Ioannis Papaspyrou - Composer, arranger, performer, educator

Musical Philosophy: For me, composing means various things; fulfilling a childhood dream, getting close to my childhood years, opening a window dyed in blue and enjoying the great view of the Aegean Archipelago in Greece, having a break from my problems, expressing myself in loneliness. Through composition, and during the last five years of living in the U.S., I have explored Greek and the broader eastern modality, its art of ornamentation, and a different kind of harmony, less rich and dense from the western perspective. My harmonic material derives from natural properties and structures of these modes. The traditional Greek rhythmic patterns are mixed in a less steady and complicated manner. My harmony and rhythm also blend with my jazz influence and the art of jazz comping. My main philosophy is instead for the Greek musical tradition to serve the western, the Greek to dominate, supported and enriched by my western music education. With my music, I steadily intend to state my musical background and experiences which have mainly to do with folk and traditional music of the common people (thanks to my father who guided me to this path).

Musical Upbringing: When I initially began studying my first musical instrument, a Greek popular instrument, the “bouzouki”, I was unconsciously lost in the paths of improvisation and passion for musical performance. Soon, the improvisation practice, along with the development of my technique on my instrument, led me to my first songs, instrumental and with lyrics. Later, the continuous studying of music of a variety of genres (classical, contemporary classical, jazz, Greek traditional and Byzantine Music (Eastern Orthodox Chant) began existing as blend of a musical material which all finally came up through my music.

Non-musical Interests: Since my first teenage years, when music had become an untouched part of me, I felt the urge to travel and become acquainted with several styles of World music. After I moved to the U.S. and took Introduction in Anthropology as an undergraduate student at GSU, I, again, unconsciously, initiated an every day study of people and different cultures. Therefore, I realized that the desire to become an Ethnomusicologist was really strong. Ethnomusicology could satisfy my desire of exploration of World music styles bound together with the overall culture of humans.


"Mysterioso Agitato" (2009), for fl., cl. in A, vla & pno.
Ioannis Papaspyrou Mysterioso Agitato for flute, A clarinet, viola and piano “Mysterioso agitato is a dream full of tango and desperation. As there is no way to reach his love one, the hero grasps the opportunity to enter to this dream, created by his heartsickness to reach his love one who has been vanish for no reason and without explanation. The piece initially describes the blurry and mysterious atmosphere of the dream which starts with him stepping on the dance floor, seeking to satisfy his passion through tango. He approaches her, or maybe, her fake image, grabs her and they proceed to the tango which reveals increasingly its passion measure by measure in the music and reaches its zenith with the high sustained note by the viola. However, she or her image disappears from his arms and he starts looking for her like hypnotized through a repeated passacaglia theme in the left hand in the piano, while the right hand holds a dissonant pedal. Then, the theme goes to the right hand in the piano. In the meanwhile, the new triple meter of waltz – tango increases little by little the tension in an environment in which passion and desperation, expressed by the viola 8vas, the sudden sforzandi in other instruments along with the overall mystery in music, coexist. The appearance of the four 16th note pattern in the instruments starts fueling the agony of the hero who starts running allover the dance floor through a fast milonga by himself this time. Later, the passacaglia theme is hidden in the 16th notes of the left hand in the piano, and the viola keeps expressing his desperation with the long, intensively vibrating notes, usually in 8vas, while the whole ensemble seems to be moving faster and faster heading to the point where he eventually stops wandering around, sits on the floor without holding her in his arms, and with the initial hope and the thunderous passion lost for ever.“
"Blue Lullaby for Nefeli" (2003), for a. sax. & pno.
"Joy over Darkness" (2013), for wind band (Finale realization)