Peter Xifaras - 'Children of Conflict'
Review by Patrick Joseph
Children of Conflict is an extremely moving and powerful artistic experience. Xifaras has created a truly unique, immersive multi-modal piece of art with an important message. Tragic tales of people swept up in international conflict are given voice though conscientious, empathetic representation. The music is intricately composed in a way that opens your heart to the sounds while also offering no respite from the serious and emotionally taxing subject matter. Xifaras has found a way to create something not only beautiful and poignant, but also empowering to people in vulnerable situations. Hats off to this brilliant work.
By releasing this opus in conjunction with a video series, Xifaras reinforces the meaning of the music. The unbelievably powerful melodies contained in this work are fragile and sensitive. The work contains enormous strength couched in artistic subtlety. The dynamic range and compositional dexterity demonstrated here is breathtaking. The Czech National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marek Štilec, executes this piece with stunning precision. The piece contains six movements, each with their own distinct effect.
This haunting movement is a powerful way to get listeners attention and set the tone for what's to come. A drastic melody line hinting at middle-eastern tonalities is developed, melting into staccato string patterns which support a new delicate melodic theme played by violins. Thunderous and rhythmic lower register contributions then sit underneath high-pitched pedal tones creating a huge tension and provoking a deep need to hear the rest of the story. This Prologue is massively successful at grabbing attention and leaving questions unanswered, compelling listeners to listen onward. This movement also features some spoken word, which delivers stark messages in an unsettlingly emotionless tone.
The video shows heartbreaking images of children in war-torn landscapes. The video is processed to show some visual distortion, creating an increased gravity to the images. We also see the Czech symphony orchestra performing this piece with impeccable precision and artistic mastery.
“Fear, the only sound, Destruction the only sight…It was clear, no one would be spared.”
This movement is dense and melancholic. Melodic themes are developed in different registers, creating the feeling of one’s mind racing for answers. Cello plays a strong role in the countermelodies as well as a leading melodic instrument. The violin themes are haunting and delicate. Bass is occasionally plucked underneath sustained melodic tones, creating a feeling of conflict. Xifaras utilizes the range of the orchestra brilliantly here, and his juxtaposition of space and density is very effective. The video shows pictures of forlorn fathers and inspires an empathy and a benevolence toward humanity in viewers.
In this movement, deep textures create an uneasy, disparate feeling. In a touching homage, the video shows clips of the orchestra, masters of their craft, playing for these children whose life has been forever changed by tragedy. The initially melancholic theme develops into one of hope, with elements of resilience and fortitude. The even rhythms and the crisp, clean melodies over harmonic shifts create a feeling of mournful resolve. This movement ends with the most stunning harmony, as if it is provoking a rhetorical question in the minds of listeners.
This movement features complex harmonies that create a feeling of the unknown, unresolved, and unexplored. A lonely cello theme is developed into a wonderfully rich and complicated sound. The pensively explosive melodic theme is subtle, bubbling with intensity just under the surface. The video displays pictures of children mourning, as well as artistic images of humanity being washed away, and crises being imposed on the human mind.
In this movement, rumbling strings and a full-voiced vocal cry give voice to a catharsis of pain and tension. The theme covers lots of emotional ground here, from pain and desperation to heartbreaking acceptance and a scathing communication of sacrifice.
Tragedy and deep rooted trauma are sensitively explored by this gorgeous composition
This movement also offers a virtuosic and highly emotive vocal performance, intermittently featured and blending in with the overall sonic picture of the orchestra.
In the final movement, we return to the intriguing themes from the prologue, this time with so much more context and investment in the message. This movement opens with a gripping melodic theme which evolves into a creeping violin melody over staccato string support. This movement again hints at middle eastern tonalities and builds toward a massively impactful melodic punch to punctuate the piece. Listeners will be floored by the conclusion.
"For the present, is where the opportunities of the future unwind"
After experiencing the entire work, one is inspired to help the people represented. The music is tragically beautiful, and the visuals are starkly honest. This work is relentless and uncompromising. Quality is on full display from every angle. The Czech National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marek Štilec delivers an artistically bold performance of this master work by Peter Xifaras. Bravo!
Composer & Producer: Peter Xifaras
Orchestra: Czech National Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Marek Štilec
Recorded at: CNSO Studio, Prague
Record label: MusicWithNoExpiration.com®
About Peter Xifaras
In his roles as a solo-artist, composer, guitarist, orchestrator, and producer, Peter has garnered praise for successfully crossing over musical boundaries. He is just as comfortable writing a piece for symphonic orchestra as he is laying down a wailing blues solo on guitar. Peter's music has been heard on hundreds of radio stations and has been on SiriusXM rotation for over a decade. As a multi-award winning artist, Peter's music has also topped Billboard's Classical and Crossover charts.
The diverse nature of Peter's genre-bending compositions has attracted a wide range of talented guest artists who frequently appear on his releases as well as his symphoneX Orchestra® project. Peter recently recorded with the great legendary jazz-trumpeter Shunzo Ohno for an upcoming fusion release, composed a 6-movement classical work for social justice recorded by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and is currently working on a concerto for classical guitar - all while getting ready to score the next feature-film produced by JawDoc productions.
For more information about Peter, visit his website