Skip to main content /SPACE /SPACE


Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:

CNN Mobile

CNN Websites



CNN International



Greek composer Vangelis says music shaped space

Vangelis' symphony Mythodea was chosen by NASA to accompany the Mars Odyssey mission
Vangelis' symphony Mythodea was chosen by NASA to accompany the Mars Odyssey mission  

ATHENS, Greece (Reuters) -- Whether it's exploring space, conquering an athlete's inner limits or discovering a new continent, Greek Oscar-winning composer Vangelis has made the music to match.

The top-selling artist, who has an asteroid between Jupiter and Mars named after him, has merged his love of music, space and mythology in an ode to the 2001 NASA mission to Mars.

"Music dominates the universe. It is the prime force, it has given shape to space," he told Reuters in an interview.

Vangelis, who won an Academy Award for his theme to "Chariots of Fire," performed his new choral symphony Mythodea amid the ruins of the temple of Zeus in central Athens last week to an audience of thousands.

Space exploration  

Chosen by NASA to accompany its Mars Odyssey mission, launched in March to study the red planet, Mythodea was inspired by Vangelis's childhood fascination with mythology and science.

Last week's concert was the first public event to be performed at the ruined temple, which dates from the 6th century BC.

"Although it was a difficult project, it felt like magic," he said. "All these spaces called ancient, which I call magic, were chosen by our ancestors very carefully. It is a very important setting with very significant energy."

The London Metropolitan Orchestra, a 120-strong chorus and the voices of opera divas Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle filled the vast venue, drowning out the Athens traffic.

Vangelis, who has worked and lived abroad since the 1960s, said performing his work in Greece was "appropriate."

"They work more naturally here. They are a product of this country, the same way I am a product of this country," he said.

Born Vangelis Papathanassiou in the small central Greek town of Volos, he started making music at the age of four and gave his first public performance at six.

He moved to Paris and then to London in the mid-1970s, exploring electronic music and was already well-known when he won the Oscar for "Chariots of Fire."

He went on to write music for several other films including Ridley Scott's 1982 futuristic thriller "Blade Runner" and the 1992 movie about the discovery of America, "1492."

His music has had huge commercial success and in 1996 he was declared the biggest-selling Greek artist in the world.

In 1997 he put together the opening ceremony for the World Athletics Championships in Athens, an event many Greek officials said helped give Greece the 2004 Games.

Vangelis has written the music for the 2004 logo and there is speculation he will be asked to direct the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens Games.

Copyright 2001 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

• 2001 Mars Odyssey
• NASA: Mars Exploration Homepage
• Mars Planet Profile
• Ames Center for Mars Exploration
• The Mars Society
• Ames Research Center: Mars Atlases
• Malin Space Science Systems

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.



Back to the top