Yiorgos Vassilandonakis

Professor, Music Theory/Composition

Address: Cato Center, Room 204
Phone: 843.953.3845
E-mail: vassilandonakisy@cofc.edu

Driven by a strong dramatic and formal sense, Yiorgos Vassilandonakis’ music is emotionally engaging and cerebral at the same time. Venturing into chamber, vocal, orchestral, opera, film, electronic & multimedia genres, his works reveal a mastery of timbre, sonority and temporal space, and a deep interest in sound itself as a physical entity.

"...A fascinating collection of sounds, inventive performance techniques, some of which [are] first-time events..." (San Francisco Chronicle), "...an intimate, soft poetry that consumed the audience..." (Repeat Performances), "...lingering sonorities and delicacies..." (San Francisco Classical Voice), Vassilandonakis’ music is frequently programmed on both sides of the Atlantic, and has been commissioned and performed, among others, by the New York New Music Ensemble, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Juilliard Percussion Ensemble, ALEA III, the Del Sol String Quartet, Ensemble Cairn, Meridian Arts Ensemble, Ensemble In Extensio, the Athens Camerata and the Hellenic Contemporary Ensemble. It has been supported by grants from Meet-the-Composer, the American Music Center and the French Ministry of Culture, and featured in the Aspen, Ernest Bloch, Domaine Forget, Wellesley and Patras International Festivals.

His one-act opera Dance with Me was commissioned and staged by the National Opera of Greece in 2008. A progressive work combining non-linear narrative and film montage techniques with virtuosic vocal writing and intricate instrumental textures, Dance with Me was enthusiastically received by both audience and critics, who wrote: "...a fresh take on the operatic genre...", "…the composer takes advantage of the non-linear time element and stock characters with exceptional inventiveness and control, setting up a kind of a ‘merry-go-round’ narrative, which has no beginning and no end, creating an atmosphere that feels indifferent and chilling at the same time, something I've never experienced before in a lyrical piece...", "...truly original and captivating, to both the initiated and the novice...", "...innovative, yet easy to follow, with characters set into music masterfully...", "...what a glorious moment for Greek language contemporary operatic works, an almost non-entity. Vassilandonakis is clearly the one to watch out for...".

Yiorgos holds advanced degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, where his principal composition teachers were Edmund Campion, Richard Felciano, John Thow, Jorge Liderman and Cindy Cox. As the recipient of the George Ladd Prix de Paris, he spent two years in Paris, studying advanced composition, orchestration and electronic music with Philippe Leroux, at the École Nationale de Musique et de Danse, Erik Satie. He also studied composition with Paul Reale and Ian Krouse, and Film Music with the legendary Jerry Goldsmith, Paul Chihara & Don Ray. His conducting teachers were David Milnes and Jeffrey Schindler.

During the 90's, he pursued a successful career as a film composer and arranger in the Hollywood indie movie scene, with credits as a composer, conductor, and producer of scores for theater, independent films, television documentaries and commercials, as well as a theme park ride at Universal Studios, Hollywood.

A dedicated educator, Dr. Vassilandonakis has taught Composition and Music Theory at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Virginia, as well as electronic music at the Centre de Création Musicale, Iannis Xenakis, in Paris, before joining the faculty at the College of Charleston in 2010.

He has penned essays and interviews published in the Computer Music Journal (MIT Press), and the College Reference Dictionary Musicians and Composers of the 20th Century (Salem Press), and has held composing residencies at Yaddo and at Cité Internationale Des Arts.

Also active as a conductor and proponent of contemporary music, he has conducted the GuitArte Ensemble, the Young People's Symphony Orchestra, the Prometheus Symphony Orchestra, the UCLA Philharmonia, and the UC Berkeley Symphony. He was the Music Director at the Oakland Cathedral of the Ascension, and is the Composer-In-Residence with the Worn Chamber Ensemble in San Francisco.


University of California, Berkeley
MA & Ph.D.:

University of California, Los Angeles
BA, summa cum laude

École Nationale de Musique et de Danse, Erik Satie
Diplome des Études Musicales:

Hellenic Conservatory, Athens, Greece
Diploma in Music Theory:

Research Interests

Music Theory
Contemporary Music
Film Music
Electronic Music

Courses Taught

MUSC 131 - Music Appreciation
MUSC 352
- Seminar in Music Composition
MUSC 460
- Senior Independent Study in Music Theory or Composition
MUSC 481
- Music Theory III
MUSC 482
- Music Theory IV

Honors and Awards

2011 Aaron Copland Award
George Ladd Prix de Paris
Meet the Composer Grant
First Prize; Mediterranean Music Center Third International Composition Competition
Alfred Hertz Fellowship
for Graduate Studies
Henry Mancini Award
Eisner Prize in Music
Nicola di Lorenzo Prize