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Beautiful music for a lyrical writer January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life Greek, Music Life Greek.
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Alexandros Papadiamantis’s work informs two new albums > one reverential, the other eclectic > Aliki Kayaloglou said she was moved by Papadiamantis’s empathy.

Even though Alexandros Papadiamantis’s writings are very lyrical, few of them have been combined with music into compositions.

To the chagrin of many of his admirers, the great Skiathos-born author has inspired only a handful of compositions written for film or theater adaptions of his work or some songs dedicated to him. But now, two recently released albums offer plenty of appreciation for Papadiamantis’s lyricism with language and emotion.

The album “Aliki Kayaloglou Reads and Sings Papadiamantis” (by Kinissis) includes extracts from five of Papadiamantis’s short stories, parts of which were set to music by conductor and composer Alkis Baltas. Kayaloglou is accompanied by a quintet of very skilled musicians.

Kayaloglou said Papadiamantis’s tenderness, understanding and tolerance of human weakness in his works moved her greatly. “Above all, he is consoling,” she said. “His words are soothing. Another thing I love about him is the way he describes nature and that in just one sentence of his you can find humor, sarcasm, political commentaries, emotions, everything. I have wanted to enter Papadiamantis’s world for a long time and I am happy it finally happened.”

The occasion came up when she was asked to participate in Patmos’s Religious Music Festival. After giving it a lot of thought, she decided on Papadiamantis, along with Baltas.

“The skillful language and the images that can be found in Papadiamantis’s short stories have an exceptional musical quality,” said Baltas. “There are many parts where the leading characters sing, whether they are in love, in a melancholy mood or even when taken by the beauty of nature… The composition tried to follow this unique mixture of secular and religious elements that we encounter in his writing.”

The Patmos premiere, which took place in front of a mixed audience, was a triumph. “The recording from that evening reflects a powerful energy, but I decided not to release it as it was,” she said. “I suddenly felt I needed more time to get in touch with Papadiamantis. So I started to study his work from the beginning.”

To that end, director Dimos Abdeliodis helped Kayaloglou tremendously. But she had trouble selling the work to record companies, she said.

“Since no company showed any interest, I decided to cover the costs of its release myself,” she said. “But I was saddened that nobody thought of inviting me to present it, only Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios. After Patmos’s success, he called me and I presented it in Constantinopole, but he was the only one. Still, it is something that made me move forward and I am very happy I did it.”

Compared to this reverential take by Kayaloglou, the second album inspired by the writer, “Alexandros Papadiamantis – To skoteino trigoni” (The Dark Turtle Dove) by MBI is a surprise.

This album contains songs that three young people from Ierapetra in Crete, mainly Nikos Mastorakis, wrote using the prose of Papadiamantis. The songs are interpreted by Socrates Malamas, Lizeta Kalimeri, Psarantonis, Niki Tsaireli, Niki Xylouri, Maria Koti, Manolis Liapatakis and Harilaos Papadakis.

This project had its roots in the theater. “Director Antonis Diamantis was staging Papadiamantis’s ‘Murderess’ with the Ierapetra Municipal Theater Company and he asked me to write the music,” said Mastorakis. “I then suggested to Manolis Liapatakis and Costas Pantazis to collaborate and that is how this thing, which ended up as an album, started.”

The director was the one who chose Papadiamantis’s lyrics for the songs. “I had never read any Papadiamantis,” said Mastorakis, “but the material felt very accessible, although it is in “katharevousa” (the Greek purified language). I liked it so much that in just one-and-a-half months I had written all the songs.”

The rehearsals and discussions with the director then helped shape the performance, he added. When Mastorakis set Papadiamantis’s work to music, he focused on its dark aspects. “What struck me was the multitude of images in the work,” he said. “When we went to Skiathos and played our final performance there I was shocked; it was as if we had written the music especially for that island. We visited the places mentioned by Papadiamantis and sang there.”

Also, he said, the record label did not pursue the well-known vocalists that appeared on the album. “It is our production, we did the recording and then sought a company,” Mastorakis said. “When Malamas, whom I like a lot, came to Ierapetra for a concert, I found the courage to go up to him because I wanted his opinion. He told me he would get back to me in a month and in just four days he called me up, congratulated me and said he wanted to participate. I went crazy. He said we should include a woman, which we did, then we got in touch with Psarantonis, whom we had wanted from the start, and he was enthusiastic. It took us almost two years, because we also had our jobs. We then looked for a record label. I thought it would be much harder. I was lucky.”


OTE cuts broadband rates January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Telecoms.
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OTE cuts broadband rates as rivals offer more services

Greece’s largest telecoms group OTE said yesterday it will cut rates for its fast Internet services as part of its plans to boost broadband usage in the country and increase profits. OTE will reduce its ADSL charges by between 5 and 7 percent as of February 1, marking a reduction of up to 67 percent in rates in the last three-and-a-half years, the company said in a statement.

OTE has also lowered its charges to mobile networks by 8 percent on average since Monday to boost phone usage.

The changes come as OTE, which has lost market share to competitors since Greece liberalized its telecoms sector in 2001, seeks to implement a wider plan to make it attractive to foreign investors.

One of OTE’s local competitors, Forthnet, is about to offer a new broadband service, also allowing its users to make unlimited free telephone calls without paying monthly charges to OTE. The company has delayed the provision of this service by a few weeks to ensure it reaches more areas than its competitors. Rival service providers Tellas and Vivodi have already announced the operation of such a service.

The main conditions for the supply of this service are the existence of the telecommunication infrastructure required and the agreement with OTE for the so-called joint installation and the “local loop unbundling,” which market officials estimate to be available for about 35 areas in Greece, mainly in Attica.

Forthnet’s investment plan comes up to 250 million euros, providing for the installation of a 160-kilometer fiberoptic network in Athens in the year’s first half.

Olympic site auctioned January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Athens 2004 Olympics.
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Only one bidder was able to satisfy Olympic Properties’ requirement that the canoe and kayak slalom course be preserved for sports purposes.

The consortium made up of construction companies J&P Avax, GEK, Vioter and Corfu Waterpark has been announced as the winning bidder for the commercial development of the former canoe and kayak slalom venue at the former Athens airport site at Hellenikon.

The winning consortium was the only remaining bidder after the bid from the Audio Visual – Allou Fun Park consortium was deemed “technically insufficient” by Olympic Properties SA, the company set up to manage the sites used for the Athens 2004 Olympics, with the exception of the main Olympic complex and the Peace and Friendship stadium’s indoor arena.

The winning consortium will lease the canoe and kayak site for 30 years, with the express undertaking, a request made by international sports authorities, to allow it to be used as a sports venue during certain periods each year.

The consortium’s original bid included a first-year rent of euro 3,120,000. Following negotiations with Olympic Properties, this was raised to 3.5 million. The rent is to increase each year, reaching 4,618,176 after the 15th year, in constant 2006 prices. The total amount to be paid to Olympic Properties is 129,799,594. The state will be relieved of maintenance costs that reached 2,629,614 last year.

With this bid, four former Olympic installations have been turned over to private developers and three more bids, for the beach volleyball and tae kwon do sites as well as the sailing center at Aghios Cosmas, are under way. The four concluded bids have secured for Olympic Properties, and, by extension, the state, revenues reaching 661,047,945. The annual rents will start from 14,360,000 and will reach 18,947,715, in constant 2006 prices in 15 years. The annual cost of maintenance for these sites totaled 9,215,037 last year.

Greeks using SMS Festive Holiday wishes January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture, Telecoms.
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Text messages were popular among well-wishers again this year with 82.6 million messages sent on the Vodafone network from December 24 to January 1.

During the same period, there were 45.9 million text messages sent by TIM Hellas customers, a rise of 17 percent from last year.

On New Year’s Day, 15.2 million messages were sent by Cosmote users, an annual increase of 13 percent.

That’s what I call Communication! 🙂

Suburban > More trains January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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Schedule for Proastiakos suburban railway extended as of today

The schedule of the Proastiakos suburban railway is being extended from today. The first train from Athens International Airport to Larissis Station will leave at 7.20 a.m., while the first train from Corinth to the airport will leave at 7.05 a.m. The last train from the airport will leave at 11.50 p.m.

The first train from Athens to the airport will depart at 05.57 a.m., while the train for Corinth will leave at 06.06 a.m. The last train from Athens to Corinth will depart at 10.06 p.m. and the final service to the airport from Larissis Station will leave at 11.06 p.m.

We take our national heroes seriously January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Politics.
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The following post is from the Blogger News Network and is very much related to our previous post entries concering Greece’s warning to FYROM for naming their Skopje airport as “Alexander the Great”, a Greek National Hero and a ancient heritage as well as legacy to modern Greeks. Our related posts can be read under the categories “News Greece” and “News World”. We also have posted Alexander’s The Great biography and links for those history-savvy of you, under category “Arts History Mythology”.

Readers will also notice that the author of this BNN’s article (which looks more like a comment to our opinion rather than an article) is linking to one of our earlier posts we mentioned above (dated december 30th, 2006).

The post from BNN carries same title as used above. How true! We take our National Heroes seriously, here in this part of the world, in Greece, the birthplace of Democracy and the Western Civilization!

“QUOTED” This post was written by trojan0505 on 3 January, 2007 (10:14) | All News

While the rest of Europe is going for cultural suicide by relativating themselves out of existence, no such thing it likely to happen soon to the Greeks. Last week the website of Hellenic Television reported that the Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyiannis had sent a “stark message to Skopje” with regard to the new name of Skopje Airport, “Alexander the Great”. She added ominously that “Moves bound to be misunderstood must be avoided”. This calls for a clarification. It is an uphill struggle, but let’s try the (very) abbreviated version.

A small Slavonic tribe, inhabiting a patch of land in the Balkans, have been trying to carve out a national identity ever since early Byzantine times when they first arrived on the European scene, together with a number of other Slavonic peoples. At first they were co-inhabiting an area of Greece, well-known for their native sons Philippos II and Alexander the Great, called Macedonia. The people as well as the patch they lived on, by curious twists of history moved to and fro between Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. It was once part of the Byzantine Empire, then of the Ottoman Empire after Constantinople was conquered by the Turks; later it became a constituting part of Yugoslavia.

Historians are writing about a concept long forgotten, something causing Brussels to break out in a rash, but at some stage in history not that long ago, of utmost importance: the national identity. The descendents of the little Slavonic tribe still do not have one, which is a bit crass after almost two millennia (give or take a century). They didn’t want to become Bulgarians and they certainly weren’t Serbs (being another tribe altogether), so they simply invented themselves an identity, trampling in the process on the Greek one. Hence Mrs Bakoyannis caveat: “Moves bound to be misunderstood must be avoided”. Having been lumbered with the official name FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) courtesy of the Greek government, Skopje must know Athens isn’t kidding either.

Those with empathy for historical figures that are known to have cried out in desperation “the Balkans, one damned thing after another” or “some damned thing in the Balkans” (the accounts vary), will be glad to know that Serbia is holding general elections on 21st January, after which the ultimate fate of Kosovo, what the Serbs consider their heartland, will be a hot topic again.

Whatever the outcome, consider yourselves under notice that national heroes are taken seriously in this part of the world. “UNQUOTED”

The link to BNN is > http://www.bloggernews.net/13523

The Spirit of Dubai airship crosses Athens’ landmarks January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Greece Athens, Greece News.
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Spirit of Dubai reaches Greece  Dubai airship crosses Athens’ landmarks

The Spirit of Dubai airship has reached its last major European destination on its landmark journey from London to Dubai by flying over some of Athens’ greatest landmarks.

The airship, whose journey is marking the first residents moving into The Palm Jumeirah, circled over some of history’s greatest monuments including the Acropolis, featuring the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Nike, as well as the Arch of Hadrian, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the 1896 Olympic Stadium, according to a senior official.

“Athens is a monumental point in our journey. It is the city where Western civilisation began and our journey now takes us to the oldest of all landmarks on our journey, The Pyramids,” said director of marketing, sales and customer service for Nakheel Manal Shaheen.

“Much has changed since Athens was built, although the drive to push boundaries and celebrate architecture remains the same thousands of years on.

“The leg from Italy to Greece, and then on to Egypt, is probably the most challenging of our 7,000km journey. We will have crossed four seas, the Adriatic, Ionian, Aegean and Mediterranean on this leg, and when crossing bodies of water there is no margin for error. It’s certainly challenging, but this embodies the pioneering spirit that has driven Dubai, the journey, and the creation of The Palm Jumeirah.”

After the visit to Athens, The Spirit of Dubai will continue its journey taking in the Pyramids of Cairo before arriving in Dubai later in January.