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Augusta Read Thomas

Publisher: G. Schirmer

EOS (Goddess of the Dawn) a Ballet for Orchestra (2014)
G Schirmer Inc
Year Composed
16 Minutes
Programme Note
Augusta Read Thomas EOS (Goddess of the Dawn) a Ballet for Orchestra (2014)
EOS Goddess of the Dawn is dedicated with admiration and gratitude to Thierry Fischer and each member of the Utah Symphony. Their world premiere performances, captured here on this CD, illustrate their exceptional, colorful, accurate, nuanced and passionate playing for which I express immense appreciation.

EOS is in honor of Pierre Boulez, who premiered three of my works: WORDS OF THE SEA for orchestra, CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA “Orbital Beacons” and IN MY SKY AT TWILIGHT for soprano and chamber orchestra. Mr. Boulez recorded, toured, and supported my music over many years and I was so happy to be able to send him the score, program book, and premiere performance recording of EOS in mid 2015.

Greek mythology and dance are two of my lifelong passions.

My other works on Greek themes include SELENE for percussion quartet and string quartet; HELIOS CHOROS for large orchestra; TERPSICHORE’S DREAM for chamber orchestra; and EUTERPE’S CAPRICEfor solo flute.

My catalogue includes 45 additional works for orchestra or orchestral concerti and I conceived most of my orchestral and chamber works as suitable for dance. I stand at the drafting table as I compose and fully embody the sounds by dancing (though, trust me, you do NOT want to see me dance!), scatting the music, singing the music, playing it at the piano, and feeling the flow, impulse, inner life of the line, whether that be slow and timeless or jazzy and driving or capricious and fleet footed. When an orchestra member asks me a question, I usually sing the answer.
Although my music is careful and precise in its notation and structure, I like my music to have the feeling that it is an organic creation being self-propelled on the spot as if we listeners are overhearing an improvisation. I try to imbue the music with my own physical and mental sense of caprice, an improvisatory spirit, and a joy in a diversity of characters and colors.

EOS exhibits a kaleidoscopic variety of rhythmic syntaxes, radiant colors, and resonant harmonic fields. I work hard to present a very clean and thoughtful technical control of materials and orchestration. I hope my efforts result in unique compositions -- always luminous and never muddy. I am honored to be part of this spectacular project with the Utah Symphony and thrilled to share EOS with you.

— Augusta Read Thomas


-Eos opening the gates of heaven for the sun to rise.
-Early morning birds in nature's muse.

-Eos' team of horses pull her chariot across the sky (which are named in the Odyssey as Daybright and Firebright.)

-Eos welcomes Aura (Titaness of the breeze and the fresh, cool air of early morning.)

-Eos summonses Hypnos (God of Sleep) and Mnemosyne (Titaness of memory and remembrance, and mother of the Nine Muses) to release all those who are asleep and dreaming so that they may wake.

-Eos embraces Iris (goddess of the rainbow), and bids the Hyades to bring spring rain. (The Hyades were Nymphs associated with the constellation Hyades, and daughters of the Titan Atlas; popularly known as "the rainy ones," they are a sisterhood of nymphs that bring rain, and their rising marked the start of the rainy months of spring.)

-Eos applauds her brother Helios (personification of the sun) as he drives his chariot of horses across the sky.

-Eos greets Aether (the god of the upper atmosphere and light.)
-Eos thanks her mother Theia (Titaness of sight and the shining light of the clear blue sky) and her father Hyperion (Titan of light) who are also the parents Eos' siblings: Helios (sun) and Selene (moon.)

  • Ensemble
    Utah Symphony
    Thierry Fischer
    Reference Recordings:
Thomas’s music is, above all, colorful. Her bright dazzling colors transform over time, so that we are drawn into their metamorphosis. Harmonic fields are at play that seem vaguely tonal and frequently emphasize unisons and perfect intervals, the major third, and the major seventh. In an impressionistic way, fast and scintillating solo winds are often accompanied by slow moving strings. The tessitura favors the higher ranges, keeping most of the music light and fleet. The orchestration features high percussion instruments—glockenspiel, crotales, vibraphones, and the like—adding to the high glistening and polished quality of sound. The larger structure is simple, clear, and elegant. Individual movements vary widely in duration, which creates a delightful sense of playfulness with music’s primordial medium—time.
Dan Asia, Huffington Post,17/08/2017
We are soon taken on a playful journey that is a true concerto for orchestra. Utah Symphony really wows in Augusta’s music: the way challenging runs pass through the entire orchestra with perfect precision and ensemble is truly something for the ears to behold…
Geoffrey Larson, Second Inversion,25/04/2016
Thomas understands the instruments of the orchestra like few of today’s composers do. EOS is an excellent example of her orchestration talents; it’s brilliantly written and each instrument and section is seamlessly integrated into the textural and musical fabric. The score is vibrant, dynamic and rhythmically thrilling. It’s a well conceived and executed work that probes and explores the thematic material fully. It has depth, substance and is filled with real emotion.
Edward Reichel, Salt Lake City Magazine,20/04/2016
This is a score that’s packed with color and energy and scored with breathtaking precision: no gesture or sonority is wasted, from the delicate, opening evocation of the dawn through to the closing blaze of sunlight. Its narrative is neatly distilled and that, in turn, has brought out writing from Thomas of great focus and personality.
Jonathan Blumhofer, ArtsFuse,20/04/2016
The opening of the ballet is luminous, the sounds of darting rain wonderfully effective, and the kinetic effects most gratifying. Eos...will surely find a home in the hearts of listeners who prefer to dream without being awakened with a bang.
Jason Victor Serinus, Stereophile Magazine,09/04/2016
The programme opens with 'Eos (Goddess of the Dawn)' by Augusta Read Thomas (b.1964) whose command of a wide ranging orchestral palette is breathtaking. The music is full of ravishing orchestral sonorities, the subtle use of glittering percussion and writing for winds being immediately striking, whilst the almost Mahlerian string passages in the fourth section 'Dreams and Memories' are equally memorable. Textures have a crystalline clarity throughout and the ever changing variety of rhythmic patterns holds the listener's attention in a composition of great eloquence and lucidity.
Graham Williams, HR Audio,01/04/2016
Debussy’s Jeux may spring to mind, but the sparse transparency of Thomas’ palette in EOS edges closer to a metallic Copland. Resonant percussion enhances a mostly heterophonic score evoking various facets of Greek mythology. Thomas fulfills her goal to create a score that is “always luminous,” and the clarity of her vision presents the orchestra in full exposure, with nowhere to hide.
Marcus Karl Maroney,,01/04/2016
The bright, bouncily rhythmic sounds of "EOS" made for aural glitter. "EOS" is a colorfully orchestrated diversion for large forces that....tickle, cheer and please in skeins.
Alan G. Artner, Chicago Tribune,01/03/2016
When a symphony orchestra performs a concert that includes a Beethoven concerto, a Prokofiev symphony, and a world premiere composition by a living American composer, the chances of the premiere being able to withstand any comparisons are remote. But remote does not imply impossible. And EOS: Goddess of the Dawn (A Ballet for Orchestra) complemented the other two works exceedingly well — it is engaging from the first chords to the last. Augusta Read Thomas, the living composer, has succeeded at an elemental level. And yes, the orchestra and conductor Thierry Fischer performed magnificently; EOS, at just over a quarter of an hour, creates vast vistas of orchestral colors, harmonies, and textures, precisely observed. Melodies are heard only in fragments, but who needs them when a composition is so well-constructed and spirited in its own domain.
Gregory Walz,,25/02/2015
Augusta Read Thomas has secured for herself a permanent place in the pantheon of American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. She is without question one of the best and most important composers that this country has today. Her music has substance and depth and a sense of purpose. She has a lot to say and she knows how to say it — and say it in a way that is intelligent yet appealing and sophisticated yet extremely accessible. She is known for her carefully crafted scores and colorful orchestrations. Thomas is adept at bringing out the very best in each instrument and each section. She also knows how to combine instruments to create stunning sounds; she plays with overtones and she shapes notes and phrases by finely tuned dynamics and accents. All of this is present in EOS: Goddess of the Dawn, a Utah Symphony commission which the orchestra and Thierry Fischer premiered this weekend (Thursday in Ogden, yesterday in Abravanel Hall), and which is also being recorded for future release.
Edward Reichel,,21/02/2015
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