MICHAEL LEVY - Composer & Performer of the Lyre of Antiquity

"Michael Levy is a genius and his music, be careful, is a magic spell" 

Veronica Naudascher - CD Baby Review




Michael Levy is a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, whose musical mission is to create an entirely new musical genre, which could best be described as a 'New Ancestral Music' - dedicated to reintroducing the recreated lyres, ancient musical modes and intonations, back into the modern musical world.

Michael's musical vision was influenced in part, from the similar 'New Ancestral Music' of both the composers Luis Paniagua of Spain and Petros Tabouris of Greece, in addition to the work in just intonation and ancient Greek microtonal scales, by the late American microtonal composer, Harry Partch.

Since 2006, Michael has focused his unique skills, at both intensively researching & recreating the ancient playing-techniques of the lyres of antiquity. Basing these techniques from both illustrations of ancient lyre players and the various playing-techniques still practiced today in Africa, he has independently produced 30 releases since 2008. The story of his music recently featured in international news releases in The Hindu and The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) and his music has been featured as ancient-themed soundscapes to enhance museum exhibitions all over the world.   


Michael has recently collaborated with the Grammy award winning Canadian composer, Rufus Wainwright - Rufus has arranged one of Michael's ancient lyre-themed compositions "Hymn to Zeus", in two scenes of his second opera, "Hadrian"; which premiered in Toronto on 13th October 2018!



Michael's collaboration with Rufus Wainwright & the main inspiration behind his ancient-themed lyre music, has been featured in a story in the "The Globe and Mail" - one of the biggest daily newspapers in Canada.

Michael has also collaborated with the Egyptian film score composer, Remon Sakr, and in 2017, created lyre themes, "The Holy Nile (Hymn to Hapi)" & "Salvation's Hymn for Amun (In the North Temple of Amun)" which Sakr orchestrated and featured in his ancient Egyptian-themed album, "The Epic of Thebes: Story of Passion and War" 



Michael's arrangement for solo lyre of the oldest notated melody so far discovered in history; the 3,400 Bronze Age Hurrian Hymn Text H6 from ancient Ugarit, has been featured in a story in the Daily Mail Online, has been used in support of international museum exhibitions at both the Royal Ontario Museum & the Oriental Institute of Chicago, appeared in stories online and in print; as featured in 'Newser', 'Nature World News', 'GOOD Magazine', 'The New Historian' magazine, 'A Journal of Musical Things', 'The Vintage News', 'ZME Science' magazine , Fox News,  Classic FM, India TV News, 'National Geographic Magazine', had airplay on BBC Radio 4received a mention in a blog in the cult mainstream rock and pop NME Magazine...and even has been featured as a prelude to accompany the opening narration on the 2015 ancient alien-themed album, "The Rise of Marduk" by the Nevada Death Metal Band "Blasphemous Creation"!


Michael's Roman-themed lyre music was selected for use in the ancient Roman-themed 2018 Mars M&M's TV advert campaign across the entire continent of the USA and Canada!



Michael has also received airplay on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, with his music featured on television productions on ITV, BBC Four and internationally, on the Greek TV channel EPT3. 


His bespoke, ancient-themed compositions have featured in theatre productions,  Riccardo Buscarini's London ballet production, "No Lander", several independently produced feature films and many ancient-themed podcasts. His lyre music has been used in audio books, as well as educational CD's/DVD's and educational publicationsMichael's 'micro-niche' ancient-themed lyre music has also recently found a new 21st century niche; in ancient-themed, cult PC games!




Michael has gained academic recognition for his work and his lyre playing was featured in an article entitled "The Universal Lyre: Three Perspectives" by Dr Diana Rowan, published in "The American Harp Journal" in the Summer of 2013.

As an internationally acclaimed early music artist, Michael has performed live, at the Stockholm Early Music Festival; the biggest early music festival in the Nordic countries and was recently invited to perform his lyres at the University of Oxford for an event featured as part of the European Festival of Latin and Greek.

 





For a taste of Michael's live performances, below is a HD video featuring one of Michael's evocations of the lost music of ancient Rome - a unique bonus outtake from the filming of Waldemar Januszczak's 4-part BBC Four television documentary series from Autumn 2012, "The Dark Ages An Age of Light"

 

 

 

This unique BBC Four HD video of Michael's live lyre performance can be freely downloaded from the Dropbox download link here

 




A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO MICHAEL'S MUSIC FOR SOLO LYRE


For the majority of Michael's earlier albums, recorded between 2008 - 2013, he played modern evocations of the ancient 10-string Biblical lyre called the “kinnor”  – once played by his very own, very ancient Levite ancestors in the Temple of Jerusalem, to accompany the singing of the Levitical Choir. 


The kinnor is documented in both the Biblical texts & the writings of the 1st century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, who actually witnessed the Levites play their lyres in the Temple of Jerusalem during the 1st century CE and what may be the only known actual depiction of the instrument, appears on the Bar Kokhba coins, minted at the time of the Simon Bar Kokhba Revolt against the Roman occupation of Judea, between 132 - 136 CE:





 


As Michael soon began to realize, the Biblical kinnor of his Levite ancestors (at least from the illustration of the elongated lyre seen on the Bar Kokhba coins), was strikingly similar to the ancient Egyptian lyre of the New Kingdom, the ancient Greek kithara & later, the Roman kithara - Michael therefore went on to explore evoking & recreating the music of ancient Egypt, the music of ancient Greece & the music of ancient Rome, with both original compositions for lyre in a selection of some of the original ancient musical modes, as well as arrangements of some of some of the actual music of ancient Greece. These recording projects can be heard in Michael's album releases between 2009 - 2013.




COLLABORATION WITH LUTHIEROS IN "THE LYRE 2.0 PROJECT"


Since 2014, Michael has also been closely collaborating with Luthieros; the specialist replica lyre makers in Thessaloníki, Greece, in their inspirational "Lyre 2.0 Project" - dedicated to reintroducing the beautiful lyres of antiquity back into the hands of every modern musician; a fascinating project now featured as a new entry in the world-renowned “Ancient History Encyclopaedia” 


Michael has featured the Luthieros replica of the ancient Greek kithara and tortoise shell lyres in most of his recordings since 2014. As part of Michael’s ongoing collaboration with Luthieros, he performed his first series of international live lyre performances in Thessaloniki in October 2015:






 



MICHAEL'S YOUTUBE CHANNEL


A broad selection of examples  of Michael's work can be found on his extensive YouTube Channel which currently has over fifteen thousand subscribers:

 

 

 


 

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