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Discoveries from Chaeronia at WFU exhibit January 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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Discoveries from early Greek community featured at WFU Anthropology exhibit

Wake Forest University’s Museum of Anthropology will open “Chaeronia 6000 Years BC,” an exhibit highlighting the University of Colorado Museum’s archaeological findings from the site of an early Greek community February 6.  The exhibit will run through May 25.

Chaeronia (pronounced “hair-o-ne-a”) was a simple Greek community that once thrived on the banks of the Kiphisos River. In 338 BC, Chaeronia became the site where Phillip of Macedon defeated an alliance of Greek city states. Later, it was known as the birthplace of the famous writer Plutarch.

Recently, a University of Colorado team conducted a systematic excavation of the village ruins and found evidence revealing the evolution of this once hunting-and-gathering community into an agricultural village economy. The exhibit, which includes photographs, illustrations, replicas of ceramic figures and vessels, clay toys and models, stone and bone tools and other objects, illustrates how shifts in food procurement methods can launch dramatic changes in culture.  

The Museum of Anthropology is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.  Admission is free. For more information, call (336) 758-5282 or visit www.wfu.edu/moa.


NY’s Greek Community mourns loss January 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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Generations of Greek Americans in Central New York lost a mentor Thursday. Father Michael Harmand was the first American born Greek Orthodox priest in The United States.

Father Harmand came to Syracuse in 1951 and built Saint Sophia’s Church in DeWitt from a small group of immigrants into a congregation of more than 500 families. He is remembered as the father of the Greek community in Central New York.

Father Tom Zaferes is the current priest at St. Sophia’s, he said, “Father Michael was jokingly called the ‘Energizer Bunny,’ because he has so much energy and zest for life. He was a renaissance man and he was a role model for thousands of us.”

Father Harmand died after a short illness, he was 93. Funeral arrangements are to be announced.

Greek language class for the army January 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Learn To Speak Greek.
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Opening of Greek language class in “Ilinden” army barracks

A celebration on the occasion of opening a Greek language class will be held on Tuesday in army barracks “Ilinden” in Skopje.

As announced by the Ministry of Defence, the celebration will be addressed by FYROM’s Defence Minister Lazar Elenovski and Greek Ambassador to FYROM, Theodora Grosomanidou.

The opening of the class will be also attended by the Foreign Minister Antonio Miloshoski, Chief of FYROM’s Army Staff Miroslav Stojanovski, as well as accredited military attachés to FYROM.

The Stuffed Grape Leaf January 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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Don’t come to The Stuffed Grape Leaf to dance on the table. Or watch belly dancers gyrate. There’s no smashing of plates or pouring ouzo down your throat. The most dramatic event at the Fort Lauderdale restaurant on a recent Saturday night was the smoke detector going off each time the waiter lit the saganaki (flaming cheese), prompting a chorus of “Opa!”

But there are plenty of compelling reasons to visit this charming new Greek restaurant, most of all the wonderful food and cozy atmosphere. Owner Konstantinos Varsamis, born in Greece, raised in Montreal, has transformed this small nook, former home of popular Victoria Park restaurant, into an inviting estiatorio.

The walls are a thick white stucco, decorated with lovely reliefs. For fun, there’s one yellow or red chair, the rest are blue, at each of the 11 tables, with two more outside. Candlelight adds a touch of romance, but we’re seduced by the homey aromas of simmering garlic, oregano and rosemary and by the Greek hospitality.

Varsamis, who for years worked as a dishwasher and waiter, calls his eight-week-old restaurant ”a love affair.” Relationships should be this committed. He’s growing herbs and tomatoes just outside the door and is thrilled that his dad brought him bags of fresh oregano from Greece. Want a special dish prepared? Just call ahead, he urges patrons.

Varsamis says the menu is evolving, the goal more modern, higher-end Greek fare, but ”there’s no escaping grandma’s kitchen.” So you will find classics like spinach pie, souvlaki and lamp chops, and for starters, a delicious, complimentary hummus served with grilled, sliced bread drizzled with olive oil. The extensive appetizer list features other homemade spreads including the yogurt-based tzatziki or taramosalata, made with carp roe.

One of our favorite dishes here is the cool, crisp Greek salad or horiatiki, big enough to share. The traditional salad, made without lettuce, is a colorful array of sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, Kalamata and throubes (wrinkled black olives) and red and green bell peppers dressed in a light vinaigrette with a dash of oregano, topped with a slab of ultra creamy Dodoni feta cheece.

We risked the smoke-detector blast and enjoyed the drama of the delicious flaming saganaki, the fire extinguished with a spritz of lemon. On an earlier visit, we liked the succulent mussels sautéed in a roasted red pepper sauce with a hint of ouzo, though a few of the shells were closed. We had to try the signature stuffed grape leaves, and these are quite good, packed with rice, ground beef and lamb spiked with dill and mint, topped with a creamy egg-lemon sauce.

The Greeks rule when it comes to lamb, and there are two fine choices here. An entree of roasted lamb is pretty hearty fare. The lamb shoulder and ribs are slowly cooked with wine and herbs, potatoes and carrots, and served, bones and all, in a pastry shell. If that’s too rustic, go for the juicy, grilled lamb chops, with a side of lemon potatoes,  a very good dish, though pricey.

Entrees include pork, steak and a delicious chicken souvlaki, the tender chunks of meat pulled off the skewer with peppers and onions, served with a fluffy rice pilaf. One of the more interesting sides: ”giant” (gigantes) lima beans braised in a garlicky tomato sauce, a fun sidekick to a simple baked grouper. Wild salmon is another sea-worthy dish, moist and nicely grilled.

Go beyond retsina and try one of the 20 moderately priced Greek wines along with 30 other choices. Your waiter can make a suggestion. As for service, it was well-paced a few weeks ago, but slowed down a bit Saturday night as the place filled up and only two servers handled the dining room.

For dessert, a housemade galatoboureko, phyllo wrapped around custard, is just so-so, but the baklava is rich with honey and walnuts. Add a cup of potent Greek coffee, made here in a Hovoli machine, which uses sand to heat the brew more evenly, another tradition Varsamis wants to keep.

The Stuffed Grape Leaf, 900 NE 20th Ave., Fort Lauderdale, Phone 954-764-6868

Bare-chested swans to grace Athenian stage January 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.
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Not for purists > Matthew Bourne’s cutting-edge ‘Swan Lake’ coming to Badminton Theater in Athens

‘The idea of a male swan makes complete sense to me. The strength, the beauty, the enormous wingspan of these creatures suggests to me the musculature of a male dancer more readily than a ballerina in her white tutu,’ wrote Matthew Bourne on the official website for ‘Swan Lake,’ explaining why he chose to present an all-male cast.

It might be men in tights, but it’s also a smash hit around the world. Matthew Bourne’s provocative, all-male “Swan Lake” has gone from London’s esteemed Sadler’s Wells Theater in London in 1995 to enjoy successful tours in the UK, the USA, Europe and Japan. “Swan Lake” has become the longest-running ballet in London’s West End and on Broadway.

On January 31, the curtain on the avant-garde ballet will go up in Greece, at the capital’s new and improved Badminton Theater in Goudi for a run of shows until February 11.

Based on the original classic by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and also using his score, this witty production has been designed to speak to a modern audience.

“I could see an opportunity to create a human story, with the potential for great dramatic power and range, to indulge my satirical and humorous leanings as well as to create whole suites of abstract movement to some of the best dance music ever written. Irresistible!” says the director-choreographer on the production’s official website.

As far as the all-male cast is concerned, Bourne states: “The idea of a male swan makes complete sense to me. The strength, the beauty, the enormous wingspan of these creatures suggests to me the musculature of a male dancer more readily than a ballerina in her white tutu.”

Though an Odette-Odile with a bare chest and an Adam’s apple may seem a bit of a stretch for ballet purists, the production has impressed critics the world over and gained its fair share of awards too. Among these are three Tony Awards for best director, Matthew Bourne’s is the first British director to receive this accolade, best choreographer and best musical.

The production also won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award in 1997 as well as awards from the Society of West End Theaters’ Olivier Award and Time Out Dance in 1996, among others. The extravagant, imaginative stage design by Lez Brotherston has also been awarded.

Judith Mackrell wrote in The Guardian in September 1996: “This ‘Swan Lake’ is a blissfully comic, fiercely moving piece of theater that should convert even the grouchiest dance phobe into a fan.”

And Lewis Segal, The Los Angeles Times’ dance critic, also wrote, “Showing us a boy’s nightmare of a swan in human form, and his mother’s unfeeling response, Bourne’s prologue emphasizes the feverish dread in the score and takes us deeply into the world of the key characters. By the time they reappear in that same bedroom at the very end, those characters and that score have served an untamed Romantic vision that may be Bourne’s greatest gift to contemporary dance.” (April 28, 1997)

The principal characters are performed alternately by: Thomas Whitehead and Alan Vincent (The Swan), Matthew Hart and Simon Williams (The Prince), and Saranne Curtin and Nina Goldman (The Queen).

Tickets for performances are priced from 30 to 100 euros and are available from www.ticketnet.gr, or at Virgin Megastores. For additional information call 210 8840600 or log into http://www.ticketnet.gr/swan.html

For a video preview log into > http://www.ticketnet.gr/swanvideo.wmv
For worldwide tours log into > http://www.swanlaketour.com 

Ernst Ziller > The German who beautified Athens January 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Books Life Greek.
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Ernst Ziller > The German who beautified Athens and whose legacy continues to inspire today > New album reveals unknown aspects of life and work of the architect who designed more than 500 buildings

ernstziller1new.jpg  ernstziller2.jpg 

ernstziller3.jpg  ernstziller4.jpg  Architectural heritage. From far left: The interior of the Stathatos Mansion on the corner of Vassilissis Sofias Avenue and Irodotou Street; the Vassilis Melas Mansion, built in 1847 to accommodate wealthy Greeks from abroad and their entourages when they visited Athens, bounded by Karatinou, Ailou, Sophocleous and Streit streets; imposing marble staircase in the Presidential Palace. Ernst Ziller and his wife Sofia Dodou, photographed at home, at 4 Mavromichali Street (Photos: P. Moraitis).

The Ilion Melathron, one of the most costly and luxurious houses of old Athens, is barely visible these days for the protective screens that engulf it. When the time comes to unveil the building, now home to the Numismatic Museum, it will be our first chance to see it exactly as Ernst Ziller designed it for his friend Heinrich Schliemann.

By the standards of 1820s Athens, the Ilion Melathron was an extraordinary private residence in the heart of the city on Panepistimiou Street. Painted gold, red and blue, it was a vision, a flamboyant palace, the like of which Athenians had never seen. Crowned with pairs of clay statues, with two enclosed arched balconies, painted inside and out and from end to end, and surrounded by a garden of statues, it was the epitome of the Ziller style.

In this case, the architect had designed it for a rich philhellene who loved antiquity but, depending on the budget, he was capable of producing designs for a charming farmhouse or an imposing theater or church. He had his own style, that Saxon who took root in Greece. From the green, shady purlieus of Dresden, by way of Imperial Vienna, Ziller came to make his home in dusty Athens which, year by year, was improving and developing into an attractive place with its own style.

Ziller filled the urban landscape of Athens, Piraeus and many others cities with more than 500 buildings.

His name is well known yet it is likely that few know exactly which buildings he designed. Moreover, we are still finding out more about him: Archives come to light, data is cross-checked, buildings are identified. The research goes on.

A new book from Melissa, “Ernst Ziller 1837-1923: I techni tou clasikou” (The Art of the Classical) is the basic introduction to the world of Ziller. It is a spectacular, lavishly illustrated collection and a revaluation written by Maro Ardamitsi-Adami, one of the leading architects writing about Athens who has made a special study of Ziller.

Ziller grew up in Radebeul, a suburb of Dresden, where a street has been named after him. Ardamitsi-Adami visited the area to absorb the atmosphere of the place and culture in which the architect “who built half of Athens” was reared.

He was the son of the architect Christian Gottlieb and the grandson of building contractor Johann Christian. His three brothers, Moritz, Gustav and Paul also became architects. The first two ran the Ziller architects’ office in their hometown, with their own quarry and steam-operated timber mill. Ernst used to visit them whenever he left Athens for a while, and Paul stayed with him for a time in Greece.

Ziller had the opportunity to go to Tiflis in 1859 where he had won a competition run by the Russian government or to start work in Germany, but he received a letter from Theophilus Hansen, a Danish architect with a large business in Vienna, who was close friends with Baron Sina, who explained that he had secured the plot of land of the Athens Academy.

It was Hansen who brought out Ziller’s talent, offering him opportunities, inspiration and work. In the mid-19th century, Greece must have seemed to Ziller like an insignificant realm at the very edge of Europe. We follow him at the age of 22, as he traveled with his brother Moritz to Prague on the way to Vienna, excited by the remarkable architectural monuments. Hansen had been in Vienna since 1846 and had opened an architectural studio there. He had just returned from Greece, where he had been with his brother Christian. Ziller began working there in an environment in which the aura of Greece was present like a distant echo, and laid the foundations for a new life. The plans for the Academy, which he worked on for years in Vienna, would take him to Greece, initially in 1859 and permanently in 1868.

Ziller oversaw the work of the Academy but gradually set up his own studio. He was a man who was interested in everything, who loved learning, and who trusted his own judgment, with daring and vision. He traveled to Greece, whose border at that time was just north of Lamia, sketching and observing. He loved archaeology and conducted excavations. His finds and the discovery of the ancient Panathenaic Stadium made him famous and won him the friendship of King George I.

We don’t know why Ziller settled in Athens, though he had married Sofia Doudou, whom he met in Vienna, a piano soloist, and they had five children. Living conditions were not easy in Greece at the time. Travel was arduous until at least the end of the 19th century, when the administrations of Prime Minister Harilaos Trikoupis embarked on modernization projects.

At a time of rapid change, Ziller embodied the architectural expression of the new middle class. His clientele grew, reaching a peak in the 1880s and 90s. It was then that he designed major projects such as the Royal (now National) Theater, the Melas Mansion, the Stathatos Mansion, the Successor’s Palace (now the Presidential Palace), the Municipal Theater, Ermoupolis City Hall and numerous other buildings throughout Greece.

He built the Ziller residence in Kastella, of which almost all the neoclassical belvedere overlooking the Saronic Gulf has been demolished, villas in Kifissia, mansions, offices and the first large apartment block. Ziller designed a new landscape for Athens. His house still stands on Mavromichali Street, near Academias Street. He sold it for 150,000 drachmas to the art-loving banker-collector Dionysios Loverdos when an inopportune business deal ruined him in 1900. His family learned to live on less after that and Ziller opened another studio on the corner of Kanaris and Solonos streets, where he found himself the butt of the anti-German sentiments of the Athenians in the years leading up to WWI. He worked unceasingly till the very end, in 1923.

As well as being an architect, Ziller was also an exceptional engineer and builder who created an army of tradesmen and a whole world of workshops that supplied builders all over Greece with clay statues, painted borders, railings and friezes for houses and public buildings.

Beautiful photographs by Giorgis Gerolymbas and the knowledge of Ardamitsi-Adami show how a German born in 1837 lives on among us in the streets of contemporary Athens.

Asclepius’ symbol January 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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What is the origin and meaning of the caduceus, the winged staff and entwined snakes that is the symbol of the medical profession?

It is not the caduceus, but the staff of Asclepius that is the symbol of the Medical Association and many other professional medical groups.

For many years, the staff of Asclepius has been confused with the caduceus, a symbol that generally features two snakes encircling a rod topped with wings. According to mythology, the caduceus represents the wand of the Greek god Hermes and is associated with commercial endeavors.

The single snake of the staff of Asclepius is a symbol dating to antiquity, and represents its namesake, the Greek god of healing.

In the biblical book Exodus, Moses is told to erect a brass pole with a serpent. Whoever looked upon it was healed.