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Greek brothers transform church July 14, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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From his perch high atop a tower of scaffolding, Panagiotis Christodoulou spread glue on the inside of the dome of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church on Thursday morning and began pressing a life-size painting of an Old Testament prophet into its place.

When Christodoulou came to the image’s head, his brother, Dimitris, reached down from where he was lying one level of scaffolding higher and patted the canvas flat against the dome. The brothers, skilled iconographers from Greece, arrived in Saco earlier this week to adorn St. Demetrios with the religious imagery that tradition requires must be displayed in a Greek Orthodox church.

Their collaboration on the $250,000 project actually began in their workshop a year ago, when they started painting the 50 or so images they are now installing. “I paint the skin and face and hands, and my brother paints the clothing,” said Panagiotis, 38, who is four years older than his brother.

The siblings work in a tradition of religious artistry that has changed little in more than 2,000 years. Paintings such as theirs, images of biblical figures and scenes rendered in simple, direct forms and bold colors, have been displayed in Greek Orthodox churches since the time of Christ.

Custom dictates where these images appear in the church. A depiction of Jesus Christ adorns the roof of the dome, which represents heaven. Below him are angels and prophets. Saints and biblical events are found on the walls.

For believers, the paintings are a reminder of God’s human presence on Earth in the form of Jesus Christ. “For us, it’s the evidence that God came amongst us, as opposed to other religions that believe God is up there waiting,” said St. Demetrios’ pastor, the Rev. Basil Arabatzis.

Although their work is defined by tradition and history, the brothers said there are subtle opportunities to be creative within the art form. Even so, the brothers said their paintings are not about personal expression. They are unsure if they will sign the work when they are finished; if they do, custom requires that their signatures appear below the Virgin Mary’s foot.

“This is not for personal satisfaction,” Panagiotis Christodoulou said. “You don’t show your ego. You’re part of something larger.”

The approximately 600 members of St. Demetrios moved from their former place of worship in downtown Biddeford to the new church on Route 5 in Saco six years ago. The iconography project is one of the finishing touches on the Byzantine-style church with a 35-foot-tall dome. Over three weeks, the brothers from northern Greece intend to complete the church’s dome and one wall. Icons will be created for the other walls in another phase.

The brothers’ wives accompanied them from Greece to help with the work. All four are living in the church while they are in Maine. A tight schedule requires them to be done with the dome and disassemble the scaffolding for a wedding next weekend. The brothers start work at 6 a.m. and continue until midnight. This is the first time the Christodoulou brothers have worked in the United States.

Arabatzis, the priest, said it was no accident that brought them here. The pastor met the iconographers four years ago after he was visiting a monastery in central Greece and struck up a conversation with a stranger who referred him to them. After considering the work of several artists from the United States and abroad, a church committee chose the Christodoulous for the quality of their work. They also turned out to have made the lowest bid.

The brothers said they, too, saw the hand of a higher power behind these events. “Chance is not our area. We believe it was something else,” Panagiotis Christodoulou said.

As the men labored in the dome’s upper reaches Thursday, several members of St. Demetrios walked through the sanctuary to admire the progress. Many were moved by the sight of the two men carrying on an ancient art form in their church.

“It transcends time,” said Paul McDowell, examining several images laid out on the floor in preparation for being hung. “Especially in a culture where everything is new and improved, it’s timeless.”

Editor’s Note > This article By Seth Harkness, Copyright © 2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

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Same old Greek goodness at Olympia July 14, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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New digs, but the same old Greek goodness at Olympia

A freckle-faced girl has chosen a pretty pink headband for her family’s visit to Olympia’s new Bradley Square location.

She sits prim and sweet, slowly nibbling away at a chicken strip’s breading. Nearby, a friendly preschooler stands on his chair to peep over a room divider and say hello to diners behind him. Servers hurry about, taking time to drop a smile here and birthday wishes there, despite the dinner rush. Old friends catching up clog a waitress’ path, and orders are backed up in the kitchen, but no one seems to mind the chaos. This is a true family restaurant.

Olympia has been the laid-back, local Greek place for a long time, and its late-May move from Wrightsville Beach to Wilmington hasn’t changed that. Familiar faces serve the restaurant’s Greek standbys along with plenty of seafood, Italian and stuff kids will eat, all in a tight green and pale coral dining room that still has a fish tank.

Hummus is good evidence of Olympia’s seasoned kitchen. A deft hand has perfectly balanced garbanzos, tahini and lemon juice in a dense dip that’s easy to scoop but doesn’t drip from soft, warm pita triangles. Order it on the mighty Zeus platter and you’ll also get a feta-rich triangle of spanakopita, a few stuffed grape leaves, a mound of tart, garlicky skordalia (potato spread) and loads of fried calamari, shrimp and fat, sweet scallops.

The heavy seafood menu may surprise some diners used to typical Greek listings of gyros, Greek salad, kabobs and leg of lamb. But remember that Greece is a peninsula hacked by time into lots of little islands scattered in the Aegean Sea. Fish is a key part of the cuisine and it shows up fried, stuffed, sauteed and baked at Olympia. Grouper Mykonos, on special one night, featured a half-inch-thick filet baked under sweet, chunky onion sauce and finished with broiled feta.

Keep in mind, too, that the ancient Greeks immigrated to southern Italy and ethnic Greeks live there today. Olympia honors the Boot with Alfredo, scampi and red-sauced favorites such as chicken, eggplant and veal parmesans. The veal isn’t pounded, however, and sometimes the thick steak arrives dry from overcooking.

Choice is wonderful for families, but Olympia’s best dishes are pure Greek, including substantial broiled beef kabobs with bell peppers; tall, crisp, cinnamon-spiked baklava; and generous Greek salads with peperoncini, Kalamata olives and thick tomato wedges.

The Olympia Special version of the salad is a favorite among regulars, many of whom like it topped with shrimp sauteed in the restaurant’s “special seasoning.” Fans say if you don’t ask for the seasoning, you may not get it.

“That’s the big change I see since Olympia moved,” said one devotee, who suddenly cut her advice short. An old friend approached the table just as her favorite waitress walked by.

Cuisine: Greek, Italian and seafood
Location: 5629 Oleander Drive, in Bradley Square
Phone: 796-9636
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
We say: If you shun shops called ‘family restaurants,’ give Olympia a try. Service is friendly and the menu has something for everyone, including the adventurous Greek palate.

What’s On > Glory night in Limassol, Cyprus July 14, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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German rock band the Scorpions return to Cyprus, promising a night of classic numbers and new releases

“Take me to the magic of the moment on a glory night,” plead the Scorpions in what is perhaps their best-known song, ‘Wind of Change’. Now it’s our turn to ask. Can the Scorpions show us such a glory night?

Two years after gracing the stage in Nicosia, the legendary rock band returns to Cyprus. Word of their arrival has spread fast as teenagers take out their tight black t-shirts and prepare to scream in the crowded arena as they hail one of their favourite rock bands. The slightly older, teenage-at-heart crowd are similarly motivated by this German band that is still making waves after decades in the music industry and even took part in the opening ceremony of the World Cup.

Their Platinum album, consisting of their greatest hits, has been in the Cyprus charts for the past 17 weeks, hitting the number one spot. They have been praised by Rolling Stone Magazine as “heroes of classic rock”.

Like many youngsters born in post-war Germany, the band members’ musical careers were influenced by imported commercial delights, Elvis Presley, jeans, leather jackets, and most of all, rock and roll. In 1972, the Scorpions released their debut album, Lonesome Crow. The vocal and instrumental ingredients that were to develop into the typical, unmistakable Scorpions sound were already recognisable, most notably the uncompromising, guitar-orientated hard rock inspired by Jimmy Hendrix, Cream and Led Zeppelin.

Only a few years after the band was established, lead singer Klaus Maine declared his ambition: “one day the Scorpions will be one of the best heavy rock bands in the world!” Perhaps he had a secret recipe for success tucked up his sleeve, as it certainly didn’t take much for his wishes to materialise and the their first album paved the way for huge international success.

Throughout the 1970s and 80s, the Scorpions undertook tours of Europe, playing in countless venues and conquering one country after another. They soon went on to tour in Japan and the USA. When the Berlin wall fell, the Scorpions performed with Pink Floyd, sealing a greatly important moment in time with their songs and becoming themselves a part of history. “Our music has its share in a world which is pretty tough and we want to try and make people feel better with our songs,” says Klaus.

It was Klaus who composed their smash hit ‘Wind of Change’ in 1989, which had people singing their hearts away to lyrics that became world renowned. One hit followed another, and the Scorpions captured the hearts of hard rock fans around the globe. At the start of the new millennium, the band became involved in a collaboration with the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra. Together they released a CD in June 2000 aptly named Moment of Glory.

For the legendary Scorpions, the road continues as they intend to keep on going and performing until they can sing no more. “We love making trips around the world, we have been doing this for so many years and it’s always something nice because we can meet people and see so many new things,” said guitarist Matthias Jabs.

“For us to come back to Cyprus really means a lot to us. We have been working hard on our set because we know that many fans on the island like to listen to some ‘vintage’ Scorpions hits. They love to hear classic songs which we haven’t played for a long time that we made in the 70s and 80s,” Klaus says.

“Our song Holiday fits in perfectly with the Cyprus scene,” adds guitarist Rudolf Schenker. “It’s a great atmosphere with nice people, the crowd was truly fantastic last time we visited and we had a great time on stage”.

The rockers’ enthusiasm is really quite impressive for a band that began their music career over 30 years ago. On stage they promise to be an explosive force, letting out a teenage enthusiasm and indescribable dynamism. “We will give a lot of energy and power in our concert. It will be a full-on musical show… let’s just say we will definitely have a lot of fun rocking the night away,” says Klaus. These Scorpions really do have a sting in their collective tail.

Scorpions > German rock band live in concert. July 23. Tsirion Stadium, Limassol. Arena £20, benches £30. Tickets available from www.moonlightshow.com and www.InterTicket.com.cy. Tel: 77772939.

A rich week of live acts in Athens July 14, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Athens Festival, Music Life Live Gigs.
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This week promises to be an exciting one for music lovers, whether they are fans of jazz, blues, soul, classical or rock.

The program starts tomorrow and Wednesday, as the Herod Atticus Theater presents a legend of American jazz, Solomon Burke, who comes to the Greek capital straight from Philadelphia, together with the historical Blues Brothers band, to perform old favorites, such as “Cry to Me.”

On Wednesday, the Vrachon Theater in Vyronas is presenting another legend, this one of 1960s garage-rock. Iggy Pop, whose lust for life seems to remain unfaded, will perform with the Detroit-based Stooges, while supporting the rockers is Puressence, one of the most popular British pop acts in Greece.

On Thursday, romantics can enjoy an evening of jazz ballads at the Herod Atticus with Canadian crooner Diana Krall (the wife of Elvis Costello), with a guitar, bass and drums combo backing her. Krall’s high-end jazz blends the smooth, velvet sounds of rhythm ’n’ blues with softer notes of swing.

Also on Thursday, at the Karaiskaki Stadium in Neo Faliron, it’s a night with Archive, a band that may be considered rather new, but is in fact celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Countdown to Kalamata’s dance festival July 14, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Festivals, Ballet Dance Opera.
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Kalamata’s annual International event kicks off this Friday, July 14, and runs for nine days

We are all eagerly awaiting the beginning of this year’s International Dance Festival at Kalamata, one of the summer’s most prominent dance events.

The festival, which kicks off on Friday and will run to July 23, boasts the participation of 11 dance companies from nine different countries and 20 performances and celebrates its 12th anniversary this year. Shows have been scheduled to take place at the Castle Amphitheater, the Cultural Center and even the gym of the city’s former high school. In the meantime, seminars will once again be taking place at Kalamata’s National Stadium; they will be conducted by David Zambrano, who will perform as part of the festival.

Rich program > Opening its doors to new scenes, this year’s festival will welcome artists from Portugal and Austria, two countries which have had a sizzling dance scene for the past couple of years. The program also includes artists and groups from France, Belgium, South Africa, the Netherlands, Israel, Cyprus and Greece.

When talking about the Kalamata International Dance Festival, one should keep in mind that it is an institution which earned its place on the international dance scene through years of effort but has succeeded in becoming a major force outside the capital. A dozen years ago it started sowing the seeds of interest for the international dance scene at a time when the Greek scene lacked any such institutions. With the Greek dance scene currently much more prominent and featuring various larger or smaller festivals and events, Kalamata’s festival maintains a unique presence.

Under the highly skillful artistic direction of Vicky Marangopoulou, it continues to transmit to the Greek public all the various tendencies of modern dance, as clearly as possible, hoping to encourage dialogue between the audience and the artists but also the communication and exchange of ideas between the different artists.

Focusing on variety and on highlighting differences in dance according to geography and artistic creation, the festival’s program will feature all sorts of different performances which will reflect the vibrance and power of the dance scene.

The event will kick off with a performance choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” on Friday and Saturday. The renowned choreographer, who is also well known to the Greek public, will visit Kalamata with a group of extraordinary dancers and sets especially designed by award-winning artist Fabrice Hyber.

Up-and-coming choreographer Yasmeen Godder will present her high-quality performance “Two Playful Pink” on Saturday and Sunday, revealing another aspect of Israel’s dance scene which local dance fans are already familiar with. David Zambrano, who is of Venezuelan descent but has been a member of the Amsterdam dance community for years, has created the duet “Maza-Dama” for himself and Ermis Malkotsis from Greek dance company Sinequanon. Zambrano is also well known as a dance teacher and an imaginative choreographer regarding improvisations. The duet, inspired by soul music, will be staged on Saturday, Sunday and July 20. Via Katlehong will take the audience on a journey to South Africa, with rebellious dances against the Apartheid regime rooted in a tradition of the Zulu tribe. The performance, titled “Nkulukelo,” will take place on Sunday.

Next up are two choreographers who, despite their young age, are being distinguished in Europe: Greece’s Zoe Dimitriou, a London-based choreographer and researcher, will present her penetrating solo “Can You See Me?” along with Cyprus’s Alexandra Waierstall’s sensitive solo “Affect” in a single performance on July 17 and 19. Other than Zoe Dimitriou, Fotis Nikolaou is also part of this year’s performing young artists; he will present “Not Yet” with his company X-it on July 18.

Belgium will make its presence felt with Peeping Tom’s performance “Le Salon,” a hard show about decay and decadence, which will move and provoke but also initiate discussions on longstanding social issues. It will go on stage on July 20 and 21.

Portugal’s Sonia Baptista will do a special show with script, movement and videos, which will blend the aesthetics of the Far East and the West in a personal world full of feminine memories. Her show “Icebox Fly. Winter Kick,” which will be performed on July 21 and 22, will open up the Greek public to the Portuguese scene, which has taken over Europe with its originality and sensitivity.

Chris Haring’s performance “Kind of Heroes,” a game of identities between three shy characters, will reveal another experimental scene, that of Austria, on July 22 and 23. Finally, Emmanuel Gat will close the festival with a diptych of refreshing choreographies on landmark compositions for modern dance: Schubert’s four lieder “Winter Journey” and Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” The production will be staged on July 23.

For information > tel 27210 83086.

Preparations underway for Cyprus Rally July 14, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Racing & Motors.
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With the countdown to September’s WRC Cyprus Rally now well underway, measures are already in place to ensure that this year’s event is better than ever.

Renowned rally, route expert Antonis HadjiMichalis, Route Manager of Greece’s Acropolis Rally, recently spent ten days on the island assessing the island’s world-renowned stages. The mountain tracks to be tackled by the world’s top drivers in September have already been graded by the Cyprus Forestry Department and the organizers have confirmed that HadjiMichalis will return to the island again in late August to oversee the final preparation of the route.

The Cyprus Rally has a well founded reputation for challenging drivers and their cars like no other even on the World Rally Championship calendar, and the organizers are determined that this year’s test of endurance will be as enjoyable as possible for competitors and spectators alike.

Scheduled for 21st-24th September 2006, this year’s Cyprus Rally promises to be another exciting test of man and machine under the warm Mediterranean sunshine. 

And this year the event promises something all-new, when the glamour of F1’s Monaco Grand Prix comes to Limassol with the first ever Down Town Special (DTS) promising thrills and excitement unparalleled in the World Rally Championship calendar. Held over a 3-hour period, including sideshow events and entertainment, the DTS promises to be a spectacular finale to this year’s Cyprus rally. The event will be broadcast live to more than 100 million viewers worldwide.

Cyprus’ anti cyber crime seminar July 14, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web, Shows & Conferences.
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Larnaca, in Cyprus, played host to the latest in a series of Europe-wide ‘cyber security’ summits.

Intended for key IT specialists, the summits cover enterprise security strategies devised by the New York-based International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultant (EC-Council), the international organisation driving standards and skills for e-Commerce Consultants, and its master distributors throughout Europe, the specialist cyber crime fighters, SSR-i.

The event in Cyprus was hosted by Computrain, which has become one of SSR-i’s partners in Europe to deliver the range of EC-Council courses for both IT professionals and computer users who need to know the basics of computer security.

The summit covered hacking, intellectual property theft, corporate espionage, security solutions, legal considerations, risks and mitigation strategies. There was also a live hacking session to showcase vulnerabilities often found in many systems.

“The event highlighted the risks and exposures that all organisations face with regard to unauthorised intrusions and theft on their business systems,” said George Thrasivoulou, of Computrain, Cyprus. “Not only offering an insight into the tools and methods used by unethical hackers (‘crackers’), the seminar explored when and why an organisation can become a victim – and explained the counter-measures available.”

Seminar delegates included representatives of CYTA, Cyprus University of Technology as well as Laiki Bank, Hellenic Bank and international organisations including KPMG.

“These seminars make delegates aware of the potential dangers to their systems’ security. They also provide the knowledge and skills that help to prevent security breaches or, if they occur, trace and then secure them,” said SSR-i’s Rajive Kapoor.

According to Sanjay Bavisi, president of the EC-Council, losses from cyber crime are increasing because of improvements in automation, increasing the speed of attacks; increasingly sophisticated attack tools, and the increasing permeability of firewalls, among other things. He stated: “Organisations’ greatest losses because of cyber crime, from such things as identity theft and computer-generated fraud, are now greater than those posed by systems being attacked by viruses or worms.”

For further information > http://www.SSR-i.com