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Historic jazz greats in Paphos September 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Music Life Live Gigs.
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Two classic jazz greats will be in Cyprus this week for a concert in Paphos

It’s not often Cyprus welcomes a trumpeter who has hit the top of the British and American music charts and sold more than a million albums worldwide in addition to a clarinet-playing MBE holder and Honorary Master of Arts. Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk, both celebrating more than 50 years in the music business, and their jazz bands, will be performing for one night only at the Coral Beach Hotel this Friday.

Essex-born Kenny, on his first visit to Cyprus, says he “took up the trumpet to attract the crumpet”, forming his own jazz band in 1958, and hitting the jackpot on both sides of the Atlantic with ‘Midnight in Moscow’ followed by ‘Samantha’ and ‘When I’m 64’. Now, with 20 albums behind him, he and his band still average 150 concerts a year.

Probably the greatest test of an artist’s success is his durability. Kenny is now a genuine institution and the most successful jazz trumpet player this side of the Atlantic. His landmark recordings in the 1960s catapulted him to worldwide fame and since then he has become a living legend. His autobiography is told with all the style, wit and passion that has characterised his life. It includes wonderful stories of his life on the road with such giants of the music world as Louis Armstrong.

Today, with his wife Michelle and a member of that original band, John Bennett, trombone, still on board, Kenny is a very content man who still produces great jazz!

Somerset-born Acker, married to childhood sweetheart Jean, has visited Cyprus several times, playing for the forces. In 2001 he was awarded the MBE for services to the music industry. Like Kenny, he is a ‘larger than life’ character with a great sense of humour. He hails from Pensford in Somerset, where he earned the nickname ‘Acker’ which is Somerset slang for ‘friend’.

He did not start playing the clarinet until 1948, after working in a tobacco factory in Bristol and having a go at boxing. While serving in the Suez Canal Zone with the Royal Engineers he borrowed a military clarinet and practiced, practiced, practiced! When he was a kid he lost two front teeth in a brawl and half a finger in a sledging accident, he credits these for producing his distinct sound on the clarinet!

After being de-mobbed, Acker Bilk moved to London and formed the Paramount Jazz Band in1951. Their first big break was a six-week contract to play in a beer bar in Dusseldorf, Germany and on its return to the UK in 1961, the band recorded ‘Stranger on the Shore’, the first record ever to go to the No 1 slot simultaneously in both the American and British charts.

There have been many other successes over the years and he still regularly goes on tour, which he combines successfully with a love of painting. He and Kenny Ball have regularly appeared ‘Back to Back’ in concerts over the past two years and each one has been a sell out.

These two great jazz men are still very much in demand and it has taken Tony Willmett of Carpe Diem Promotions three years to bring them both to Cyprus, an extra special treat for jazz lovers as Acker Bilk rarely travels far afield as he hates flying.

Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk > Jazz concert to be opened by Paphos–based trio Da Capo. Friday, September 21, Coral Beach Hotel, Paphos. 8pm. £20. For tickets call 26 881000. Tickets are also obtainable from Leptos Kamares Club, Paphos, Hearn’s Bookshop, Gina’s Place, Oliver’s Deli, Moufflon Bookshop, Paphos and SWBA Hives. Pre-show buffet dinner at 7pm £14 per person.

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The Complete Beatles recreate the swinging sixties September 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Stage & Theater.
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The Complete Beatles, one of the UK’s best know fab four tribute bands, will headline a one-off concert to help the fight against drugs

Some of us are forever talking about things that need to change in the society we live in. Herein lies the basic problem: more often than not, we spend so much time chatting about things that bother us, that we forget we can only actually instigate positive change through inspired action.

One of the problems that so often become the focus of attention in adult conversation is teenage drug use and all its resulting dangers. If, however, you spend your time wishing that your children could venture out to a party or club in a safe environment, it will remain nothing more than a wish. Cyprus may be considered a safe country compared to its European counterparts, but if we keep pushing certain serious issues under the carpet, they will only get worse.

One woman who has taken up the issue and is adamant when it comes to facilitating change is Janice Ruffle. In an attempt to combat the increase in drug trafficking and abuse island wide, Janice launched a Drug Awareness-Zero Tolerance campaign last year. The campaign has now culminated in a ‘Party on the Pitch’ concert to take place at Kiniras Sports Centre in Yeroskipou, Paphos on September 29.

If you’re a Beatles fan, you’ll be delighted to hear that The Complete Beatles will be jetting in from the UK especially for the event. Other acts will include Andrew Oliver as Elton John, as well as performances by Judith Evans and John Edwards.

As a concert with a special mission, Janice explains that she began her campaign when she realised the extent to which the drug problem was worsening here on the island. “We need to make youngsters more aware of the dangers of drugs and far more educational programmes need to be implemented that outline the harsh realities,” Janice says.

Part of Janice’s drug awareness campaign, currently in progress, is to form a Paphos-based victim and family support group with professional qualified counsellors. “We also want to establish a 24-hour help line for the victims and their families,” she says. The upcoming concert will hopefully pave the way for even more events and campaigns that touch on these sensitive issues. “It shouldn’t be a taboo,” Janice adds, “problems when it comes to drugs need to be out in the open and confronted.” Stands promoting drug awareness with educational directives will be on site at the concert, with informative leaflets in both English and Greek available.

When it comes to entertaining the crowds, The Complete Beatles will transport the audience back to the Swinging Sixties, creating the ultimate feel good factor. Their reputation and professionalism puts them in constant demand, and they are arguably one of the UK’s biggest Beatles tribute bands today as they constantly travel up and down the country to give shows to packed houses. They have performed with Gerry and the Pacemakers in the critically acclaimed theatre show, Back to the Cavern, and have also supported The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Merseybeats, Hermans Hermits and The Fourmost. With the famous Beatles humour, ‘mop top’ hairstyles, authentic period costumes and vintage instruments, their performance in Cyprus should really be one to remember.

But let’s not forget the other performers that will be gracing the stage. While The Complete Beatles will have you humming away to hits from days gone by, Andrew Oliver will be wowing crowds with favourite Elton John songs. From ‘Candle in the Wind’ to ‘I’m Still Standing’ and ‘Crocodile Rock’. It’s bound to be a spectacular performance by the man who received rave reviews in the past when he performed in the UK. In a stunning portrayal of the star, Andrew fully involves the audience with lots of singing, clapping and humour. What’s more, he wears rather outrageous costumes formally owned by Elton himself, including the flashy glasses and trademark earring. Judith Evans and John Edwards will be adding to the spectacle, with their voices transporting you into a magical world.

Party on the Pitch > Open-air live entertainment show with The Complete Beatles from the UK, Andrew Oliver, Judith Evans and John Edwards. All in support of a special ‘Drug Awareness- Zero Tolerance’ campaign. September 29. Kiniras Sports Centre, Yeroskipou, Paphos. 2pm until late. Pre-sale tickets, adults £8, children up to 12 yrs £4. Tel: 96 340777 and 99 066276.

A short story finds new life as a film September 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life Greek, Movies Life Greek.
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An autobiographical short story from Nikos Papandreou’s book “Deka mythoi kai mia istoria” (Ten Myths and a Story) is now a film.

The book was first published in 1995 by Kastaniotis and is now in its 51st edition. It has been translated into English and German.

Director Olga Malea’s film “Proti fora nonos” (First Time Godfather) is based on the story “Oi Agioi Pantes” (All Saints), where the California-born eldest son of a political family goes to Crete to act as godfather to the child of a local party cadre and aspiring parliamentary deputy. He becomes a godfather for the first time to show everyone, above all his father, that he is a worthy son. His foreign appearance and shaky Greek, the local customs and the trials he undergoes to prove himself all make for a tragicomic scenes with a political dimension and existential angst.

The film, starring Antonis Kafetzopoulos, Eleni Katsani, Tex Pardue and Giorgos Kimoulis, premieres October 4.

Video art exhibition on ‘Her(his)story’ September 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
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Curated by Marina Fokidis at the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens 

History, as shaped through subjective eyes and personal stories rather than an objective, scientific perspective, is the chief concept behind “Her(his)story,” a contemporary video art exhibition which opened in early summer at the Museum of Cycladic Art. The second part of the exhibition, which was recently inaugurated, continues this same idea as expounded upon by curator Marina Fokidis. The nine new works presented in the Museum’s new wing are mostly recent works made by established international and Greek artists.

One of the works closest to the exhibition’s concept is “Land” by Stefanos Tsivopoulos. The video shows men moving with no sense of purpose and direction amid an arid landscape. They are lost and trapped in this no man’s land. A feeling of uneasiness and confusion suggests the absence of a center, that reality is fragmented and subjective. The work also contains allusions to ethnic borders and identities. Visually, Paul Chan’s “5th light” is one of the most unusual pieces included. Shadows of objects rendered through digital animation move across the floor. A fairy-tale-like, innocent sensation is mixed with eeriness and a sense of danger.

Another engaging work is Doug Aitken’s “Electric Dance,” which in 1999 was awarded by the 48th Venice Biennale. The work, which shows a young African American wandering at night through an American metropolis, evokes the state of estrangement that is a part of contemporary life. Gender roles and disguise are the concepts behind the work of Lina Theodorou. Marina Gioti’s work speaks of the impact of advertising and an American lifestyle on our collective unconsciousness.

Seth Price’s video is an imaginative, paradoxical succession of images made of dreamlike, strange landscapes, news clips and humorous animation of animals cast in the role of humans. One of the darkest works in the exhibition is Darren Almond’s two-faced video installation. An intentionally vague story features mine workers in Kazakhstan. Repetitive images of a foot crushing a Coke can is presented in Adel Abdessemed’s work.

Also included, is Bruce Nauman’s “Art Makeup” from the late 1960s. This well-known work in which the artist is seen covering his body with makeup is the documentation of one of Nauman’s conceptual performances. Its inclusion in the Athens exhibition underlines the curatorial position and the focus on personal narratives.

Her(his)tory at the Museum of Cycladic Art, 4 Neophytou Douka Street, Athens, tel 210 7228321. To September 29.

Related Links > http://www.cycladic-m.gr

An emblematic apartment block falling into decay September 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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Designed postwar by Takis Zenetos, now suffering neglect

emblematic_apartment.jpg  Corner of Amalias Avenue and Daidalou Street, Athens. The 1959 apartment block designed by Takis Zenetos in collaboration with Margariti Apostolidi.

In 1960, when the apartment block on the corner of Amalias Avenue and Daidalou Street was completed, it was an innovation, with its chessboard-like facade and the glass sunscreens at the front of the balconies. Viewed from the outside today, however, all that gloss of a new era has dimmed.

The now dilapidated-looking building was the brainchild of Takis Zenetos, in collaboration with Margariti Apostolidi, with whom he had worked on the Fix factory on Syngrou Avenue. Some renovation work has been done but only to the first floor, and there is no indication whether there is any intention of returning to the original spirit of Zenetos’s design.

Meanwhile, the block looks like it is falling to pieces. “Most of the sunscreens on the facade were removed long ago, and unlicensed alterations have been made to the ground floor and elsewhere,” said architect Panayiotis Tsakopoulos.

The dilapidated state of the apartment block, which offers a fine example of what lighting can do to create atmosphere at night, in downtown Athens reveals how many basic steps remain to be taken to save certain emblematic Greek modernist buildings that are capable of holding their own on the international stage.

It comes as no surprise: Postwar architecture in Athens has been decried and amid the anonymous mass of commercial architecture many notable buildings from the 1950s and later are being spoiled instead of leaving their mark on the historical map of the capital.

But the location of the apartment block, right on a prestigious avenue opposite the National Gardens and close to Parliament, demands better treatment. Besides, all of Amalias Avenue and its many interesting buildings are worth an architectural stroll.

The new office building for Parliament, designed by Stefanos Kalligas, in the square of the Russian Church, painted in warm ocher and terracotta, opposite the Bodosaki Mansion, is a starting point. Then there is the Amalia Hotel, also a late 50s building, designed by Nikos Valsamakis, and recently renovated by Alexandros Samaras, and the Mavromichali Mansion, a mid-19th century neoclassical structure housing the European Parliament’s offices in Greece. Along the same architectural front are also a building by Alexandros Tombazis, modernist 1960s apartment blocks and St Paul’s Anglican Church, an ensemble in which the Zenetos building should shine.

Big, fat, Greek dancing September 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Greek dancers will be featured at Our Big Fat Greek Festival > Troupe takes Q-C back to traditional dance

They aren’t disco. They aren’t hip-hop. But the Hellas Dance Troupe sure knows how to move. The outfit from Skokie, Ill., is back in the Quad-Cities again, performing at St. George Greek Orthodox Church’s Our Big Fat Greek Festival for the third year in a row this weekend.

Established in 1997 by Tom Papadopoulos to continue the Hellenic tradition of dances that have been passed down from generation to generation, the troupe performs dances from mainland Greece, the Greek islands, Asia Minor, Pontos and Cyprus. The assistant dance instructor is Aliks Markovic. “We have about 20 members aged 14 to 35,” Mr. Papadopoulos said. “We practice from 5 to 7 p.m. every Saturday that we are not performing.”

The dancers are educated on the history behind the dances, the history of the costumes, and their meanings in relation to Greek culture with an emphasis on Macedonian dance and folklore. Their costumes are made in Greece, and the cost of this authenticity is met by charging the dancers an initial fee of $50 followed by $25 a year.

They enjoy road trips throughout the year and have performed at Pan-Macedonian youth conferences in Houston, Philadelphia, Boston, Greece and Canada. Recently they danced at the Taste of Greece Festival in Chicago’s Greek town, and Mr. Papadopoulos said, “It was three city blocks of action. We’re busy in the summer because of so many church festivals. “We are proud to have performed at Mayor Daley’s Greek Independence Day Reception and to have marched as the honorary guard in the Greek-American parade from 1998-2007.”

Although the troupe is open to people from all ethnic backgrounds, recruiting is focused on youth living in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Mr. Papadopoulus started Greek dancing when he was in grade school and eventually joined a professional troupe. The Macedonian Society asked him to start the dance troupe there 10 years ago.

At festival here they’ll do several sets of island dances and one or two from each of the Aegean, Ionian and Cretan regions.

What: Our Big Fat Greek Festival.
When: 4-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, this weekend.
Where: St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 2930 31st Ave., Rock Island.
Cost: $3, free for ages 12 and younger. More info: (309) 786-8163.

Greece may return to World League September 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Baseball Handball Volleyball.
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The Greek National volleyball team is probably on its way back to the World League, the competition the world’s top national sides take part in every summer, after two years in the wilderness of the European League.

Ruben Acosta, the head of the FIVB (Federation Internationale de Volleyball), the game’s global authority, said that Greece is one of the countries to have expressed an interest in participating in this top competition, after missing out in 2006 on commercial criteria.

The Greek federation (EOPE) obviously believes it can now secure television coverage, sponsors and full stands in home matches, which are the criteria it had failed to satisfy two years ago.

Meanwhile, A1 side EA Patras has confirmed the signing of Greek internationals Apostolos Armenakis (27 years old, opposite) and Nikolaos Karaghiozis (19 years old, outside hitter).