MICHAEL LEVY - Composer & Performer of the Lyre of Antiquity

"Michael Levy is a genius and his music, be careful, is a magic spell" 

Veronica Naudascher - CD Baby Review



Michael Levy is a multi-instrumentalist & prolific composer, who since 2006, has focused his unique skills, at both intensively researching & recreating the ancient playing-techniques of the lyres of antiquity. Basing these techniques from both illustrations of ancient lyre players and the various playing-techniques still practiced today in Africa, he has independently produced 30 releases since 2008. The story of his music recently featured in international news releases in The Hindu and The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

As an internationally acclaimed early music artist, Michael has performed at the Stockholm Early Music Festival, the biggest early music festival in the Nordic countries...






As an independent artist, always seeking new potential target audiences for his music, Michael is always willing to consider the licensing of his unique, ancient-themed music to museum exhibitions all over the world, museum audio/visual tour guides, podcasts, independent film-makers, television or radio producers interested in using any of his distinctively niche historical music, academic projects, presentations and video productions or even PC games requiring a musical evocation of the ancient world -  a PDF of Michael's Press Pack can be freely downloaded here . For full details of availability for live lyre concerts around the world and for all music licensing negotiations, please contact Michael directly!


For a taste of Michael's live performances, below is a HD video featuring one of Michael's evocations of the lost music of ancient Rome - a unique bonus outtake from the filming of Waldemar Januszczak's 4-part BBC Four television documentary series from Autumn 2012, "The Dark Ages An Age of Light"

 

 

 

This unique BBC Four HD video of Michael's live lyre performance can be freely downloaded from the Dropbox download link here

 




A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO MICHAEL'S MUSIC FOR SOLO LYRE


For the majority of Michael's earlier albums, recorded between 2008 - 2013, he played modern evocations of the ancient 10-string Biblical lyre called the “kinnor” – once played by his very own, very ancient Levite ancestors in the Temple of Jerusalem, to accompany the singing of the Levitical Choir. 


The kinnor is documented in both the Biblical texts & the writings of the 1st century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, who actually witnessed the Levites play their lyres in the Temple of Jerusalem during the 1st century CE and what may be the only known actual depiction of the instrument, appears on the Bar Kokhba coins, minted at the time of the Simon Bar Kokhba Revolt against the Roman occupation of Judea, between 132 - 136 CE:





 


As Michael soon began to realize, the Biblical kinnor of his Levite ancestors (at least from the illustration of the elongated lyre seen on the Bar Kokhba coins), was strikingly similar to the ancient Egyptian lyre of the New Kingdom, the ancient Greek kithara & later, the Roman kithara - Michael therefore went on to explore evoking & recreating the music of ancient Egypt, the music of ancient Greece & the music of ancient Rome, with both original compositions for lyre in a selection of some of the original ancient musical modes, as well as arrangements of some of some of the actual music of ancient Greece. These recording projects can be heard in Michael's album releases between 2009 - 2013.




COLLABORATION WITH LUTHIEROS IN "THE LYRE 2.0 PROJECT"


Since 2014, Michael has also been closely collaborating with Luthieros; the specialist replica lyre makers in Thessaloníki, Greece, in their inspirational "Lyre 2.0 Project" - dedicated to reintroducing the beautiful lyres of antiquity back into the hands of every modern musician; a fascinating project now featured as a new entry in the world-renowned “Ancient History Encyclopaedia”


As part of Michael’s ongoing collaboration with Luthieros, he performed his first series of international live lyre performances in Thessaloniki in October 2015:






In his more recent album releases since 2014, Michael has focused on recording with more authentic replica ancient Greek tortoise shell lyres and the kithara of the 'Golden Age' of classical Greece (hand-made in modern Greece by Luthieros):








 



MICHAEL'S YOUTUBE CHANNEL


A broad selection of examples  of Michael's work can be found on his extensive YouTube Channel which currently has over eleven thousand subscribers:

 

 

Michael's most viewed video on YouTube, his arrangement for solo lyre of the Bronze Age Hurrian Hymn Text H6, which at about 3,400 years old, is the oldest written melody so far discovered in history, featured in an article in "The Daily Mail Online"


 

USE OF MICHAEL'S HISTORIC LYRE MUSIC AT INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED MUSEUMS AROUND THE WORLD


A selection of Michael's ancient Biblical-themed music, from his albums "King David's Lyre; Echoes of Ancient Israel" and "King David's Harp" are to be featured in perpetuity, as the soundscapes being created for the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC, which will open on 17th November 2017...




 




In August 2017, track 1 from Michael's album, "Ode to Ancient Rome" was used in conjunction with a 3D animation by Lafactoria 3D, in which featured the scanning and digital reconstruction of a damaged Roman marble statue, found in Muradella (Verín) in 1964.

Currently both the original statue and the 3D animation of its reconstruction is on display in the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Ourense, Spain:




Between April 7, 2014 to Jan. 5, 2015, tracks from Michael's 2011 compilation album, "Ancient Landscapes" were used in a video presentation in support of the exhibition "In Remembrance of Me: Feasting with the Dead in the Ancient Middle East", hosted by the University of Chicago Oriental Institute Museum:





 




Between June 22, 2013 to January 5, 2014, Michael's new arrangement for solo lyre of Dr Richard Dumbrill's interpretation of the 3400 year old Hurrian Hymn from Ugarit was featured at the exhibition, "Mesopotamia", at the Royal Ontario Museum. 

 


 


In June 2013, Michael was invited to perform tracks from his albums "Ode To Ancient Rome" & "Echoes of Ancient Rome" in support of the exhibition at the British Museum, "Life & Death in Pompeii & Herculaneum"  


 





Coinciding with the Pompeii exhibition, a display in Room 3 of the British Museum - "Silver Service: Fine Dining in Roman Britain"  also featured tracks from Michael's Roman-themed albums, used to help set the mood of a reconstruction of a Roman dining room. Running from 23rd May - 4th August 2013, the display was part of the 'Objects in Focus' series which features the Mildenhall Great Dish displayed in the context of a late Roman dining room, including an evocation of a stibadium, the semi-circular couch which would have been in use at the time the dish was produced...


 

 




Also in 2013, Michael was invited to provide Roman-themed lyre music for a presentation by the ancient food expert, author and TV chef, Sally Grainger at the replica Roman Villa at Butser Ancient Farm:









Tracks from Michael's albums"A Well Tuned Lyre - The Just Intonation of Antiquity""The Ancient Greek Modes" & "The Ancient Egyptian Harp" featured in an exhibition entitled "In The Shadow of Olympus", (Vestnu Olympu) held at the National Museum of Prague between December 2012 - March 2013

 



Since May 2012, as part of the UK "Museums at Night Festival", Michael has regularly been invited to performs and talk about his lyres, live at the world famous Roman Baths at Bath Spa...




 


 

RADIO PRODUCTIONS FEATURING MICHAEL'S LYRE MUSIC

Michael's music has been featured on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, as well as an in-depth interview bout his arrangement for solo lyre, of the 3400 year old Hurrian Hymn from ancient Ugarit (the oldest substantial fragment of a written melody so far discovered in History), on the Paul Franks Show, BBC Radio WM.

Internationally, Michael's music has featured on Beirut National Public Radio, the German Radio Station WDR3 (in a broadcast about the arched harp from Myanmar),  a full length interview on the German Radio Station "Freies Radio Wüste Welle"  and a 3-part series of in depth interviews about the purpose of his ongoing musical mission, in a podcast series presented by the New York radio producer, Zach Martin, which including examples of many tracks from his albums. 

A freely downloadable compilation of excerpts of some of these radio shows and podcasts which have featured both Michael's lyre music and the interviews about his musical mission to reintroduce the lyre of antiquity into the modern world, is available from Bandcamp:

 

 




USE OF MICHAEL'S LYRE MUSIC IN TELEVISION AND DVD PRODUCTIONS


In April 2017, Michael featured on the national Greek TV channel, EPT3, in an episode of the Greek language documentary series, "Beyond Borders", which was on the reconstruction of ancient instruments.




 



In 2013, a clip of Michael's composition "Ode To Ancient Rome" was featured in episode 3, series 21 of the ITV prime-time comedy series "Through the Key Hole" as background music to a scene featuring the Roman-themed swimming pool in the home of Kerry Katona:





In November 2012, Michael's lyre music featured in episode 2 of the 4-part BBC television documentary series "The Dark Ages: An Age of Light"  by ZCZ Fims, directed & presented by the Sunday Times art critic, Waldemar Januszczak






COLLABORATION WITH OTHER ARTISTS


In January 2017, Michael collaborated with the Egyptian film score composer, Remon Sakr, in providing ancient Egyptian-themed lyre improvisations for two of the tracks from his album, "The Epic of Thebes"






In May 2012, Michael collaborated with the composers MaryAnne & Michael Tedstone, in performing lyre music, recorded at the George Martin Air Edel Studio, for an epic Roman-themed album "SPQR" for use in television & film, licensed by the renowned Felt Music Library:






USE OF MICHAEL'S LYRE MUSIC IN FEATURE FILMS


Michael's composition, "The Sanctuary of Apollo" from his 2010 release, "The Ancient Greek Modes" is to feature in a new movie currently being produced by Michael Stillwater, "In Search of The Great Song"



 



In 2013, music from Michael's album "Apollo's Lyre" was featured in a feature film by Sean Kane, about the life of the ancient Greek Philosopher Plato, "Plato: The Cave"

 


 

In 2012, Michael's historic music also featured in the Medieval-themed film "Becket 2"produced by Michael D Perkins

Becket 2_resized   

 


 

USE OF MICHAEL'S LYRE MUSIC IN THEATRE PRODUCTIONS


Tracks from Michael's album "The Ancient Greek Lyre" featured in the Mexico National University Theater Festival (XXI Festival Nacional (e Internacional) de Teatro Universitario)

 


The play, directed by Ricardo Ruiz Lezama, is about the ancient Greek myth of "Pygmalion". It is about a sculptor who falls in love with his creation. He prays to Aphrodite to meet someone like the sculpture, but Aphrodite knows the true and hidden desire of Pygmalion: he wants Galatea, his sculpture, to come to life. Aphrodite, touched by Pygmalion´s love, grants him his wish. The play is a monologue written by Jean-Jacques Rosseau.



USE OF MICHAEL'S LYRE MUSIC IN BALLET PRODUCTIONS

Michael's composition "Nero's Lyre" was featured in the 2015 ballet London production by Riccardo Buscarini, entitled "No Lander"





"In an endless space, five dancers play sailors lost at sea... nothing to hang on to, no roots, no light, no land... just a never ending horizon of waves. A melancholic and subtle meditation on the themes of Homer’s Odyssey, No Lander reflects upon longing and belonging. No Lander was initially developed as part of Middlesex University/ResCen research project ‘ArtsCross London 2013: Leaving Home, Being Elsewhere’ in August 2013 where a 10 minute version of the work was created"

 



USE OF MICHAEL'S LYRE MUSIC IN PODCASTS, AUDIO BOOKS & EDUCATIONAL PUBLICATIONS


In 2017, Michael's arrangement of the 3400 year old Hurrian Hymn from ancient Ugarit, from his 2009 album, "An Ancient Lyre", was featured in the first episode of the Anthrochef podcast series, "The History of Food"



In 2016, Michael's ancient Greek themed music was featured in "The History of Ancient Greece" podcast by Ryan Stitt.





Also in 2016, Michael's ancient Greek-themed music featured in episode 3 of the Vegan Option's podcast, "Pythagoreans (Vegetarianism: The Story So Far)"





In 2012, Michael's music was featured in the iTunes Podcast show"The Podcast History of Our World" by Rob Monaco.This free podcast series to use my music, features episodes detailing the history of the ancient Hebrews/Israelites - click on the button below to hear this fascinating Podcast:

WORLD 

 



Music from his album"Apollo's Lyre" was featured in an audio book by TM Camp, called "The Cradle". The book is inspired, in part, by the story of 'Baucis and Philemon' from Ovid.

tHE cRADLE_resized

 



Clips from Michael's album "The Ancient Egyptian Harp"  were featured in a new CD of children's stories abut the ancient world, "Music in Stories" by Robina Wilson 

MUSIC_IN_STORIIES_resized_cropped 

 



Michael's composition "Ancient Lyre Strings" (track 18, "Musical Adventures in Time Travel") featured in the accompanying CD to an educational publication by A&C Black: "Music Express Book 3". This book was aimed at primary school teachers, and has an accompanying CD and CD-Rom, featuring audio and video clips to support the songs/poems and lesson plans in the book.




 

Michael's composition "The Temple of Mars" from his album "Echoes of Ancient Rome" has also been licensed for use in an accompanying CD to a school educational publication by Moderna Publications in Brazil.





MICHAEL'S WORK FEATURED IN INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIA

 

 In 2013, Michael's research into recreating the lyre performance techniques of antiquity found International academic recognition and was featured in a full length article by Diana Rowan entitled "The Universal Lyre: Three Perspectives" published in "The American Harp Journal"


In February 2017, tracks from Michael's albums "Apollo's Lyre" and "The Ancient Greek Lyre" are to be featured in a video for the exhibition "Le ambre della principessa" at Gallerie d'Italia, Palazzo Leoni Montanari, Vicenza, Italy.

In this exhibition, the video featuring Michael's music, recreates in 3D, one of the rooms of the dancers tomb of Ruvo di Puglia (Italy), suggesting for the first time a reconstruction of the structure, discovered in the first half of 19th century, and irreparably dismembered. Michael's lyre music will be used to create an evocative music to the dance scene:

 

 


In January 2011, Michael's live performance of "Hurrian Hymn (Text H6) , the oldest fragment of written music so far discovered in History, featured in an article in “The Biblical Archaeology Review” and in November 2013, Michael's performance of the oldest complete piece of written music so far discovered in History, the 2000 year old "Epitaph of Seikilos", was featured in a story in "The Australian Daily Telepgraph".

Michael's arrangement of "The First Delphic Hymn To Apollo” was used in a DVD lecture "The Great Tours: Greece & Turkey” by Professor John R Hale of the University of Louisville, produced by The Great Courses Teaching Company  

Michael's more recent arrangement of the First Delphic Hymn in just intonation(from his album "A Well Tuned Lyre - The Just Intonation of Antiquity") has been licensed for use in both a course on ancient Greek architecture hosted by the Oxford Royale Academy Prep & for an on-line humanities course run by MindEdge in the USA.

Music from his albums "A Well Tuned Lyre - The Just Intonation of Antiquity" & "Echoes of Ancient Rome" were used in a series of scholarly lectures & videos on the Pythagorean influence on the design of Byzantine architecture, in a conference at the UCLA presented by Dr Ruth Dwyer

 

 



USE OF MICHAEL'S LYRE MUSIC
 IN CULT PC GAMES


Some of Michael's Roman & Greek-themed tracks are featured in a modification of the cult PC Game, 'Rome Total War' - based on a modification called Rome Total Realism VII Gold, it is called "Rome Total Realism VII Platinum"...








Michael's ancient-themed lyre music also features in the PC game, "Europs Barbarorum II" - a total conversion of Medieval II Total War:





 


COMMERCIAL USE OF MICHAEL'S MUSIC

In 2014, a brief clip of from Michael's track "Hymn  to Hermes" from his album, "The Ancient Greek Lyre" was licensed as a the official audio logo for the University of Princeton's "Theoretica Applied Physics" website.





In 2013, a clip from Michael's Album, "A Well Tuned Lyre - The Just Intonation of Antiquity" was recently used in a radio advertising campaign, produced by the Postmodern Company, on behalf of the USA-based restaurant chain, "Noodles & Company"

 

noodle logo





"Authentic Lyre...

I'm an audio engineer who makes commercials, and I had a client who wrote a radio spot specifically around a 4th century Greek Lyre. I would normally turn to my music libraries for this, but quickly found out it wasn't something I was going to find. A web search led me to Michael Levy, and this album. I emailed Michael, and pretty painlessly set up a licensing agreement. The recording was broadcast quality, authentic sounding,and I found a melodic segment that fit our needs perfectly. Happy client - thanks Michael! "

postmod chuck - Amazon (USA) Review of "A Well Tuned Lyre - The Just Intonation of Antiquity" 

 

 



The track "Rites of Baal" from Michael's ancient Mesopotamian-themed album, "Ancient Visions - New Compositions For An Ancient Lyre" was used to promote the historical-themed board game "Ancient Civilizations; Cities & Settlements", by Bajosocial Productions:






USE OF MICHAEL'S MUSIC IN MUSIC LIBRARIES


A compilation of Michael's best works have been registered with the SRL Networks Music LibraryThis compilation can be heard & shared by clicking on the image below:





 

BRIEF PERSONAL BIOGRAPHY


Michael was born in Liverpool in 1968 & studied Philosophy at the University of Hull. After living in Manchester, where for many years, he worked as both a piano tutor, he now lives with his wife & daughter, Rosalind & Rosie, on the border of semi-rural South Wales, UK : where in his new role, as a full-time "Musical Shaman", he continues to his relentless quest - bringing new life, to the mostly lost music of the ancient world...

 

 


 

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