John Psathas (b. 3 July 1966, Wellington, N.Z.) is a New Zealander composer and educator.
Psathas' parent emigrated to New Zealand from Greece in 1960. Mr. Psathas studied composition and piano performance at Victoria University of Wellington. He studied further with composer Jacqueline Fontyn in Belgium before returning to New Zealand where he has since lectured in music at Victoria University and continued to fulfil a busy schedule of commissions.
Early career collaborations included working with such luminaries as Sir Mark Elder, Kristjan Jarvi, the Takacs Quartet, Lara St. John, the Netherlands Blazers Ensemble, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Edo de Wart, Joanna MacGregor, Pedro Carneiro, the Halle Orchestra, The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of Emilia Romagna "Arturo Toscanini", the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and many more. Then followed a period of intense creative exploration in the worlds of electronica and jazz, and a series of mega-projects (such as scoring much of the opening ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games). All of which has led to an explosion of first-hand collaborations with artists from dozens of musical traditions spanning Asia, Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Australasia.
John is now developing projects that integrate the many strands of this creative journey. Much of his recent work has social and historical commentary at its core. The film White Lies (original film score) depicts a head-on clash of beliefs and the nature of identity in early NZ European settler society. Between Zero and One is inspired by ancient and modern rhythms, and brings musicians from around the world into the concert space via interactive projection, transforming and challenging the traditional experience of fixed-location, temporally contained performance. 100 Years (in collaboration with Serj Tankian) is an unflinching exploration and remembrance of the Armenian genocide begun in 1915. Most recently, the epic and experimental No Man’s Land project overtly challenges the accepted handling of WWI commemoration.
Psathas has received a number of awards and honours, including twice winning the SOUNZ Contemporary Award (2002 and 2004) for individual works and three Classical CD of the Year awards (2000, 2004, and 2007). In 2003 he was made a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate and in 2005 was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM).
Works for Winds
- Abhisheka (2004)
- Athens 2004
- Djinn for Percussion Ensemble (2016)
- Kyoto (2011)
- Manurewa Fanfare (1998)
- Orbital (tr. Lebrias) (2021/2023)
- Planet Damnation (2007/2015)
- John Psathas website Accessed 22 December 2019