work details

The Journey to Ithaca

  • Instrumentation: SSAATTBB a cappella
  • Completed: June 2013
  • Duration: 8 minutes
  • Texts: C. P. Cavafy (1863-1933), translated Janet Galván and Charis Dimaris
  • Audio:
  • Commission:

    Commissioned by the Ithaca College School of Music, the Ithaca College Choir, and Dr. Janet Galván, director

  • Program Note:

    Commissioned by the Ithaca College School of Music and the Ithaca College Choir, The Journey to Ithaca came about through the imagination and dedication of Janet Galván, my first conducting mentor and teacher. She was so touched by the emotions found in this poetry that she felt compelled to commission a musical tapestry to enweave it. This work is a brilliantly optimistic composition. The lines and phrases are ebullient, flowing with a sense of vitality, exuberance, and hope. Central to the message of the text is this important philosophical idea: riches are found not only in the accomplishment of a goal or the achievement of a prize, but in the many and varied experiences that accompany such a quest, such a journey.

    My own four years at Ithaca College fit so seamlessly into this same narrative. I set out for Ithaca as one man, and left from it a very different one. I owe that beautiful and profound transformation—my own personal journey to Ithaca—to the incredible professors and mentors that shaped my own education. I tell many people that I would not be where I am today without the patient and caring teaching of Janet Galván. And I know that I am just one of many hundreds of students who feel this way.

    This work is dedicated humbly to Janet Galván and to the many students that she has helped to set forth from Ithaca. They will no doubt continue to enrich the lives of people across the country through their advocacy for education and pursuit of musical excellence.

  • Text:

    As you set out for Ithaca
    pray that the journey is long,
    full of adventure, full of discovery
    The Laestrygonians  and the Cyclops,
    the angry Poseidon-do not fear them
    You will never find things such as these on your way,
    If your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
    excitement stirs your spirit and your body.
    The Laestrygonians and the Cyclops
    the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
    if you do not carry them within your soul,
    unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

    Pray that the journey is long.
    That the summer mornings are many when
    with such pleasure, such joy,
    you will enter ports seen for the first time;
    stop at Phoenician markets,
    and acquire fine merchandise,
    mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
    and sensual perfumes of all kinds 
    as many sensual perfumes as you can;
    go to many Egyptian cities,
    to gather information and learn from scholars.

    Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
    Arriving there is your destiny.
    But do not hurry the journey at all.
    It is better to take many years;
    So that you are old by the time you reach the island,
    rich with all you have gained on the way,
    Not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

    Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
    Without her you would not have set out on the road.
    She has nothing more to give you.

    And if you find her poor, Ithaca will not have fooled you.
    Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
    You will have understood what Ithacas mean.

    -- Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)
    translated Janet Galván & Charis Dimaris

  • Performances:
    • November 16, 2013 (premiere)
      Ithaca College Choir
      Janet Galván, director
      Ithaca College School of Music - Ford Hall - Ithaca, NY
    • December 8, 2013
      Ithaca College Winter Choral Concert
      Ithaca College Choir
      Janet Galván, director
      Ithaca College School of Music - Ford Hall - Ithaca, NY 
    • March 12, 2014
      Ithaca College Choir Northeast Tour
      Ithaca College Choir
      Janet Galván, director
      Danbury High School - Danbury, CT
    • March 13, 2014
      Ithaca College Choir Northeast Tour
      Ithaca College Choir
      Janet Galván, director
      Melrose United Methodist Church - Melrose, MA
    • March 14, 2014
      Ithaca College Choir Northeast Tour
      Ithaca College Choir
      Janet Galván, director
      Christ Episcopal Church - Newton, NJ
    • March 15, 2014
      Ithaca College Choir Northeast Tour
      Ithaca College Choir
      Janet Galván, director
      Hunter High School Auditorium - New York, NY
    • March 22, 2014
      Ithaca College Choir Northeast Tour - Home Concert
      Ithaca College Choir
      Janet Galván, director
      Ithaca College - Ford Hall - Ithaca, NY