Greek Chamber Music Project - Music & Myth: Tales of Ancient Robots

Presented by Old First Concerts

The Greek Chamber Music Project presents an epic program of music inspired by Greek myth and culture. The cornerstone of the concert is Talos Dreams, a GCMP commission that explores the concept of made versus born. Natural and processed sounds come crashing together to conjure an image of Talos, the tale of the first robot. This multimedia work highlights the ghostplate, a novel metallic instrument that the composer Costas Dafnis built and designed along with Bay Area improviser Tom Nunn. Its sonic palette — atmospheric, echoing, wispy, and metallic — sounds remarkably electronic for an acoustic instrument. The ghostplate creates a soundscape that is at once familiar and extraordinary.

Talos Dreams takes its cues from Gods and Robots, a book by Stanford scholar Adrienne Mayor, revealing that the earliest concepts of automatons, robots and artificial intelligence can be traced back to ancient Greece — first in mythology, and later in self-moving devices and robots. The line between human and not human, born vs. built, is an AI concept that’s not only recent, but in fact thousands of years old.

The concert will also include excerpts from Medea: Rebirth and Destruction, a collective work created by composition students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. At times sympathetic, lyrical, dark, and uplifting, Medea captures the narrative of the mythical sorceress who held the power to destroy and create.

The program also features a rare performance of Greek Dances by Thanos Ermilios, which cleverly weaves original folk melodies into the rich language of chamber music.

“So ethereal! I loved the “controlled chaos” unpredictability of the ghostplate—evoking the unexpected behavior of the “made-not born” automaton Talos. This science-fiction soundscape really embodies the mechanical artificial being Talos, that cyborgian quality of part machine-part human tension is captured by each of the musicians. [What a] terrific concert—beyond all expectations!” —Adrienne Mayor, author of Gods and Robots

“The sonorities were prodigiously diverse, reflecting as broad an array of dispositions as one might encounter in an eighteenth-century string quartet.” —Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio, December 2021

The Greek Chamber Music Project (GCMP) celebrates the Greek world through captivating programming in intimate concert settings. Recent programs have included the East Coast tour Remembering the Jews of Greece, deeply personal songs about The Iliad in Conversations with Homer, and the commissioning of Talos Dreams inspired by the myth of the first robot.

GCMP is a champion of Greek composers, shedding light on the rich musical repertoire coming out of Greece and the Greek diaspora. GCMP’s concerts of all-Greek works are so unique, that similar programs are rarely performed even within Greece. Past performance venues include the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Library of Congress, as well as cultural centers and universities across the U.S. and Canada.

Learn more:

City: San Francisco
Price Range:
$25 in-person / by-donation for livestream


Ellie Falaris Ganelin flute
Kyle Bruckmann oboe
Ariel Wang violin
Lewis Patzner cello
Costas Dafnis ghostplate

Old First Presbyterian Church

Old First Presbyterian Church

1751 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
United States