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Austrian Artists Exhibition at the Athens Concert Hall October 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Classical.
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Opens Tonight > An exhibition of works by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka will go on display at the Athens Concert Hall tonight, alongside works by other prominent contemporaries. Most of the works are on loan from Vienna’s Leopold Museum. The exhibition will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Sundays and will run to December 30.

Opens Tonight, also Thursday, Saturday and October 29 > Alexander von Zemlinsky’s one-act opera “Der Zwerg” and Arnold Schoenberg’s dramatic monologue for a soprano “Erwartung” are both directed by Eike Grams, with sets and costumes designed by Gottfried Pilz. “Der Zwerg” features vocalists Marlis Petersen, Mata Katsouli, Boiko Zvetanov and Wolfgang Schoene, while “Erwartung” features soprano Elena Nebera. The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra will also participate, under the baton of Nikos Tsouchlos. 9 p.m., Alexandra Trianti Hall.

On Friday > As part of the Dionysios Solomos Year, the Greek National Poet, the Camerata Orchestra, under Vyron Fidetzis and joined by soprano Mata Katsouli, mezzo-soprano Mary-Ellen Nezi, tenor Yiannis Christopoulos, baritone Dimitris Tiliakos, narrator Anna Synodinou and the Thessaloniki Choir, will perform works by Manolis Kalomiris and Beethoven. 8.30 p.m., Friends of Music Hall.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali and Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens, tel 210 7282333.
Reservations for all events should be made well in advance on tel 210 7282333 or via the Internet on www.megaron.gr 

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WASP Live in Greece this week October 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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WASP need no introduction, so here are the venue’s details >

Principal Club Theater, 17th km Thessaloniki-Moudania Highway, Thermi, Thessaloniki, tel 2310 428088. 
On Friday > Metal by veterans WASP. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at Ticket House, 20 Ethnikis Amynis Street, Thessaloniki, tel 2310 253630.

Gagarin 205 Venue, 205 Liosion Street, Athens, tel 210 8547600. 
On  Saturday > Metal by veterans WASP. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at Ticket House, 42 Panepistimiou Street, Athens, tel 210 3608366.

Still-fresh Half Note Jazz Club turns 30 October 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs.
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The venue is back for another season of jazz and much more with live performances seven nights a week > Chilean Claudia Acuna, who has released work on the Verve label, performs until Thursday.

Celebrating its 30th year in the business this winter, the Half Note Jazz Club, nowadays a bigger, more extravagant and pricier venue compared to its humbler earlier versions at several locations around Athens, promises to continue its trademark policy of non-stop music for yet another year. All may lie still across the road from the venue, at the capital’s First Cemetery in the Mets district, but, since moving to the neighborhood a little over a decade ago, the jazz club has offered live music seven days a week, often beyond the jazz field.

Originally launched in 1977, when jazz music was a rare breed here, at a venue along Michalakopoulou Street, not far from downtown Athens, the Half Note relocated to Strefi Hill in Exarchia and then moved again for a considerable spell to the downtown Ambelokipi area before settling at its current Mets base in the mid-90s.

Now, just weeks into the new season, the Half Note is currently hosting Chilean vocalist Claudia Acuna and her quintet until Thursday. Acuna, who performed at the Athens club seven years ago, has proven a notable figure on the international circuit in recent years.

Though she always wanted to be a singer, the Santiago-born and -raised Acuna, who grew up singing her homeland’s traditional folk songs and pop hits, did not discover jazz music until her mid-teens. She began frequenting a key jazz club in Santiago, both as a performer and audience member, before moving to New York City in 1995 to pursue the career more seriously. She started taking on odd jobs and was a keen contributor to jam sessions, sometimes waiting until the early morning hours for her chance to sing, gradually making a name for herself on New York’s circuit.

Five years after her move to New York, Acuna put our her debut album, “The Wind From the South” on the renowned label Verve Records, which offered the new artist a contract. She has since released another two albums, 2002’s “Rhythm of Life” and 2004’s “Luna.” Her live sets include Latin jazz numbers, originals steeped in bossa nova and soul balladry, as well as covers of material by major artists such as George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Stevie Wonder.

Fado singer Silvia Filipe, a French-born artist of Portuguese descent, takes over from Acuna on Friday for a further week. Like a fair number of her contemporaries, Filipe has added poetic and theatrical elements to the old fado style, a popular Portuguese song form that emerged early last century. Filipe released her debut album “Sea of Fado” in 2003 and followed up with last year’s “Canto Serena.” Interestingly, Filipe uses saxophone, an unorthodox choice of instrument for fados, which will be included in her backing trio for her Athens shows.

Forthcoming Half Note bookings, beyond Filipe’s October 26 to November 1 residency, include: blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin with Buddy Flett and the Bluebirds (November 2-8); the Rashied Ali Quintet (November 9-15); flamenco act David Perez – Ana Morales Y Grupo (November 16-22); and soul-jazz act Stephanie McKay (November 30 – December 6). For bookings, call 210 9213310 or 210 9232360.

Half Note Jazz Club, 17 Trivonianou Street, Mets, Athens, tel 210 9213310.

Successful reunion fuels return of Radio Birdman October 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Touring extensively since the release of last year’s ‘Zeno Beach’ the band’s first album of new material in 25 years, Radio Birdman return to Greece for a second successive year this week.

Now reformed and busy impressing new and older fans on the international touring circuit, Radio Birdman, an early punk-era act formed by Australian surfer-turned-rocker Rob Younger on vocals and American rocker-turned-surgeon Deniz Tek on guitar, return to Greece for a second successive year this week with shows scheduled for Thessaloniki’s Principal Club on Friday and the An Club in Athens the following evening.

Based in Sydney, Radio Birdman formed in 1974 and took their cue from two high-energy American acts, MC5 and the Stooges. The band’s first round of activity fell apart in 1981 not long after the act’s second album, “Living Eyes” which followed 1978’s “Radios Appear” a record whose style, which came to be known as the “Australian sound,” influenced numerous acts both domestically and beyond.

The act’s original lineup regrouped in 1996 for festival appearances in Australia and took it a step further last year with the release of a new album, “Zeno Beach.”

Reflecting the worldwide demand for the proto-punk band, the comeback tour’s itinerary, about two-and-a-half months long, includes over 40 dates. Radio Birdman’s previous show in Athens last year, which was the band’s first here, sold out.

Principal Club Theater, 17th km Thessaloniki-Moudania Highway, Thermi, Thessaloniki, tel 2310 428088.
An Club, 13-15 Solomou Street, Exarchia, Athens, tel 210 3305056.
Tickets can be purchased at all Metropolis music stores, Ticket House at 42 Panepistimiou Street, Athens and at the Vinyl Microstore, 34 Didotou Street, Athens.

PPC’s poor efficiency performance October 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
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All of PPC’s lignite-fired power stations were found seriously wanting in terms of best production practices compared with other European plants.

Electricity utility Public Power Corporation (PPC) can save up to 750 million euros by rationalizing its operations, a special study has found.

The report, prepared by Booz Allen Hamilton for the corporation’s new business plan, eloquently explains the corporation’s poor economic situation, which is not due to outside factors such as fuel prices or the way that the daily electricity distribution market operates, as PPC often claims.

The study points out that PPC’s main production units operate inefficiently, causing a significant financial burden. It also says there is a need to reduce spending by at least 1 billion euros annually if PPC is to become competitive and secure satisfactory returns for shareholders.

PPC’s mining division was found to be the most inefficient, with margin for reducing costs by 270 million. Power production could save about 111 million, distribution about 110 million, transmission 23 million and commercial operations 12.6 million euros.

The efficiency of the mining division, which operates lignite mines, was assessed in comparison to coal. The report says that under present conditions, four of the five large mines are not competitive. According to Booz Allen Hamilton, for the price of lignite to approach that of coal and eliminate the competitive disadvantage, costs must be reduced by 270 million, or between 18 percent and 74 percent for each mine.

In production, a comparison of expenditures between PPC plants and those in other countries showed that lignite-fired stations lack best practices.

Corresponding comparisons for oil and natural gas-fired stations showed potential for reducing operating costs, although maintenance costs are lower than in others adopting best practices.

In distribution, the study found significant divergence on quality issues, which have an impact on consumers, as EU standards are not adopted. More specifically, each Greek electricity consumer suffers 252 minutes of blackouts annually, compared to respective averages of 162 minutes in Ireland, 131 minutes in Spain, 97 in Italy, 68 in the UK and 51 in France. Only Portugal fares worse than Greece, with 304 minutes of blackouts. Greece also lags behind by 21-23 percent in the time required for new ordinary connections and by 44-46 percent for more demanding connections.

New projects for EAXA? October 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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Firm that unified archaeological sites seeks new lease on life > The demolition of the Korean Market and the creation of a green space in Kerameikos Square is EAXA’s last major project. Next is the Monastiraki Square revamp.

The demolition of the Korean Market and the creation of a green space in Kerameikos Square is the Unification of Athens Archaeological Sites company’s (EAXA) last major project. Still to come is the revamp of Monastiraki Square.

Officially, EAXA came to the end of its 10-year existence on October 15. When the Culture and Public Works Ministries set up the company, it had a specific end date. EAXA’s offices still operate as normal, as the state has never paid attention to the issue. The only people who are anxious are the 40 employees. Will EAXA get a second lease on life, given that the projects it instigates are still in progress, such as the revamp of Monastiraki Square? Or will it close down as stipulated in its founding document?

On principle, EAXA President Kleanthis Griveas favors adhering to the legal regime, especially in the case of state firms charged with a specific task. On condition, though, as he said, “that they have completed their mission.” Does EAXA fall into that category?

“The major challenges for the company and the center of Athens have been met. The Megalos Peripatos [sculpture event] took place, the archaeological sites have been unified, the third square in Kerameikos was created.”

Yet, as he explained, there are matters outstanding, such as work on Ardittos Hill, Zappeion and Plato’s Academy. Is another state firm needed to manage those two projects? “Look,” said Griveas, “at the moment there is no equivalent body with the expertise of EAXA, not the Athens Municipality or public works services.”

Both Ministers view an extension “quite favorably.” In any case, Griveas doesn’t want any indefinite extension. “We are talking about five years.” He made another suggestion: “The company’s brief could be broadened to include areas outside Athens, in Piraeus, Thessaloniki and the historic centers of other cities.”

Rain leaves minimal damage October 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
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Many parts of the country got as much rainfall over the weekend as they do in a month, according to meteorologists, but the summer’s fire-ravaged areas were not hard hit by the downpours.

The heaviest rainfall was in Attica, Pyrgos, Paros and Thessaloniki. In Attica, the fire service received dozens of calls from citizens reporting flooded homes or stores. In the central district of Kolonos, a hole opened up in the road, causing traffic problems. In Thessaloniki, many areas experienced power cuts.

Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros is today due to visit the northern suburb of Vrilissia to oversee the implementation of 2-million-euro anti-flood works. “Vrilissia is more vulnerable since the fires on Mount Pendeli this summer,” Sgouros said.

A few minor landslides occurred on roads in Arcadia, Messinia, Laconia and Corinth. But there were no major problems in most fire-ravaged areas such as Ileia and Mount Parnitha where recently built anti-flood barriers averted mudslides. Meteorologists warned of more rain and thunderstorms today and tomorrow.