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The Carnival Season started February 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture, Greek Culture Heritage.
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29-02-08_carnival.jpg  The Carnival season is in full swing across Greece as people dress up in various costumes. A man on stilts joined clowns and jugglers in Thessaloniki’s Aristotelous Square yesterday, which drew large crowds as part of Carnival activities. Concerts were also held in the northern Greek city on a day known as Tsiknopempti, the traditional heart of the Carnival season when large quantities of meat are consumed.

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Touch of spice > building an appetite for a great cause February 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Greece, Greek Taste Local.
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29-02-08_gb.jpg  Restaurant with a view. The Grand Balcon at the St Georges Lycabettus hotel in Kolonaki, Athens.

Nothing like building an appetite for a good cause. Charity and gastronomy meet at the table next month, as “Food for Life” a culinary event at the Grand Balcon restaurant of the St George Lycabettus hotel, opens its doors on Thursday, March 6.

Taking place on Thursdays next month, the event brings a group of prominent, British and Britain-based food masters to Greece. At the Grand Balcon, guest chefs Atul Kocchar (March 6), Anthony Demetre (March 13) and Martin Wishart (March 20) will be preparing signature dishes for their Athenian diners.

Proceeds from all three exceptional dinners currently being organized will benefit charity organization “The Child’s Smile” for the construction of a new ward at Paidon, the children’s hospital in Athens. The ward is destined for the treatment of teenage cancer patients.

Britain’s culinary craftsmen have come a long way – steak and kidney pie aside. From the simplicity and nature-friendly take of the Naked Chef, aka Jamie Oliver, to the likes of haute cuisiniers Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsey, among many more, the art of cooking has fast become a booming business, a vast playground for big and small egos in state-of-the-art kitchens and a fountain of international culinary expertise.

Executive chef and director of the Benares restaurant in London’s upmarket Mayfair, Atul Kocchar became the first Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star. Born in Jamshedpur in Eastern India, Kocchar began his career at the Oberoi group of hotels in India, before moving to London to open the Tamarind restaurant in 1994. Though based in Britain, Kocchar travels frequently to his homeland, researching ingredients and recipes. In Athens, Kocchar will present an evening of Indian colors and flavors, essentially a culinary marriage between traditional and more contemporary Indian dishes.

Chef and co-owner of Arbutus in London’s Soho, Anthony Demetre is also behind the hugely successful Wild Honey restaurant in Mayfair. Arbutus has been hailed as down-to-earth with value for money prices, voted Best New Restaurant by Time Out in 2006. Known for its British and Mediterranean flair, the restaurant’s top scores go to dishes such as braised pig’s head with mashed potatoes and caramelized onions.

Meanwhile Wild Honey earned a Michelin star only a few months after its inauguration and accolades such as “The kind of place that New York or Paris would kill to have. You can’t eat better that this,” according to Giles Coren of The Sunday Times.

While chef Demetre will be working on the food side, Ranald McDonald, director of London’s celebrated Boisdale restaurant and jazz bar will present diners with an exclusive selection of whiskies and Cuban cigars.

“Scotland’s next big thing, no question,” is how uber chef Ramsay talks about chef Martin Wishart. The Restaurant Martin Wishart situated in Edinburgh’s port of Leith, is a Michelin star awarded establishment for heavy-duty fine dining. At the table, the chef’s native Scotland meets gastronomic queen France, resulting in a contemporary Scottish take with a French twist.

St George Lycabettus Hotel, 2 Kleomenous, Kolonaki, Athens. For table reservations contact Joanna Evangellou at 210 7234435 and 210 7290711. Price per person set at 125 euros, including wine. For those wishing to participate in all three evenings, the price is 115 euros per dinner. All three evenings begin at 7.30 p.m. with cocktails and canapes. Dinner will follow at 8.30 p.m.

Gallery-hopping around Athens promises variety February 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
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Shows range from Paris Prekas landscapes to Maria Antelman videos > ‘Untitled,’ 2007, mixed technique, 50 x 70 cm. The work is shown at ‘Newslater’ the solo exhibition of painter Eleni Theofyllaktou at the a.antonopoulou.art gallery. Like most of her works, it contains surrealism and plays with scale and proportion.

A selection of art exhibitions that are currently taking place at the galleries and museums in different parts of Athens indicates diversity and a broad range.

The solo exhibition of painter Eleni Theofyllaktou, currently at the a.antonopoulou.art gallery (20 Aristophanous Street, Athens, tel 210 3214994, http://www.aaart.gr) through March 15, is among the most interesting shows on view this month. Colored, pencil drawings in different sizes depict surreal-like images that usually feature a young girl or female figure. Birds, especially storks, are a recurring motif. The works contain humor and paradox. They indirectly speak of femininity and the passage from childhood to puberty and adolescence. The unusual arrangement of the works, some of them either placed high up or just above the floor, enhance the prevalent atmosphere of mystery and surrealism.

“Family Affairs” an exhibition on the work of Dimitris Tsoublekas presented at the Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center (48 Armatolon and Klefton Street, Athens, tel 210 6442852, http://www.art-tounta.gr) shows the turn that the work of the photographer has taken from urban scenes to more domestic, autobiographical themes. Tsoumplekas keeps to the surreal style typical of his work and evokes childhood memories. To March 29.

A separate, solo exhibition on the work of Dimitris Baboulis is also being held at the same gallery [see above]. Painted with precision and care for detail, the artist’s large ink drawings on rice paper allude to the age of technology and robotics.

An entirely different mood prevails in the work of the late Panos Feidakis, currently being shown at the Frissiras Museum (3 and 7 Monis Asteriou Street, Plaka, Athens, tel 210 3234678, http://www.frissirasmuseum.com) until March 9. Feidakis, who died at a young age, was part of the 80s generation of Greek figurative painters. The exhibition, which is a tribute to his work, contains 100 of his paintings, mostly portraits.

Another exhibition, in the “classical” mode of painting, is the solo show of Paris Prekas at the Fine Arts Kapopoulos gallery (62 Poseidonos Avenue, Alimos, Athens, tel 210 9835303, http://www.kapopoulosart.gr/index_en.html) through March 10. Prekas who is known for his paintings of ships and ports, presents watercolors, all landscapes of Crete.

Coming up this Sunday is a presentation of a selection of Maria Antelman’s videos at the War Museum (2 Rizari and Vasilissis Sophias Avenue, Kolonaki, Athens, tel 210 72 44464). An example of her work is “Voyage, A Comprehensive Questionnaire” a video that is made in the style of a documentary and which re-enacts the Battle of Monmouth that took place in June 1778 during the American Revolution. The exhibition is held in collaboration with The Apartment gallery which represents the New-York based artist Maria Antelman, and will be open every Friday from noon to 2 p.m. to March 21.

Also coming up this Monday is a large exhibition on the work of Yiannis Psychopedis at the Museum of Cycladic Art (4 Neophytou Douka Street, Athens, tel 210 7228321, http://www.cycladic-m.gr). Curated by Takis Mavrotas, the exhibition focuses on the references to ancient Greece in the work of this important Greek artist.

Glass and Cohen team up in Athens February 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Music Life Greek.
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29-02-08_philipglass.jpg  Image of Philip Glass by Leonard Cohen

What is the relationship between composer Philip Glass and multifaceted artist Leonard Cohen? Both enjoy great popularity in Greece, Glass has performed here numerous times, while Cohen purchased a home on the island of Hydra quite some time ago.

Now the two are teaming up for a new project, a combination of theater, poetry and visual arts. The “Book of Longing” a performance based on poems, paintings and sketches by Cohen, will be staged at the Badminton Theater in Goudi from July 8 to 12. Self-portraits, landscapes and portraits of loved ones, mostly women, will be projected onto the background while Glass’s compositions fill the arena. The pensive and erotic “Book of Longing” brings to life 167 poems and 40 sketches that Cohen created over the past 20 years.

Glass selected 22 of these poems and produced a performance that blends instrumental compositions, solo interpretations, recitation and painting. Cohen’s recorded voice is heard reciting poems, telling his story and meditating, while Glass participates as a keyboardist, alongside a group of skilled musicians.

Badminton Theater, Goudi Military Park, Athens, tel 211 1086024. For tickets and information call 210 8840600 or visit >  www.ticketnet.gr

Related Links > http://www.badmintontheater.gr

Lenny Kravitz > 1st August will be a funky day in Athens February 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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“LOVE REVOLUTIONARIES – Stand up and make yourself known, I want to see each and everyone of you! We are all Brothers and Sisters in this movement of spreading the message of Love to hungry hearts and ears!
Be well,
Lenny”

5th of March is the date when pre-sale of tickets starts for the most funky summer concert in Athens, Greece. It’s unbelievable yet true. On Friday 1st August Athens will dance to the rythms of “Are you gonna go My Way”, “American Woman”, “Let Love Rule”, “Mr. Cab Driver”, “I Belong To You”, “Fly Away”, “It Is Time For A Love Revolution” and Lenny Kravitz’s manifest will flood Lycabettus Open-Air Theater and the Athenian sky!

Ticket pre-sales at 50 euro starts on 5 March. Points of sale > Τicket House, 42 Panepistimiou Street, Athens, tel 210 3608366, Τicket House, 102 Mitropoleos Street, Thessaloniki, tel 2310 264880. Online sales > www.ticketpro.gr

Film score wizard works his magic in Athens February 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs.
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Michael Nyman, noted composer for memorable movies, to perform with his ensemble in Athens > For composer Michael Nyman, his orchestra is his ‘real voice.’ 

«My orchestra is the place where I keep the most personal elements of my work,» said famed English composer Michael Nyman of his Michael Nyman Band in an press interview ahead of a career-spanning performance in Athens next week.

Nyman initially established a reputation through early scores for the filmmaker Peter Greenaway, such as «Drowning By Numbers» and «The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover.» Repetitive themes played by exquisite wind instruments and violins created a totally unique atmosphere, which prompted many critics and listeners to herald Nyman as an important musical talent.

His course to date has not betrayed them. The multifaceted, tireless Nyman has continued producing scores and operas; diversified for unanticipated projects with artists such as Damon Albarn of the British pop-rock group Blur; performed shows throughout the world; written commissioned work for the Venice Biennale; and exhibited photography – his other major passion.

In 1993, Nyman became something of a pop star with the extraordinary popularity of his music to Jane Campion’s film «The Piano.» The soundtrack sold over 4 million copies worldwide, an enormous figure for film music standards.

Nyman, on the piano, will be accompanied by a strings quartet, a brass trio, and bass for his upcoming Athens show. The composer first performed with his Michael Nyman Band back in 1976.

«My orchestra is my real voice in the sense that it perfectly represents my musical world to listeners,» said Nyman. «The interesting thing about what we’ve created with the orchestra is that we have a repertory that’s self-sufficient, independent. Being a composer, you have a sense of individuality, but you often want to collaborate with other people. You may have your own universe, but to deliver your work best, you need to climb out of your shell and work with others. As I mature, I realize that I need to place myself in a process of exchange. And I’m glad that I have this band. It offers life, passion and energy to my music. As for the repertory at the Athens show, it will consist mainly of soundtrack work. We’re trying to find a balance between audience preferences and the way the composer wants to present his work.»

Nyman is widely regarded as a «minimalist composer.» Strangely enough, it is a label he coined back in 1968, prior to his days as a composer, while working as a music critic on an article about the British composer Cornelius Cardew.

Nyman, responding to a question on whether he felt that he still belonged to the minimalist field, noted: «The easy way out would be to answer ‘yes’ and move on to the next question. It depends on how one defines minimalism. The interesting thing is that when I described certain composers as minimalists, while working as a music critic, I felt unhappy – probably because artists feel this way when you put tags on them and put them into a box. There is no doubt that those people I described composed in such a way in order to look at music from a new perspective. This was music of a certain direction. My compositions, too, emerged from this perspective. Of course, one changes as one goes along by adding material to his or her music and vocabulary. Even as a minimalist, you can have a more complex musical experience by combining things headed in a certain direction. What once could be described as minimal has outgrown the definition. When, for example, you compose a two-hour opera, can you call it ‘minimal’?»

Not long ago, Nyman established his own music label, MNRecords, an initiative which he says helps feed his creativity, because he is free to work on his own terms. «If I were at a major label, I’d be releasing one or two projects a year. I’d put out 10 projects in a decade, but I am now able to put out 10 in a year, if I wish to. The most significant thing I get from MNRecords is that I compose, record and present my work immediately. Nothing gets left in drawers – it doesn’t age,» noted Nyman. «I’m currently preparing two operas and four soundtracks. And my next release will be a birthday present that is two years late for Mozart’s 250th birthday anniversary. It’s a concept album, a post-modern minimalist approach to his work, titled ‘Mozart 252.’ It would have been difficult to do this project had I belonged to a major label’s roster. Also, just a few days ago, I met with a Russian geneticist and an English filmmaker and we discussed a project that combines the results of recent genetic research with the decline of Minoan civilization. We may have something ready within the next 18 months.»

Amid all this activity, Nyman performed his first political, anti-war project last year, a commissioned work for the BBC orchestra and choir. It is based on a poem by Jamal Juma, an exiled Iraqi living in Denmark, in which the poet expresses concern about his younger brother who is held hostage by US forces in Iraq and is considered missing.

Is this his way of contributing to the protests against the Iraq war? «In recent times, we’ve had pop musicians talk about politics. There’s Bono at the one end, and Live Aid at the other. But all that’s just the icing on the cake. There needs to be a deep connection between artistic work and political issues. Think of the political cabaret of Berlin in the 20s. .. In our times artists are not positioned with a political conscience. The political protest song of the 60s and 70s does not exist, and I don’t see a ‘Guernica’ anywhere. My [anti-war] project, too, was not made so I could change something. It was heard by the audience and a few thousand listeners on the radio. I don’t know what kind of an impact this could have had. The project’s objective was probably nothing more than a way to help me express myself and take a stance on all the horrible things happening around us.»

Michael Nyman Band, March 4, Athens, Badminton Theater, http://www.badmintontheater.gr

OTE telecom offers early retirement to employees February 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Telecoms.
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Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, OTE, the biggest Greek phone company, said it will offer incentives of as much as 40,000 euro to 200 employees to leave this year.

The voluntary exit plan applies to employees who have one to five remaining years of service until retirement, who may get exit bonuses of 5,000 to 40,000 euro, OTE said in a Regulatory News Service statement.

OTE has reduced its workforce to shore up earnings at the Greek fixed-line phone unit as sales declined. The company spent more than 1 billion in 2005 to pay pensions and benefits to about 5,500 workers to retire early, overcoming union opposition.

The reductions allowed Chief Executive Officer Panagis Vourloumis to hire younger workers, who cost the company less and can be fired, unlike older workers, who can’t be sacked because of laws dating from when OTE was the country’s monopoly.

The plan announced yesterday is supported by the company’s OME-OTE union, according to the statement. Employees have until March 21 to apply and departures will begin from April. All employees applying will leave by the end of the year. OTE ’s Greek phone unit had a workforce of 11,560 at the end of September.