BOWLING GREEN, O.—As Dr. Elainie Lillios goes about preparing for the end of the semester at Bowling Green State University, getting ready for a premiere of her work in South Carolina in June and for her commission to compose in Paris this fall, she is also spending some time each day learning Greek.
Lillios, an associate professor of composition specializing in electroacoustic music, has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach a seminar and conduct research at the Municipal Conservatory at Thermi in Thessaloniki, Greece, next fall.
“I’m a composer, but I’ll be exploring a new area of instruction,” she said. “I’ll be teaching performers how to perform with technology.”
A prolific composer, Lillios is well known in the electroacoustic world. In 2009 she won first prize in the “music with instruments” section at the 36th annual Bourges International Competition in France for her composition “Veiled Resonance,” written for soprano saxophone and live electronics. Last year she became only the second American composer in the history of the prestigious Groupe de Recherches Musicales musical research group in Paris to be awarded a commission. Lillios’s new work will be premiered in October as a featured piece on the group’s “Multiphonies” concert series. She will perform it at La maison de Radio France in the Salle Olivier Messiaen, on the organization’s famous “Acousmonium,” an orchestra of 80-plus loudspeakers arranged throughout the concert space.
In her invitation to Lillios to come to Thermi, Artistic Director Erato Alakiozidou said the conservatory was interested in “your expertise on integration of new technology in composition, performance and repertoire selection. Quite recently, our conservatory started a contemporary music and music technology department and there are already 20 students interested in attending such a seminar.”
“The conservatory students who attend the seminar play traditional instruments, but want to learn to integrate technology into performance,” said Lillios. “We’ll investigate performers who specialize in technology, and I’ll show them how to use microphones, how to prepare pieces employing technology, and how to work with sound systems. The seminar’s capstone event will be a concert where students will perform technology-mediated pieces they select and rehearse in collaboration with their studio instructor.”
Integrating technology calls for a specific type of composition, and one of Lillios’ goals is “to leave the conservatory with the beginnings of a technology-mediated score repository so that they have the resources to continue after I’m gone.
“Many contemporary composers create music combining live and acoustic instruments with technology,” she said. “It could be saxophone with fixed media (what we used to call tape), or flute with computer – which listens to the music and reacts to it.”
To gather the necessary materials, she will put out a call for scores, and all submissions will go to Greece for student and faculty use.
In many ways, the trip to Greece is a reconnection for Lillios, whose father was Greek and who still has family in the Thessaloniki area. She taught in a weeklong electroacoustic composition workshop in Corfu during a 2007 sabbatical.
The connection with the Thermi conservatory, though, is with a BGSU alumnus from Greece, Theofilios Sotiriades, who was a graduate student in Distinguished Artist Professor John Sampen’s saxophone program. Sotiriades now teaches at the conservatory.
“When he (Sotiriades) was at Bowling Green, he took the music technology class and loved it. He’s been championing me to come to Greece ever since,” Lillios said, adding that while there is a lot of electronic music in the country as a whole, “I’m bringing something new to the conservatory, and I hope to get the students and the faculty excited about it.”
In addition to teaching and composing, “I plan to travel and lecture in various parts of the country,” Lillios said. “With the Fulbright, I will be a diplomat to build bridges in my field between creative people in Greece and creative people here.”
She plans to renew her connections with the Corfu faculty and arrange to lecture there as well. “I want to recruit for our program and build connections. I want to collaborate with Theofilios (Sotiriades) and compose a piece for the resident faculty ensemble.
“I’m looking forward to working with students and faculty at the Municipal Conservatory, connecting with family and immersing myself in Greek culture,” she said.