APOLLO'S LYRE - Ancient Greek-Themed Album

"Transport your imagination...

Let Michael Levy be your tour guide. Transport your imagination into the ancient past. Visit the temples of ancient Greece. The sea breeze tugs gently at your toga as the wind whistles through empty temple ruins. The sound of a replica lyre brings to life the history of a thousand years and you find yourself revisiting a past life. You are mute witness on the courts of the ancient past to what passed for everyday entertainment and inspirational sounds. Cherish this peek into a life with the ancients"

DarkDayRobin - iTunes (USA) Review   

Grammy award winning composer, Rufus Wainwright arranged an excerpt of track 3;"Hymn to Zeus", in two scenes of his second opera,"Hadrian"!

Primarily evoking the music of ancient Greece; featuring mainly original compositions for solo lyre in a selection of the original ancient Greek modes, this album also evokes the music of ancient Egypt and Israel - featuring two ancient Egyptian-themed compositions scale and two ancient Biblical-themed compositions...

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" 'The Kithara of Classical Antiquity' seems to have a different kind of vibe to Michael Levy's other records. The most immediately recognisable difference is that this is the first record which he sings on, using minimalist vocals and strummed intros which work well to highlight the melody of each track. The vocals don't take over, leaving the lyre itself always centre piece. These vocal intros give the record a feeling of being one long performance, instead of individual tracks, a feeling which becomes more apparent and mesmerising upon repeated listens and indeed when played in random order.

One of the true delights is that there are some very nice double hand picking sections throughout, and having been playing the lyre myself for a while now I can further appreciate the skill needed to play these pieces. The fact that Michael is using an expertly handcrafted Kithara makes this perhaps his most authentically "Greek" record yet, with some class whammy guitar effects spread throughout.

Stand out tracks include "The Death of Agamemnon" which evokes an appropriately mournful feeling and opener "Odysseus and the Sirens" which combined with its oceanic backing and variety of techniques is a piece one simply never tires of listening to.

In short, this would serve as the best introduction yet to one of today's most distinct musical artists."

Le Temps Revient - Review of "The Ancient Greek Kithara of Classical Antiquity"

kithara was the highly advanced, large wooden lyre favoured by only the true professional musicians of ancient Greece, which reached its pinnacle of perfection during the “Golden Age” of Classical Antiquity, circa 5th century BCE. My album "The Ancient Greek Kithara of Classical Antiquity" features the wonderfully recreated Kithara of the Golden Age of Classical Greece - hand-made in modern Greece by Luthieros Ancient & Modern Music Instruments

Since late 2014, I have been collaborating with Luthieros in their inspirational "Lyre 2.0 Project" - dedicated to reintroducing the wonderful lyres of antiquity back into the modern world, to make these beautiful instruments accessible to each and every modern musician.

This new series of recordings hopefully demonstrate why the kithara was so venerated in antiquity, as the instrument of the professional musician - perfect for both accompanying the human voice and for as an incredibly versatile solo instrument.

In particular, I attempt to demonstrate the wonderfully reconstructed 2500 year old vibrato mechanism, for which there is an almost overwhelming body of visual evidence to support this theory.

The main musical concept of the album is to imagine the sort of melodies which once may have accompanied recitations of some of the classic legends and epic poems of ancient Greece, which would have almost certainly have been accompanied by the kithara; the lyre of the true professional musicians of Classical antiquity. Indeed, almost all the great works of literature from ancient times were originally meant to be sang; the music giving weight and emotional emphasis to the text and in doing so, helping to convey its true meaning...

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"An Undying Musical Legacy!

In ancient Greek Classical Antiquity, the lyre was given a prominent pride of place. Michael Levy brings that era alive with his beautifully composed album. "The Golden Age of Pericles" is superbly performed. The fluid tones of the lyre create a certain magic in the atmosphere. The splendorous "The Garden of Epicurus" is an utterly pleasurable track with its running water sounds under the equally mellifluous sound of the lyre....loved it! The minor notes in "Rhetoric of the Sophists" bring middle-Eastern influences to mind. Another track that I found quite mesmerizing is "Death of Socrates", the single notes played with pauses in parts is wonderful to hear! I found this album simply superb in that not only has Levy brought an ancient instrument and its music back to life, but also an entire civilization through his music"

Amazon (USA) Review of "The Ancient Greek Tortoise Shell Lyre"

This album was inspired as a tribute to the great philosophers of ancient 
Greece, performed on an inspirationally authentic replica tortoise shell lyre, hand-made in modern Greece by Luthieros Ancient & Modern Music Instruments, with an actual tortoise shell for the resonator, an authentic replica 2500 year old carved bone plectrum, gut strings and actual goat horns for the arms of this magnificent musical instrument of the ancient Greek gods...

Here is a video presentation featuring clips of some of the tracks:

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"Pleasant relaxing melody. Just imagine yourself in the garden in Ancient Greece near warm sea, sea breeze is flowing...

Music to relax and to enjoy life"

Sergey Lenkov - Bandcamp Review of "The Lyre of Thamyris"

In Greek mythology, Thamyris (Greek: Θάμυρις, Thámuris), son of Philammon and the nymph Argiope, was a Thracian singer who was so proud of his skill that he boasted he could out sing the Muses. He competed against them and lost - as punishment for his presumption they blinded him, and took away his ability to make poetry and to play the lyre. This outline of the story is told in the Iliad. 

This piece attempts to evoke the particularly poignant feel of this gem of haunting ancient Greek mythology, in the intense and sorrowful ancient Greek Hypodorian Mode, in the clear focus of just intonation.

The piece features the rather appropriately mythical-looking "Lyre of Thamyris", imaginatively recreated in modern Greece, by Luthieros


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KITHARA OF THE GOLDEN AGE - Ancient Greek Themed Album

"It is music that takes you back to another age with every note"

Amy - Amazon (USA) Review of "Kithara of the Golden Age"

The enchanting sound of the kithara of the Golden Age of Classical Greece; the lyre of the professional musicians of Classical antiquity...

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"A peek into an epic past...

In this new release, Michael Levy treats us to the apotheosis to date (he should like that interesting Greek word) of his musical and ethnomusicological skill. Combining the Greek Dorian mode (in Ptolemy's intense diatonic tuning), a state-of-the-musicological-art kithara replica from Lutherios in Greece, fascinating melodic and rhythmic playing techniques (all very much in the spirit of what we know about ancient Greek music), and the sensibility of a born improviser, Michael gives us a peek into an epic past which I can't help but think even Homer would applaud."

Johanan Rakkav - iTunes (USA) Review of "The Sack of Troy: Paean for Ancient Greek Kithara"

In ancient Greek Classical literature, there was a lost ancient Greek epic by the title of "The Sack of Troy" - which was one of the Epic Cycle, which told the entire history of the Trojan War in epic verse. In creating this this new composition for replica ancient Greek kithara, it was therefore my intention to evoke the sort of ancient Greek 'paean' style melody (an ancient Greek hymn of thanksgiving, typically accompanied by kithara in the ancient Greek Dorian Mode) to which that lost epic of ancient Greece could have been recited...

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This single features a completely spontaneous improvisation for solo replica ancient Greek chelys (tortoise shell form) lyre based on a hauntingly evocative documented microtonal scale from ancient Greece, known as the "Archytas Enharmonic Genus"

The use of quarter tones in this ancient Greek scale adds an intensity to the resulting music improvised in it in an entirely different dimension to the artificial constraints of our monotonously standardized 12 note chromatic system. The feeling of intensity in this microtonal scale is further enhanced by the authentic use of the clearly focused intervals, tuned here in just intonation.

In this improvisation, I also demonstrate the rhythmic potential of the reconstructed tortoise shell form lyre by using the greater mass of my replica ancient Greek carved bone plectrum to also occasionally beat rhythm on the skin soundboard; in much the same manner that acoustic guitarists today can beat rhythm on the soundboard of their guitars whilst they play.

For me, this distinctively intense ancient Greek scale conjures up in my mind, kaleidoscopic  imagery of fearsome ancient Greek mythological monsters and heroes - enjoy the 'musical magic carpet ride'!

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THE LYRE OF HERMES - Ancient Greek-Themed Album

"According to Greek myth, it was Hermes who invented the tortoise shell lyre and that is the premise from which Michael Levy begins his latest collection of lyre pieces. The lyre of Hermes certainly has a richer quality of sound, helping to distinguish it from the more commonly heard sound of the harp. Stand out tracks include "Lampades (Nymphs of Hades)" which demonstrates Michael's growing virtuosity along with other techniques he is developing with this new lyre. So if you want to deepen the mood whilst reading the classics, this is the perfect thing to listen to."
Le Temps Revient - Amazon (UK) Review of "The Lyre of Hermes"

This album is the sequel to my album, "The Lyre of Apollo - The Chelys Lyre of Ancient Greece". Both of these albums are part of an exciting collaboration between myself and Lutherios Ancient & Modern Music Instruments for their inspirational "Lyre 2.0 Project" - dedicated to reintroducing the beautiful lyre of antiquity back into our much aesthetically poorer, bland modern world. Their vision is one I share and which continues to inspire me - maybe, someday soon, the beautiful lyre of antiquity will once again resonate the 21st century and beyond, with its haunting, ancient beauty...

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"The 'Firstfruits' of The Lyre 2.0 Project...

In ancient Greece, as in ancient Israel, the very "first" or "firstfruits" of the produce had to be offered to God (or to one or more of "the gods", if you were Greek) so that the rest of the produce could be accepted for human use. I can't help but be reminded of that historical fact when I listen to Michael Levy's first and splendid EP in collaboration with The Lyre 2.0 Project by Lutherios in Greece. The lyre he plays is made by Lutherios and it is unlike anything he has used on recording before: more rustic, and yet more "authentic" to its time. Like the symbolic "firstfruits" of ancient religion, this recording presages what is to come after in Michael's career.

Listening to Michael play, I'm reminded of what one might've heard in one of the more genteel Greco-Roman drinking parties, where Apollo's ascribed nobility, not Dionysius' ascribed sensuality, ruled the hour. Not for nothing was Apollo said to be the patron of the lyre, for the lyre was "the" noble instrument of antiquity - whatever "noble" meant to whatever person or people used it.

Michael's dedication and skill, wedded with Lutherios' equal dedication and skill, can only be described as mythic. Some of my readers should know accordingly, I can appreciate such wedding as a pure musician without agreeing with the ancient metaphysics behind it - yet hearing the results can be instructive, no matter who you are, no matter what metaphysics you hold dear"

Johanan Rakkav - iTunes (USA) Review of "The Lyre of Apollo: The Chelys Lyre of Ancient Greece"

This album is the culmination of an exciting collaboration between myself and Lutherios Ancient & Modern Music Instruments for their inspirational "Lyre 2.0 Project" - dedicated to reintroducing the beautiful lyre of antiquity back into our much aesthetically poorer, bland modern world. Their vision is one I share and which continues to inspire me - maybe, some day soon, the beautiful lyre of antiquity will once again resonate the 21st century and beyond, with its haunting, ancient beauty.

The 'chelys' was the iconic ancient Greek lyre which had a resonator either made of an actual tortoise shell, or in wood in the form of the shell...


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"Just Tuning...

We in the West have gotten so used to hearing music out of tune (since the era of Bach's Well-Tempered Klavier, that the spiritual purity of music and its calming effect on our psyches and society has been tragically absent. Michael Levy, amongst other "Pythagorists," is exposing our jaded ears to the music of the ancients and to their wisdom, inherently an integral part of the tunings and modes. This music will simultaneously calm and inspire the listener. Nirvana anyone?"

Dr Juan V. De Sirrera - Amazon (USA) Review

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THE ANCIENT GREEK LYRE - Ancient Greek-Themed Album

 "Extremely Talented Artist!

I was fortunate enough to come across Mr. Levy's music as I was conducting research o the music of Ancient Greece. I work for the Teaaching Company, a well-known U.S. production house that specializes in educational video and audio courses. Mr. Levy's rendition of "The First Delphic Hymn to Apollo" expodentially enhanced the academic content and production value of our course "The Great Tours:Greece and Turkey", giving our audience a realistic sense of the music and culture of the ancient world.

Mr Levy's music deserves to be heard and appreciated by all who have a sincere interest in understanding the evolution of music and the sounds of ancient times. Or anyone who simply appreciates good music!"

S.B TGC - iTunes (USA) Review

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THE ANCIENT GREEK MODES - Ancient Greek-Themed Album

"Instructive and at the same time relaxing...

This is how I can best describe Levy's take on introducing the listener to some of the Ancient Greek Modes. Dorian, Hypolydian, Lydian, Hypophrygian, and Phrygian they are called, and I remember my music classes in college and I wished the instructor had had a practical musical talent comparable to that of Levy. Just like in his other works he invites us to a colourful musical landscape, made accessible by his puristic style: just the strings of his lyra instrument and a gentle reverb effect. Great work"

Von Idris Raihi - iTunes (Germany) Review 


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"This music ignites one's imagination...

Imagine Orpheus convincing Charon to carry him by boat over River Styx, or Orpheus taming Cerberus with this very song. Well, it happened in the theatre, in a short audio play I directed based on the myth of “Orpheus and Eurydice”. It was an experimental theatre project recorded binaurally, dedicated to blind people and involving an all blind and partially sighted cast of actor-children in Romania. Michael Levy's music inspired me while adapting the story into a new dramaturgical form. And, of course, we used two of his songs in the actual play, namely “Orpheus’s Lyre: Lament for Solo Lyre in the Just Intonation of Antiquity” and “Apollo’s Lyre: Ode to Orpheus”. Michael Levy’s mesmerizing music is not only based on intense and rigorous research, but truly ignites one’s imagination. In this sense, his music is theatrical, as it offers you a glimpse of a different world without fully revealing it – it is up to the listeners’ imagination to complete the trance-inducing musical notes. Full revelation would be blunt, while suggestion is mysterious and seductive. So close your eyes and plunge into Michael Levy's music!"

Marina Diana Hanganu, theatre director and experimental artist -
Amazon (UK) Review of "Orpheus's Lyre: Lament for Solo Lyre in the Just Intonation of Antiquity"



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