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Atanos was commissioned by the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts in early 1995 and was written for a group of French musicians to be performed at one of four concerts entitled "Hommage to Louise Hanson Dyer". These concerts never took place, but fortunately the piece has not been forgotten and was premiered by distinguished Australian artists.
The piece is non-programmatic and music follows its own inner laws. Julian Yu has always been fascinated by Western classical music - by its organisation, discipline and formularisation. These qualities also belong to Chinese folk music. To some people they mean limitation and the end of creation but to him they are important as they give the composer greater scope for freedom and creativity by providing a firm base from which to work. While writing this piece, Yu adopted the Chinese method of ornamentation - tapping into the inner structure of his inherited musical tradition rather than superficially borrowing its sounds, scales and so on. To inherit structure and a way of thinking rather than raw material was the most important thing that he learned from his teacher-mentor, Japanese composer, Joji Yuasa. Atanos is one of Yu’s many statements in the face of the popular direct importation of Chinese musical material for the sake of novelty.