In ancient Greek mythology, Mount Olympus is the dwelling place of the gods and goddesses. Legends of Olympus
depicts five of these deities.
Helios is the god of the sun. With his head wreathed in light, he drives a chariot drawn by four horses across the sky each day. In some tales, these horses are winged; in others, they are made of fire. At the end of each day’s journey, Helios sleeps in a golden boat that carries him on the Okeanos River, a fresh water stream that encircled the flat earth. Before dawn, the boat brings him back to his palace on Mount Olympus to collect his horses and chariot, and start the journey again.
Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, was born from the sea and brought ashore on a wave of foam. She carries herself with the regal bearing of a queen. Each year, her beauty is replenished when she dives into the sea once more.
Hermes was a merry and mischievous young god with a sharp wit. Zeus, his father, designated Hermes as the messenger between the inhabitants of Olympus and the people on earth. Hermes goes about his errands wearing golden shoes and cap, both adorned by a pair of wings.
Apollo is the god of music. His brother, Hermes, once played a trick on him by stealing all of Apollo’s cows. To appease Apollo’s anger, Hermes crafted a golden lyre. Apollo was so entranced with this stringed instrument that he traded his entire herd of cows to Hermes for it. In this movement, we hear Apollo picking up his lyre for the first time and strumming it. The brass quintet serves as the lyre, working together to represent the instrument.
Dionysus is the god of wine and revelry. In this movement, he arrives at a party bearing wine, which gets progressively wilder as the partiers drink and dance the night away.
Gaudete Brass Quintet originally commissioned Helios in 2011, and subsequently commissioned the rest of the piece.