We owe the concept of apeiron (ἀπείρων) to the ancient Greeks. Living so close to the elements, they experienced constant turmoil. Nothing was taken for granted – as states rose and fell, and war was constant, while plagues and natural disasters were frequent visitors.
Yet, like us, they experienced beauty and joy. It told them that no matter how fleeting a moment was, it must contain within it a spark of truth. Something that lasts beyond the flux of the everyday and transcends it. As their philosophers paced the agora, they argued over which elements composed this truth – was it fire? Water? Ideas? Man himself?
Their clever arguments collapsed in debate, always falling back into the wild and ceaseless void underneath. This was apeiron: the origin of all things, the undifferentiated fountainhead out of which we are formed. And to which we inevitably return. Sometimes translated as ‘boundless’ or ‘unbound,’ because it could not be tied down, in one form or another, for very long.
Contemporary Western philosophers often return to ancient Greek thought. As if retracing our steps in the hope of finding a road not taken, or a lost path through our present conundrums. Even millennia later, concepts like apeiron retain their mystery and allure. They force us to question what the nature of this being we experience reallyis; or how being thrown into a restless world can shape us, our truths, and its poetry.
So allow us a little bit of reinterpretation. Apeiron means getting back to the root of things. Summoning up a fleeting form – whether a musical phrase, a feeling, or an idea – from long ago and giving it new life. It is a wild thing, which when captured always escapes; and when heard always disappears, never to be heard again.
But it leaves us a little changed. Hopefully resonating with those other moments of beauty and truth that have changed us before too.
Text: Drew Ninnis
Apeiron Baroque was launched in 2022 by Early Music specialists, John Ma and Marie Searles. After honing their skills in the concert halls and ensembles of Europe over nearly two decades, the pair returned to Canberra to reconnect with family and to share their knowledge and experience with Australian colleagues and audiences.
Taking cues from genres of music such as pub bands, jazz, and folk; Apeiron aims to present high-quality concerts that are honest, raw, and passionate in a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Repertoire is chosen from the early Baroque (c.1700) through to the early Romantic (c.1850) and performed on period instruments in historically appropriate styles.
Performances are designed to be entertaining, informative, and accessible to all ages and backgrounds. A newcomer should not fear the experience and unspoken etiquettes of a Classical concert hall!
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