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Heracles cult lecture in London November 12, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Europe.
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Professor Vassilis Aravantinos, Ephor of Antiquities for Viotia and Larymna since 1993, is to give an extremely interesting lecture at King’s College in London for the Greek Archaeological Committee (UK) on Monday, November 13.

Aravantinos, who is also director of the Thebes Archaeological Museum, has directed major excavations in the region and published extensively on his findings. Two years ago a publication on important findings in a vacant lot in Thebes, near the area of the Elektra Gates, connected to the worship of Heracles, attracted international interest.

As reported this week, this led the Culture Ministry to plan an archaeological site in the center of the town. The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) issued a ruling setting aside the vacant and adjoining lot for the purpose of highlighting the artifacts.

It is a great honor for the Greek Archaeological Committee (UK), whose chairperson is Matti Egon, to have this distinguished archaeologist give the address on the findings that date from the 8th century BC. This will be the first time that the professor has presented his findings in Britain.

The artifacts include parts of decorated tiles, inscriptions, one of them referring to Apollo Ismenios, and also a number of rich votives such as pottery and other dedications. Excavations to the west of this area revealed further evidence of a cult, including bases of small altars, fragments of Daedalic-style statues and a large number of vases, as well as remains of sacrifices. Based on the discovery of these rich finds, Aravantinos argues that the cult in this area is related to the hero Heracles and his family, the Heracleides.

The committee, founded in 1986 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Greek Archaeological Society, was led by Matti Egon from 1986 to 1993. Julie Kallios and Irene Lemou each had stints at the helm before Egon took the reins again in 2004. Apart from its lecture series, the committee grants scholarships for postgraduate studies in Britain in Greek archaeology, provided by Matti Egon, the Greek Archaeological Committee, the Leventis Foundation and Nikolaos I. Hatzipateras in memory of Irene N. Hatzipatera.


Greece goes to the opera November 5, 2006

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Greece goes to the opera at Cadogan Hall, London, with The Royal Philharmonic

London’s fall music season got off to a good start with nine Greeks participating in a concert titled “Greece at the Opera” at Cadogan Hall, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Alessandro Ferrari.

Under the auspices of the Greek Foreign Ministry, the concert was organized by Apollonian Enterprises, subsidized mainly by National Bank of Greece, Mega Television, Sotheby’s and the law firm of Haris Economopoulos.

The program featured sopranos Vassiliki Karayianni, Rosa Kapon-Poulimeiou, Medea Iasonidou, Anna Morfidou, Elena Kokka, mezzo-soprano Marita Paparizou, tenor Mario Zefiri (Yiannis Votsarakos), baritone Dimitris Platanias and the pianist Alexandros Kapelis and included arias and duets from operas and operettas inspired by Greece.

According to the firm’s artistic director, Elena Matthaiopoulou, an author of music books, people who love opera, which Greeks consider an foreign import, do not know that it was born in Italy in the 16th century thanks to Greece. The ancient Greek gods, myths, heroes and heroines have inspired many of the most popular operas and greatest composers since the Renaissance.

The Greek singers performed arias from Strauss’s “Ariadne on Naxos,” Offenbach’s “Belle Helene,” the duet from Purcell’s “Pausanias” and songs from Mozart’s “Mithridates” and Cherubini’s “Medea.”

The audience was particularly enthusiastic about Ali Pasha’s aria from the opera “Kyra Frosini” by the Ionian island composer Pavlos Karrer (sung by Dimitris Platanias), reminiscent of Donizetti and the early Verdi. Perhaps, the same program could be performed here in Greece by the same artists.

Modern Greek arrives at the Louvre October 17, 2006

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Thousands of visitors travel to the Louvre each year to admire its treasures, many just to see the famous Venus de Milo or the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

The Louvre is home to some of the most important masterpieces of ancient Greek art, which is probably why Alain Pasquier, director of the Louvre’s Department of Greek and Roman antiquities, felt that the explanatory material provided to the visitors of the Greek antiquities exhibition halls should also be displayed in Greek.

Together with the Greek-born archaeologist Alice Samara-Kauffmann, who used to work in the same department at the Louvre, Pasquier initiated the project of having all the explanatory material translated into modern Greek. The Ioannis F. Costopoulos Foundation and the Karelia Tobacco Company are the exclusive financial sponsors of this project whose completion will be celebrated today at the Louvre.

This is the first time that a museum outside Greece has made all the explanatory material concerning Greek antiquities available in Modern Greek. Pasquier felt that the lack of such material was an omission that should be corrected, especially since the Modern Greek language is the continuation of that, Homer’s language, in the words of Pasquier, spoken by the same civilization that created the Greek antiquities.

The explanatory material is written by museum specialists in Greek antiquities and provides detailed and lengthy historical and cultural information on each holding. Samara-Kauffmann translated most of the essays, while Alexandra Kardianou-Michelle and Epi Vandorou also worked on the project. Out of the roughly 300 explanatory leaflets that exist throughout the museum, 57 concern Greek antiquities. Their inclusion in Greek is an unusual gesture of cultural significance.

Greek tragedy at Warwick Arts Centre October 4, 2006

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Shared Experience bring a new production of Euripides’ classic Greek tragedy Orestes to Warwick Arts Centre next week.

The production, in association with Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, has embarked on a national tour which culminates in November with a run at London’s Tricycle Theatre. Regular Shared Experience collaborator Helen Edmundson has adapted Euripides’ potent drama of avenging siblings for the stage.

Young Orestes and his sister Electra, banished by mother Clytemnestra, return years later to a city still shaken by the Trojan War. Orestes and Electra stand trial for Clytemnestra’s murder, but while some in the city want to break the cycle of revenge and simply banish the pair once again from the city, others want blood. Orestes explores the tragedy of human relationships set against the backdrop of war.

Shared Experience’s production combines vivid story-telling, emotional complexity and powerful performances to create a compelling and explosive account of destruction and revenge.

Directed by Nancy Meckler, Alex Robertson plays Orestes and Mairead McKinley plays Electra, while the supporting cast includes Tim Chipping as Menelaos, Jeffery Kissoon as Tyndareus, and Clara Onyemere as Helen.

Orestes runs at Warwick Arts Centre from Tuesday, October 10 to Saturday, October 14. Performances start at 7.30pm, with a Saturday matinee performance at 2.30pm. Tickets, priced from £14.50 to £20.50, can be booked at the box office on 7652 4524 or on-line at www.warwickartscentre.co.uk

Theatre > Big Love October 2, 2006

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Theatre > Big Love

Gate Theatre
Pembridge Road, W11 3HQ, London, UK

Director: Melissa Kievman.
Cast: Helen Baker, Alexi Kaye Campbell, Bradley Gardner, Tim Hardy, Georgia Mackenzie, Ann Mitchell, Alex Waldmann, Victoria Yeates

Description: Contemporary take by Charles L. Mee, on Aeschylus’ The Suppliants. Fifty sisters who have been promised in marriage, try to escape to Greece, but their boat is washed up on the shores of Italy, where they are found by the promised grooms. Negotiations are not in the reckoning, so three brides-to-be promise that not one man will live through his wedding night.

Times: From Sep 25, Mon-Sat 7.30pm (press night September 28), ends October 21
Price: £15, concs available
Trains: Tube: Notting Hill Gate 
Phone: 0207229 0706

Troy comes to Colosseum September 29, 2006

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Heroes and gods shown in paintings, sculptures, vases

The Trojan War has come to the Colosseum with a major new show on Homer’s legendary account of the conflict .

Achilles, Ulysses, Hector, Paris, Agamemnon and Priam are just some of the figures depicted in mosaics, frescos, sculptures and vases showing scenes from the Iliad, brought to the Roman amphitheatre from Italy’s leading museums.

The poet Homer, now believed to be a mythical composite of Ancient Greek bards, is shown in three marble heads, a IV century AD portrait and a two later Hellenistic paintings.

Verses from the epic poem are posted around the monument under the figures they refer to, including the gods who took Greece’s side, Mars and Minerva, and those protecting Troy, Venus and Apollo.

Among the gems included in the show is a wall painting from Pompeii showing The Rape of Iphigenia, the daughter of Greek leader Agamemnon who was sacrificed to appease the gods.

Another is what curator Mario Torelli of Perugia University called “an extraordinary micro-sculpture”, the Tabula Iliaca, a bas-relief from Rome’s Capitoline Museums which shows the most dramatic events in the war.

“For other cultures, war was normal. Only Ancient Greece produced such a momentous account of its drama, destruction and sorrows,” Torelli added.

The exhibit, the latest in a series at the Colosseum including a sell-out show on gladiators, has been geared to the general public and not the specialist, co-curator Angelo Bottini of Rome’s archaeological superintendency said .

“We aimed to show the importance of the Homeric epic in ancient times, how it ran through various civilisations and still has lessons for us today,” he said.

The show runs till February 18.

International Congress of Byzantine Studies September 16, 2006

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The futures of the past was one of eight themes at the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies in London.

Shedding light on every aspect of Byzantium, the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies in London focused on presenting an empire of power and intellect. From August 21-26, 1,200 Byzantinists from around the world gathered under the aegis of Charles, Prince of Wales.

The congress was initiated by Professor Anthony Bryer of Birmingham University, who studied under the eminent Byzantinist, the late Sir Steven Runciman, at Cambridge. Dr Judith Herrin, who teaches Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King’s College London, gave the opening address to warm applause. The other themes in a packed program were “Empire on Display,” “Works and Days,” “Infrastructures: Words, Texts, Orthodoxy,” and “Byzantium on Display.”

Evening events included concerts, visits to exhibitions at Lambeth Palace, the British Museum, the British Library and Somerset House. And there were receptions at the British Museum and British Library, organized by Matti and Nicholas Egon, the A.G. Leventis Foundation and the Hellenic Foundation for Culture.