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Prestigeous “Europa Nostra” prize awarded to Nicosia June 28, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Cyprus Nicosia.
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According to the Cyprus News Agency, the 16th century Omeriye Ottoman Baths in Nicosia have been awarded the prize for the Conservation of Architectural Heritage, within the framework of the annual “European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards”.

The prize was presented Tuesday in Madrid to 34 laureates from 22 countries. Nicosia Mayor Michalakis Zambelas received the award from Queen Sofia of Spain, during the European Heritage Awards Ceremony at the Palacio Real del El Pardo.

Zambelas said that on November 20, 2006 the plaque of the award will be placed at the entrance of the Baths by Europa Nostra officials, who will then tour the site.

Zambelas also said that he had a brief private conversation with Queen Sofia, who expressed a wish to visit Cyprus and satisfaction that a Nicosia monument has been awarded a Europa Nostra prize.


Music > Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis June 28, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Greek.
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Mario Frangoulis is a young tenor from Greece, but those facts alone do not begin to describe him.

Born in Africa, in colonial Rhodesia, as it was becoming the nation of Zimbabwe, he survived a childhood marked by hardships both at home and in the world outside. At the age of four, his mother found a home for him with her sister in Greece, at a time when the political situation in Africa was explosive and dangerous. Raised by his aunt in Greece and separated from his beloved older brother, Mario was surrounded with a large extended family. Today, he speaks fondly of both sets of parents and the feeling for music they instilled in him.

He studied the violin and even composed a bit when he was a boy. At the age of 17 he was sent to London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study acting. The stage was an obvious choice because, among other things, Mario is handsome enough to be a matinee idol. In fact, he has already wowed audiences on London’s West End as the dashing young heroes of Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera.

But in his days as a drama student at Guildhall, Mario discovered the operatic side of his tenor voice, winning the Maria Callas Prize, which he auditioned for simply because he knew some arias and a friend encouraged him. Juggling this newfound ambition with his burgeoning stage career, he found himself on a path that took him to New York’s Juilliard School of Music as a scholarship student and won him the support and counsel of such operatic legends as Alfredo Kraus and Marilyn Horne. He was the only private student the late Kraus ever accepted.

“I always sang, from an early age, with a record player, with Greek singers, of course, but also recordings of movie musicals, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand,” Mario remembers. “I knew I had a good voice but I didn’t know I had an operatic voice. In the beginning, I was against anyone saying I had that kind of operatic sound. I had always felt I didn’t belong in that category. I wanted to communicate the music, and I didn’t think opera singers sounded young enough, modern enough. Then I saw a performance of Carmen in Athens with Jose Carreras and Agnes Baltsa, and I realized I could be all of those things.”

At the instigation of Horne, Mario went to Rome for Kraus and Nicola Rescigno, who was Maria Callas’s favorite conductor. Both were impressed. He became Kraus’s student, flying all over the world to take lessons as the great tenor continued to perform. The experience gave Frangoulis a solid vocal technique and good high notes, both hallmarks of Kraus’s style. Yet the career Mario has built is anything but a conventional operatic career. He sang the role of Tony in West Side Story in its first performances at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. He has appeared in films and on television, in concerts and even in epic presentations of Greek tragedies.

In his native Greece, Mario has been acclaimed in everything from the role of high-school hero Danny Zuko in Grease to a production of Aristophanes’ The Birds featuring the songs of Greek composer Manos Hajiidakis, the Oscar-winning composer of “Never On Sunday”, in the ancient amphitheater at Epidaurus. As an actor, Mario has played leading roles in King Lear, The Bacchae and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and he created the title role in Kit Hesketh-Harvey and James Mackonnell’s Yusupov.

“Any beautiful song without strong lyrics is like a child without a family.”
Mario Frangoulis



Media > Sparta magazine June 28, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Media Radio TV.
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Sparta: Discovering Ancient Sparta and Greek History

Sparta magazine, the only UK’s educational print periodical for ancient Sparta and Greek history, is on stands now.

Sparta (ISSN 1751-0007) magazine is a strictly educational periodical which derived from the free full-text electronic Journal entitled Sparta’s Journal (ISSN 1747-0005). It aims to provide detailed and original discussion on ancient Sparta’s archaeological and historical issues.

Today the print, and under subscription available Sparta magazine, provides quality of educational material. It informs and educates. It gives the opportunity to discover an ancient nation in a multilingual and multi-principal manner.

Sparta offers the opportunity to advance students, teachers, independent scholars and academics as well as artists and history lovers to publish their thoughts and studies in the most original approach.

The current issue (volume 2 no. 1 2006) has the following contents:

‘First beginnings’: Robert Montgomerie presents this introductory article outlining the origins of Ancient Sparta. Newcomers to Spartan and ancient Greek history will be able to use the article as a good starting point. Established students will find that “First beginnings” will provide an excellent source of reference for their studies.

‘Demaratus: Spartan king & exile’: The Spartan king Demaratus has always been seen as ‘dubious’ character in the events surrounding the Second Persian Wars. Paul Houston delves into Demaratus´ story according to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus. A new look into an old question & . The results are quite original and surprising.

‘Leonidas: Age of Death’: Leonidas, famous for his actions at the battle of Thermopylae in which he died. Surprising as it may seem, there has been a long term debate as regards to his age of death. Nikolaos Markoulakis uses both ancient and modern material in an effort to solve this question. An article that will benefit the serious student of Spartan history in ‘clearing-up’ an often disputed point in Spartan history.

‘The Spin on Sparta’: Jon. E. Martin, Author of “Shades of Artemis” presents this personal look at the changing attitude towards Sparta over the years. How has Sparta influenced the western world over the decades? What inspires people’s interest in Sparta? This and more is revealed in “The Spin on Sparta”.

‘Cleomenes: A controversial king’: This second article from Robert Montgomerie delves into the life and times of the Spartan king Cleomenes. Topics such as the Agoge and more are covered in this in-depth article about one of the more controversial Spartan kings. A first class article with first class research.

Visit the following URL for more information: http://www.markoulakispublications.org.uk/main/index.php?id=18

Visit the magazine’s website: http://www.sparta.markoulakispublications.org.uk/

Sparta is an informal community, established by the editorial board, the authors and subscribers.

Books > Greek classic “Antigone” in a comic edition June 28, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life.
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Silent Devil presents Antigone, a 32-page black and white one-shot by writer David Hopkins and artist Tom Kurzanski. The creative team won accolades for last year’s mini-series Karma Incorporated, published by Viper Comics.

Antigone is based directly off Sophocles’ play of the same title. In the story, Antigone stands against King Creon for the right to bury her dead brother. This new version of the Oedipus trilogy is a Goth fantasy, mixing ancient and modern, a dark, twisted, and distorted perspective, playfully obscure.

“My previous works, Karma Incorporated and Emily Edison, all dealt with the same theme of dysfunctional families,” explains David Hopkins. “Antigone would be the epitome of this subject matter. I’m really interested in the ‘house drama’ as the starting point for all my stories.”

Antigone will feature an epilogue by Aaron Thomas Nelson, an expert on Ancient Greek Literature. The book will be available for pre-order in the August edition of Diamond Previews and will hit store shelves this fall. Please visit www.silentdevil.com and www.antiherocomics.com for more details.

Books > “Persian Fire” the original clash of empires June 28, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life.
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PERSIAN FIRE: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, by Tom Holland. Doubleday, 418 pp., $27.50.

The ancients, too, had their ancients. The Romans could look for inspiration back to the Greeks – who were, in turn, fascinated and mystified by the Egyptians. And the Egyptians, too, must have felt like latecomers. They had adopted and refined the innovations of an earlier civilization: Mesopotamia, where some forgotten genius first conceived the idea of scratching marks into clay so that information could be stored and retrieved.

But it was only relatively recently – not even 2,500 years ago – that anyone had the bright idea of treating the past as something you could investigate, rather than just dutifully and uncritically record with strange feelings of awe. The man with the plan was a well-traveled and lively writer named Herodotus, a Greek resident of what is now called Turkey. He invented a new kind of prose he dubbed “historia” (borrowing for his own purposes an expression meaning “inquiry” or “research”).

In “Persian Fire,” Tom Holland has returned to the subject of Herodotus’ pioneering effort – and done so in a way that the founding father of history would have admired. The subject in question is the Persian War, which nowadays looks like the original “clash of civilizations.”

The regime ruled by the “King of Kings” in the East – an empire that had already swallowed the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, and reached as far as India – was by 480 BC prepared to conquer the almost hopelessly disunited city-states of Greece.

One of them, Athens, had recently instituted a strange new political system called “democracy.” Another, Sparta, had a rather Orwellian culture designed to produce the largest possible number of alpha males per capita. And there was Syracuse – sort of a Yuppie gated community avant la lettre.

This squabbling bunch was united only by prejudice against non-Greeks, who seemed to be saying “bar, bar, bar.” (Hence, “barbarians.”) They pulled together long enough to repel an onslaught of some 250,000 invading troops from the backward-looking East, home of the already-ancient principle that human beings were naturally servile. “You should submit to the strong man,” an old formula there had it; “you should humble yourself before the man who wields power.”

Indeed, while reading the first few pages, one expects a clear-cut set of parallels to be drawn between past and present – with Greece, as birthplace of democracy, being something like the original victim of Islamofascism. (Which would be plenty anachronistic, of course, but that’s never stopped anyone from drawing an absurd analogy before.)

The parallels are not nearly that straightforward. When Holland does insert Iraq war references (such as “mission accomplished”) or bits of political lingo, the effect is often sly and incongruous.

He calls the emergence of the hoplites in Sparta as a “revolution in military affairs” – a bit of contemporary Pentagon jargon that proves quite fitting. The hoplites were a new sort of combat force: a toughened, plebian infantry armed with shields who marched in compact, highly disciplined phalanxes. (As contrasted with the aristocratic methods of the old school, in which gentleman-warriors fought on horseback.) It was a “radical and lethal new form of warfare,” albeit one much less technocratic than the push-button methods favored by the more recent “revolution in military affairs.”

Holland is not Tom Clancy in a toga, however. Elements of military wonkery are always tightly linked to cultural and political history. His treatment of how domestic and foreign policy were intertwined in the city-states is smart and illuminating; and, like Herodotus, he makes every effort to understand the Persian empire on its own terms.

Instead of treating Darius and Xerxes as purely reactionary despots, he focuses on the role in their worldview of a (relatively) new outlook: the Zoroastrian belief in a single god who embodied, and demanded, the Truth. This brought with it “some radical notions: that foreign foes might be crushed as infidels; that warriors might be promised paradise; that conquest in the name of a god might become a moral duty.”

Does that sound like Osama’s worldview? Sure, but not his alone. Holland presents an extraordinarily complex and exciting story in a way that draws the nonspecialist reader along – then, every so often, reminds you of the present, in ways that are jarring. For the Persians were quite sure that they were on the cutting edge of the future: “History, in effect, had been brought to a glorious close,” writes Holland. Their regime, stretching as far as the eye could see, “might be expected to endure for all eternity: infinite, unshakable, the watchtower of the Truth.”

The end of history … a new world order … The past, as they say, is prologue.

Cultural Amphictyonia events in Delphi June 28, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece.
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A nearly month-long series of cultural events and world affairs fora, the “Cultural Amphictyonia 2006″, officially get under way Friday at the European Cultural Centre of Delphi (ECCD), near the actual site of the eponymous ancient oracle, with the primary and week-long international conference, entitled “The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century: Reforms in Goals, Structure and Functions”, beginning on Saturday.

ECCD board chairman Prof. Helen Ahrweiler-Glykatzi and ECCD director Prof. Christodoulos Yiallouridis will declare the sessions open on Friday, with the Greek culture and transport ministers, George Voulgarakis and Mihalis Liapis, respectively, expected to address delegates. Other dignitaries expected to attend are Cyprus’ new Foreign Minister George Lilikas, Egyptian Deputy FM Naela Gabr, UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari as well as Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis. Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos is also expected to attend the opening of the “Cultural Amphictyonia”.

Lecture themes include titles such as former IAEA legal adviser Odette Jankowitsch-Prevor’s “The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Today: Cracks in the Edifice or Obsolescence?” to noted Washington-based terrorism analyst Anthony Cordesman’s “US Strategy for Counter-terrorism and the Evolving Threats” to Geneva University Prof. Andreas Auer’s “Peace and Security: The Case of Cyprus”.

Beyond the geo-political portions of the international meetings, other thematic presentations range from “Peace and War in Homer” to “Approaches to the Trojan War in Western European Painting” to “From Goya to Jake and Dinos Chapman: Artists Against War”, as well as the staging of ancient and contemporary plays at the archaeological site’s outdoor theatre.

The international conference takes its name from the Great Amphictyonic League of antiquity, which was founded around 1100 BC for the protection and administration of the temple of Apollo in Delphi, in south-central Greece, and the temple of Demeter near Thermopylae, further to the east. According to ancient legends the league was founded by Amphictyon, the brother of Hellen, the common ancestor of all Hellenes (Greeks).

Greece to create unified research center June 28, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Technology.
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Greek government has announced the creation of a single center that will register, coordinate and control all activities regarding research and technology in Greece, local media reported on Tuesday.

Ministers of Defense Evangelos Meimarakis and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas announced on Monday that the two ministries, together with the education ministry, had worked out a bill relating to research and technology.

According to the bill, the center will establish rules and criteria which will govern all research and technology programs and capitalize on Greek research potential.

The bill also aims at drafting the general lines for the next twenty years, responding to the criteria of the 7th research and technology framework and the Lisbon objectives.