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Nicolas Kynaston recital at the Megaron tonight March 15, 2008

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As Easter approaches, along with the fragrances of spring, ecclesiastic music creates a feeling of spiritual awakening.

In the past, Athenians used to listen to works by Bach and Haydn played on the organ in the Catholic Cathedral. In 1995, as a new era began, the organ that dominates the Friends of Music Hall at the Athens Concert Hall won a devoted public. Leading British organist Nicolas Kynaston came to play at the festival of organ music he organized in 1997 and 1999. He has been the Concert Hall’s permanent organist since 1995.

Tonight, starting at 8.30 p.m., he will give a recital of church music dedicated to the baroque composer Dietrich Buxtehude on the 300th anniversary of his death. The program includes works by Buxtehude himself, Georg Bohm, J.S. Bach and Johann Pachelbel.

Kynaston was born in Devon and left at the age of 15 to study in Italy. At the age of 19, he was appointed organist at Westminster Cathedral, where he remained until 1971. He first performed in Greece in 1965 at the Athens Festival. Nicolas Kynaston is an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Organists. He has taught regularly at Cambridge for many years and has started an organ school at the Athens Concert Hall, the first in Athens since ancient times.

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Camerata to perform in China November 14, 2007

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Athens Chamber Orchestra plays in Beijing Saturday as part of ongoing Greek cultural series

Saturday’s concert at the Beijing Conservatory of Music in the Chinese capital will feature works by five contemporary Greek composers. The Cultural Year of Greece in China series is set to run until next September.

An energetic ensemble that performs extensively both at home and abroad, the Camerata – Friends of Music Orchestra, Greece’s leading chamber orchestra, will perform in China this Saturday at the capital’s Beijing Conservatory of Music.

The show, the latest event for the Cultural Year of Greece in China, a series leading to next summer’s Beijing Olympics, will present to the Chinese public works by five contemporary Greek composers.

The repertoire includes “Kitrino potami” by Giorgos Kouroupos, a composition for soprano and chamber orchestra featuring excerpts of Chinese poetry; “A une Madone,” a project by Dimitris Terzakis for violin and strings orchestra that was inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s poem of the same name; “Kouragio” a work for strings by the Greek-American composer George Tsontakis; “Zeitgeist” by Christos Hatzis; and “Slow Motion” by Thanos Mikroutsikos. The Camerata, conducted by Nikos Tsouchlos, will be joined by soprano Maria Mitsopoulou and violinist Sergiu Nastasa.

The Camerata’s concert on Saturday will be preceded by a performance this Friday by the Beijing Symphony Orchestra with its renditions of compositions by Jani Christou, Nikos Skalkottas, Iannis Xenakis and Giorgos Koumentakis, one of the country’s more gifted newer-generation composers who was commissioned for material that graced the opening ceremony of the Athens Olympics in 2004. Also, classical pianist Dimitris Sgouros will perform Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No 3.

Other upcoming events on the Cultural Year of Greece in China agenda include a performance by the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra next month that will be dedicated to Nikos Kazantzakis. The concert, scheduled for December 14, will feature pieces by prominent Greek and foreign composers that were based on works by the writer. Also, the Athens State Orchestra will perform in six Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, between December 27 and January 7.

Camerata on Monday November 12, 2007

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For the 14th consecutive year, the Camerata Friends of Music Orchestra is to be sponsored exclusively by EFG Eurobank.

The announcement will be made during a special gathering at the Athens Concert Hall on Monday. Marianna J. Latsis, the Bank’s Vice President, will be present, along with Christos Lambrakis, President of the Athens Concert Hall.

The Orchestra is led by maestros Sir Neville Marriner, the ensemble’s honorary President, Alexandre Myrat and Warren Green. Monday’s event will include announcements regarding the orchestra’s embarking on new cultural and social missions, such as a series of concerts to take place in schools and prisons, among other places.

Athens State Orchestra forging ahead, despite problems November 10, 2007

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The Athens State Orchestra’s artistic director, Vyron Fidetzis, discusses his plans for the season

The ASO performs almost every Friday night in the Athens Concert Hall’s Friends of Music Hall, in front of a dedicated audience. This year, the orchestra will also perform at the Benaki Museum and the National Gallery. In January, it is scheduled to travel abroad, first to China and then to Istanbul.

The Athens State Orchestra is something we feel very close to but don’t know much about. This time every year, it holds a press conference to announce its program but the news isn’t always good. For the past six years, ever since the Pallas Theater, where the orchestra held its concerts and rehearsals, closed down, things have been hard. The rehearsals hall at the Athens Conservatory, the orchestra’s official home, proved entirely unsuitable and the halls ceded by the Athens Concert Hall for rehearsals are not always available or suitable.

Despite all that, the new season is full of expectations and plans. The orchestra, which is about to recruit high-caliber musicians, performs almost every Friday night in the Athens Concert Hall’s Friends of Music Hall, in front of its dedicated audience. The program is striking and features a tour to China, concerts at the concert hall and much more, including the release of a double CD by the label Legend as well a a new website. Vyron Fidetzis, the Athens State Orchestra’s artistic director, spoke to the local  press about future plans and problems.

What are the highlights of the new season? > This year, the Athens State Orchestra will be spread across the entire city, beyond the Athens Concert Hall, as far as the Benaki Museum and the National Gallery. Our two trips abroad are also important. From December 29 to January 8, we will be in China, as part of the Year of Greece exchanges, and on January 24 we will perform in Istanbul.

What are your concerns as the orchestra’s artistic director? > As you know, the venue provided by the orchestra’s official home, the Athens Conservatory, is entirely unsuitable. We retain it, despite the huge costs, so as not to lose a permanent base. The Athens Concert Hall provides some halls, but that is only when their own obligations have been seen to, so from one week to the next we do not know where we will be able to rehearse.

It would be ideal for us to have our own space in which to to perform and rehearse. We also have the problem of acoustics where we rehearse. How can you shape your sound in an unsuitable venue? We were happy to learn that the new minister of culture has shown interest in the orchestra’s housing problem and we are waiting.

You have done a lot to promote the work of Greek composers. Why do you believe it is important? > As was also the case in the past, this year we have a lot of premieres by Greek composers. An orchestra has to strike a balance between classic and contemporary and to present a panorama of composers. But we also have a special, cultural role to promote Greek art, not out of patriotism but because it is of international interest and can contribute to art and society in general. We have a 200-year musical history in Greece which most people are unaware of. We have to fill that gap.

Who attends the orchestra’s concerts? Are there any young people? > We have a dedicated fan base and we want to enlarge it. It is not easy and we don’t want to take hasty steps, but we have a long-term, school-related educational policy. We have already given some educational concerts and we hope to target more people with our tours around Greece as well. Our hopes lie with the young people and it is our duty to give them the best we can. That is the point of music education, but it is no easy thing to create music education.

What would you change in Greece’s cultural life if you could? > I would focus more on education. It is very important to have educated people who are aware of their Greekness, not in a narrow-minded sense but open to the global reality. I would also stress the need to cultivate people’s intellect.

Program highlights > At the Athens Concert Hall, the Athens State Orchestra’s program for this season includes concerts for the Year of Dionysios Solomos, a concert by pianist Nelli Semitekolo in February, Rossini’s opera “The Italian Girl in Algiers” with mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa, the Greek Music Celebrations starting at the end of March and more.

Concerts at the Benaki Museum include contemporary Greek music in January, a performance by the Orchestra of Ancient Greek Instruments in February and an evening in May dedicated to Constantinos Kydoniatis on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, among others.

At the National Gallery, the orchestra will perform with pianists Alexandra Papastefanou and Jenia Manousaki in January, a concert by the Athens State Orchestra Winds Quintet also in January, a tribute to Benjamin Britten in February and more.

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

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 

A concert in memory of Edvard Grieg October 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Classical.
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joachim_kjelsaas_kwetzinsky.jpg  The young Norwegian piano soloist Joachim Kjelsaas Kwetzinsky will perform at the Athens Concert Hall’s tribute to composer Edvard Grieg today at 8.30 p.m.

Marking the centennial of Edvard Grieg’s death (1843-1907), the Orchestra of Colors, in collaboration with the the Embassy of Norway, is holding a tribute concert to the great Norwegian composer today at 8.30 p.m. at the Athens Concert Hall’s Friends of Music Hall.

The program will comprise the “Peer Gynt” suite, the First Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, the Holberg Suite and the Norwegian Dances, Opus 35. Joachim Kjelsaas Kwetzinsky will be at the piano, while the Orchestra of Colors will be conducted by Yang Yang, the 2006 recipient of the Dimitris Mitropoulos International Competition for Orchestra Conductors award.

Later in the month, on October 23, 25, 27 and 29, the Athens Concert Hall will be inaugurating its opera series with a double-bill performance of “Der Zwerg” (The Dwarf) by Alexander von Zemlinsky and Arnold Shoenberg’s monodrama for soprano “Erwartung” (Expectation). The performance will be directed by Switzerland’s Eike Grams, sets and costumes are designed by Gottfried Pilz, lighting is by Manfred Voss and choreography by Petros Gallias.

Based on Oscar Wilde’s novel “The Birthday of the Infanta” the one-act opera “The Dwarf” will feature Marlis Petersen in the role of Donna Clara, Mata Katsouli as Ghita, Boiko Zvetanov as the dwarf and Wolfgang Schoene as Don Estoban. In the second part of the program, “Erwartung” will be performed by soprano Inga Nielsen. The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Nikos Tsouchlos.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkalis and Vasilissis Sophias Avenue, Athens, tel 210 7282333. Nearest metro station “Megaron”.

Related Links > www.megaron.gr

Athens Megaron’s autumn treats October 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums, Ballet Dance Opera, Music Life Classical, Music Life Greek.
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The Athens Concert Hall’s diverse programme covers a wide gamut of tastes inmusic, art and even astronomy

From classical music treats and the 4th Balkan Dance Platform to Chinese acrobatics and a Viennese art exhibition, the Megaron Mousikis’ diverse programme has many surprises in store in the next four months.

As part of the Megaron’s “Great Interpreters” series, Christopher Hogwood, honorary director of the Academy of Old Music, will conduct the local Camerata Orchestra at Nicholas Kynaston’s recital of Haydn and Beethoven works (October 21). Visiting soloists will include pianist Oleg Maisenberg (November 10) and Alfred Brendel (November 30), the first pianist to record Beethoven’s entire piano oeuvre. Koln’s WDR Symphony Orchestra (October 6), under the baton of Semyon Bychkov, and the Royal Stockholm Philhar-monic (December 17-18), which participates every year in the Nobel Prize awards ceremony, have also been booked to appear in the series.

Opera will be represented by Eike Gramss’ joint production (October 23, 25, 27 and 29) of two works: Alexander Zemlinsky’s 1922 one-act opera The Dwarf, based on Oscar Wilde’s sardonic tale The Birthday of Infanta, and Arnold Schoenberg’s 1909 dramatic soprano solo Expectation, starring Marlis Petersen and Inga Nielsen, respectively.

Apart from the much-anticipated 4th Balkan Dance Platform (October 11-13), a biennial event which has already featured in Sofia (2001), Bucharest (2003) and Skopje (2005) before reaching Athens, the Megaron’s dance tribute will host the world premiere of Jan Fabre’s I Am a Mistake (November 28), a multi-disciplinary production combining dance, film, live music and text performed by Fabre’s Troubeyn company.

As part of the Megaron’s popular “Bridges” series, Greek music treats include a celebration of singer and songwriter Antonis Kaloyannis’ 40-year career (October 4), which began when Mikis Theodorakis invited the young singer to appear next to Maria Farantouri in a tour of the former USSR.

Megaron’s Christmas agenda mainly caters to families and consists of two events: a musical theatre production about two children on a mission to return to people their lost dreams, which is set to the music of Thanos Mikroutsikos and choreographed by his daughter Cecile (December 20-23 and December 25-30), and the Spectacular Acrobatics shows by China’s National Acrobatic troupe, which will also be featured in the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics.

The Megaron Mousikis will also hold a charity event on September 24, highlighting violin virtuoso Leonidas Kavakos. All proceeds will go to aid the victims of the deadly fires that have recently ravaged the country.

Megaron Plus, the concert hall’s state-supported, non-music cultural programme, will cast the spotlight on literature, architecture and science-related events.

Visiting writers include Platform author Michel Houellebecq (October 25) and Japan’s Jung Chang (November 30). Local poets Kiki Dimoula and Dinos Christianopoulos will present their work on October 29 and November 2, respectively. In addition, a symposium on 1930s generation novelist Angelos Terzakis is planned for November 23.

Lined up on the architecture front are lectures by New Acropolis Museum architect Bernard Tschumi (October 10) and Pritzker Prize holder Thom Mayne (December 4).

A parallel exhibition of Gustav Klimt’s, Egon Schiele’s and Oskar Kokoschka’s works (October 23-December 30) will bring to Athens 70 paintings, most of which are from Vienna’s Leopold Museum, including Schiele’s Dead Mother and Kokoschka’s Self-Portrait. In addition, the directors of three French and three Greek Museums will participate in a round-table discussion, “Museums in the 20th Century” (December 3).

Spreading its wide-ranging gamut of interests into the realm of astronomy, Megaron Plus will host an anniversary event commemo-rating the launching of the Sputnik I satellite 50 years ago (October 5), in collaboration with the Eugenides Foundation. Paris Planetarium astrophysicist Jean-Pierre Luminet will also give a lecture entitled “Limits and Mysteries of the Universe” (October 9).

Related Links > www.megaron.gr