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Greek pianist’s recital celebrates our National Day March 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.

Pianist Alexandros Kapelis will make his Bay Area recital debut Tuesday in San Francisco as part of the Greek National Day, 25 March Greece’s Independence Day, Celebration.

alexandros_kapelis.jpg  Alexandros Kapelis’ life sounds about as close to an ancient Greek myth as one can get in the 21st century. At age 30, the dark-eyed, smolderingly handsome pianist, who looks a bit like a young Al Pacino in the first of the “Godfather” movies, will make his Bay Area recital debut at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco.

His recital, billed as “The Greek Myth and the Piano,” is one of several special events for Greek National Day, sponsored by the Greek Consulate General with support from the Department of Culture of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Gina Bachauer Memorial Foundation of Greece.

He took to his early piano lessons like a seaworthy ship takes to water. By the time he was in his teens, he had his first serious love affair: The object of his absorbing affection was none other than the great 18th-century German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach.

Tracing his background, he explained that his father was Greek and his mother Peruvian. His father, as a young man in Greece, developed a yen for travel and set off to see South America. While in Peru, he met and married Alexandros’ mother, and the two had three children. Alexandros is the youngest. His older sister is fluent in four languages and works as a translator for the French Ambassador in Peru. His older brother is head of Nike in South America.

The young family was subject to the father’s wanderlust, and when the elder Kapelis’ homesickness for Greece became unbearable, they all picked up and headed to papa’s homeland. This meant that the children had the advantage of growing up in two cultures. They formed new friends and Alexandros continued his piano study.

Besides intense study in Greece, he continued his studies in London and, eventually, at New York’s Mannes College of Music, where he was tutored by Diane Walsh and Julius Levine. He also has studied conducting with Bruno Aprea at the Accademia Internazionale delle Arti in Rome and Gianluigi Gelmetti at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena.

During the last few years, he has performed as soloist with the Prague Symphony Orchestra and Mexico’s Monterrey Symphony, and he recently made his debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. He also has debuted at Lincoln Center, the United Nations, London’s Cadogan Hall, the Salle Cortot in Paris, the Chicago Institute, the Musei Capitolini in Rome, the Athens Megaron and many other choice venues.

His main home is now New York City, where he enjoys yoga, bicycling, “all over NYC,” he says, horseback-riding, traveling and reading. In fact, he is a voracious reader.

He said that the genesis of his Greek myth-themed recital was a New York City exhibition of 86 paintings based on Homeric legends and Greek myths. He was asked to put together and perform a recital of piano works inspired by various Greek myths.

In the recital’s program notes, he writes, “Greek myth, with its superb philosophical explorations, has exercised an inescapable force on the creative minds in all eras. The visual arts and literature have been the most vulnerable to their universal appeal and transcendence, while opera, since its inception, has been dominated by the power of its heroic and tragic figures.”

His local debut program will begin with Muzio Clementi’s Op. 50 Sonata No. 3 in G minor, which was inspired by the ill-fated affair of the Trojan Prince Aeneas with Queen Dido of Crete. Clementi’s subtitle for the Sonata is “Dido Abandoned: Tragic Scene.”

Other programmed works will be Kalomiris’ “Sia ta Ellinopoula”; Debussy’s “Danseuses de Delphes” and “L’Isle Joyeuse” from his Preludes, Book I; Rameau’s “L’Entretien des Muses”; “Les Tourbillons”; and “Les Cyclopes”; Constantinidis’ “Eight Dances from the Greek Isles”; and a special bonus, Rachmaninoff’s glorious Op. 33 “Etudes-Tableaux.” 

The concert is at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. Tickets are $25 and $40, $15 for students. Call (415) 392-4400.

Related Links > http://www.kapelis.com

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