John Psathas


Number of percussion players: 4 + 1 soli

Total number of players: 15

Instrumentation: solo perc (mba, vib) + 1(pic).0.1.1 / / 4perc.dms / pf / str (

Approximate time: 19’ 15”


The title roughly translatable as ‘conjunction’, Psyzygysm is a exhilarating chamber concerto which brings together an eclectic ensemble in support of the mallet percussion soloist. Psathas’ preoccupation with jazz and traditional music is synthesised in this work into an explosive, headlong rush.The piano, double bass and drum kit work together like the rhythm section of a jazz combo, the winds and string quartet feature wailing, Middle-Eastern-inspired melodies and the percussion quartet create a musical and visual focus to the piece that locks all the elements together.

From a review of the work’s premiere in the Evening Post, 13 March 2002: “The star of the evening was Pedro Carneiro, astonishing Portuguese marimbist… in John Psathas’s Psyzygysm, a tour de force from any point of view. It is genuine music, climaxes built from music rather than mere crescendos. The imaginative inclusion of Carolyn Mills’ harp was just one evidence that real musical impulses, materials and structure were in use; both its excitement and its quiet were in place. Psathas’s work alone would have done me: the audience applauded long and hard.”


Annotated by Nicholas White