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Agnes Baltsa reunites with Stavros Xarchakos April 1, 2008

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Internationally renowned Agnes Baltsa is scheduled to interpret Greek songs at the Athens Concert Hall on Thursday.

“Songs of My Country” will be revived at the Athens Concert Hall this week, under the tutelage of the internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa along with prominent composer Stavros Xarchakos.

The concert, which is scheduled to take place on Thursday, is the outcome of a long-term collaboration between the two artists, essentially a production of songs by Manos Hadjidakis, Mikis Theodorakis, Xarchakos and Vassilis Tsitsanis, featuring Baltsa, accompanied by the State Orchestra of Hellenic Music. The concert also serves as a trailer for a revamped re-edition of a first recording on the project, initially recorded by Deutsche Grammophon back in 1986.

During a press conference in Athens last week, Baltsa talked about the difficulties which arise when it comes to interpreting songs which have been described as the “gospel” of a nation. “I sing with great fear and respect, with a sense of responsiblity as much as joy,” noted the mezzo-soprano.

Proceeds from Thursday evening’s event at the Megaron will go to the Agapi Charity Organization.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali Street and Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens, tel 210 7282333.

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First for Cyprus as local site offers music downloads March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Games & Gadgets, Media Radio TV, Music Life Greek.
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A digital music service provider for music downloads has teamed up with the Dias Group, one of the biggest media groups in Cyprus.

The new service, www.music.sigmalive.com, offers current and classic Greek music as well as a plethora of genres and categories to satisfy to the most selective fans.

www.Music.sigmalive.com will be the first digital music service designed for Cyprus by mpGreek, offering more than 70,000 Greeks songs available for download.

It will allow users to download music onto their computers from the largest Greek digital catalogue, powered by mpGreek. It has all the features of online previewing, secure payments, digital rights management and full online customer service support.

According to a press release, “mpGreek has simplified the user experience with more features and even more content. Consumers can easily buy music encoded in high audio quality from major and independent record labels. Users can rate the songs they see on sigmalive.com and send an e-dedication email with an audio preview and a small note to any email address.”

Prices are 1.10 euro per track. Purchased downloads can be burned onto CDs, transferred to compatible portable devices, and used on up to ten PCs.

“For quite some time, the Cyprus market has been in need of a legal way to download music,” said Michael Rizos, mpGreek business development director. “The music industry of Cyprus has been affected by internet piracy and consumers could not buy Greek repertory online. At mpGreek we believe that our collaboration with a group of such prestige and scope as Dias, means that the Greek musical range will be sold with great success at sigmalive.com, a compact and informed portal.”

Also commenting was Sillia Vasiliou, Web Manager of Sigma Radio TV Public Ltd. “Sigma Live is the only legal site in Cyprus and the island’s first complete internet portal. As our slogan says, it has everything.” She said that the internet, “has transformed how we share information. From illegal downloads of music and video to illicit DVDs and counterfeit designer goods, there isn’t anything that’s not being replicated illegally.

“Internet piracy can be viewed as a method of not paying and those in favour simply see themselves as ‘information sharers’. It is a fact that people don’t want to pay high legitimate prices, so they often go to pirate sites. On the other hand, iTunes is now the third-largest seller of music in the US reporting worldwide sales exceeding three billion songs. And the growth-rate of digital-music transactions is significant.”

Included on the Sigma site is live streaming video and audio, podcasts and much more, giving the user the possibility to legally own the digital Greek music he or she loves.
Visitors to the site can also enjoy continuous news, sport, lifestyle and business updates, as well as interact and express their views. “We position Sigma Live as a one-stop information and entertainment online shop,” Vasiliou said.

Jane Birkin to evoke memories in Athens March 19, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs.
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Singer-actress, best known for her ties with the legendary French songwriter, performs tomorrow

18-03-08_jane_birkin1.jpg  Jane Birkin’s more recent music has branched out beyond the material of former husband and cultural icon Serge Gainsbourg. She will perform old and newer material tomorrow at the Athens Concert Hall.

Her own musical career has been largely based on the songs written for her or about her by the late French pop icon Serge Gainsbourg, as Jane Birkin highlighted during her first performance in Greece several years ago.

Performing on a hot summer evening at the open-air Lycabettus Theater in Athens, the barefooted, scantily dressed, still slim, and still sexy Birkin recalled memories of Gainsbourg, her former partner of 12 years, time and time again between songs. The show’s entire set featured Gainsbourg numbers rearranged and delivered in a sensual and mystical “Arabesque” style, “which he would have liked”, Birkin told her Athenian audience. The show was based on “Arabesque”, an album of Gainsbourg songs she had just released.

The London-born singer and actress who went on to develop closer ties – both personal and artistic – in France than in her homeland, returns to the Greek capital for a second performance, tomorrow night at the Athens Concert Hall.

As expected, the late Gainsbourg – who passed away in 1991 as a heavy-drinking cultural icon in France and a revered cult figure in various other parts of the world at the age of 62 – will figure again in Birkin’s set. But this time, his former spouse will present a repertory that includes work penned by other contemporary artists of various periods such as Bryan Ferry, Manu Chao, Neil Young, Tom Waits, The Smiths, Franz Ferdinand and Goran Bregovic.

Tonight’s set list will be largely based on material from two recent and well-received albums by Birkin, 2004’s “Rendez-Vous” and 2006’s “Fictions”. “Rendez-Vous” had featured a collection of duets with a variety of guests, including Beth Gibbons, the singer of the groundbreaking 90s Bristol act Portishead, and the stylish crooner Bryan Ferry. “Fictions”, which continued in this vein, includes contributions from assorted acts such as Gibbons, Neil Hannon of Divine Comedy, Kate Bush and a selection of new French chanson songwriters, including Dominique A.

“Fictions” also features a few well-chosen covers, including songs by Tom Waits and Neil Young. Johnny Marr, guitarist and songwriter of the iconic pop-rock act The Smiths, played guitar and harmonica on several of the album’s tracks.

All this artistic diversity in Birkin’s more recent ventures may help carry both her own mind, and the minds of fans, away from her pivotal association with Gainsbourg. But as she would be the first to admit, Gainsbourg remains at the core, as indicated by Birkin’s collaborations with younger acts such as Dominique A, whom the late figure probably influenced.

Birkin and Gainsbourg, 18 years her senior, met when she took a role in the 1969 film “Slogan” at a time when both were on their way out of relationships – Birkin with John Barry, composer of the James Bond series scores, and Gainsbourg with Brigitte Bardot.

“Everybody told me he was a mad, bad Russian, but after a dinner together I discovered he was very charming. He was still in love with Brigitte Bardot and I was still in love with John, but little by little we healed each other’s wounds” Birkin told British music magazine Uncut in a recent interview, recalling her late partner who hailed from a Russian-Jewish family that relocated to France.

The newly linked pair quickly struck notoriety and success with the infamous Gainsbourg-penned duet “Je T’Aime, Moi Non Plus”, a major hit in 1969 that launched a long-lasting collaboration between the two. Concertgoers can expect to hear more about it from Birkin tonight.

It’s poetry day all week in Athens March 17, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums, Books Life Greek, Music Life Greek.
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The international celebration is marked with events, discussions, lectures, readings and more

Singer Maria Farandouri, joined by Zacharias Karounis and accompanied by an eight-piece orchestra, will sing at the Athens Concert Hall on Thursday, while actors Eva Kotamanidou and Nikos Bousdoukos will read excerpts at an evening of Greek political poetry set to music. International Poetry Day falls this Friday, March 21, but the celebrations start today.

Stoa tou Vivliou [Books Arcade] and PoeticaNet have put together a lively mix of discussion, poetry set to music and a video, curated by poet Iosif Ventouras. First up are Professors Dimitris Dimiroulos and Elisavet Arseniou, exploring the subject of poetry in the information age. Then the hip-hop group Enemy will present songs from their latest album and collide with living poems. Participants include poet and media artist Dimosthenis Agrafiotis and American poet Heather Raikes, who will talk about her work in a video made for the event. That’s at 8 p.m. today, at the Stoa tou Vivliou, 5 Pesmazoglou Street, Athens, tel 210 3253989.

The European Translation Center (EKEMEL), Ikaros Publishers and Patakis bookstore are saluting International Poetry Day with a presentation of Alexandros Issaris’s book “Kato apo tosa vlefara: Simeioseis gia ton Rilke” (Under So Many Eyelids: Notes on Rilke), published last year by Ikaros. The speakers are literary critic Vangelis Hatzivassileiou, writer Yiannis Efstathiadis and the author, who is also a poet and translator. Actress Mayia Lyberopoulou will read extracts from the book. Tomorrow, Patakis bookstore, 65 Academias Street, Athens, tel 210 3811850, at 7 p.m.

Poems will liven up time spent at bus and tram stops and metro stations and on board public transport as of Wednesday and until April 22. It’s the latest edition of a successful promotion by the National Book Center of Greece (EKEBI). Poet and academic Nasos Vagenas chose the poems and six young students and graduates of the Athens School of Fine Arts produced the colorful posters.

Verses by Nobel laureate Odysseas Elytis feature on a phone card to be issued on International Poetry Day. In a follow-up to another campaign by EKEBI and telecoms provider OTE, there will be a new phone card with different verses every month till December. This year’s selections will be from political poems.

Greek political poetry set to music is the theme of an evening at the Athens Concert Hall on Thursday. Maria Farandouri and Zacharias Karounis, accompanied by an eight-piece orchestra, will sing, and actors Eva Kotamanidou and Nikos Bousdoukos will read. Giorgos Papadakis has selected and orchestrated excerpts from Euripides, as well as pieces by Yiannis Ritsos, Odysseas Elytis, Nikos Gatsos and Iakovos Kambanellis and others, with music by composers such Eleni Karaindrou, Manos Hadjidakis, Mikis Theodorakis and Thanos Mikroutsikos. Vassilis Nikolaidis will conduct.

Poet Nikiforos Vrettakos is the subject of a tribute starting 5.30 p.m. at the Benaki Museum on International Poetry Day. Academics Eratosthennis Kapsomenou, Vincenzo Rotolo, Vangelis Athanassopoulos, poet Titos Patrikios and Vrettakos Archive director Eleni Tzinieri-Tzanetakou will speak, followed by the first public screening of Athanasia Drakopoulou’s film “Periousaka Stihiea” at 8.30 p.m. at the Benaki Museum Pireos Annex, 138 Pireos Street and Andronikou Street, Athens, tel 210 3453111.

An exhibition of first editions, and documents for the Nikiforos Vrettakos Archive opens Friday and runs to April 20 at the main branch of the Benaki Museum, 1 Koumbari Street, Kolonaki, Athens, tel 210 3671000.

Have you got an eye for lyrics? March 12, 2008

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A Cypriot musician who has reached the finals of the biggest songwriting competitions in the world has called on the island’s music industry to show more interest in the urban scene.

Lyrical Eye, whose real name is Stefan Eliades, started performing at venues around Cyprus at the age of 16. With live performances on national television and radio play on major stations in the UK and Cyprus, he has tirelessly continued his work. The 24-year-old has given performances at the biggest venues around Cyprus, from urban hip-hop clubs to Universities to New Year’s Eve national celebrations in the heart of the capital in front of thousands.

He entered the 2006-2007 Great American Song Contest with a song called ‘Bounce’, featuring Kyri, which he wrote and described as, “a club and R&B track”. ‘Bounce’ came first out of a total of 7,000 entries in the hip-hop/R&B category for this contest.

“In the song, I introduced myself and what I’m all about to a wider audience,” Lyrical Eye explained. “I was surprised but very proud and excited to have won.”

His success continued soon afterwards at the International Songwriting Competition, which is considered the biggest competition of its kind in the world, featuring judges including the presidents of most major labels such as Sony, EMI, Violator, Universal and guest judges such as Run DMC, Sean Paul and Macy Gray.

This time, ‘Bounce’ made it to the final 15 out of an original entry of 15,000 songs, with the judges saying they liked the song’s attitude and the way that it was easy to dance to. In the latest edition of the competition this year, Lyrical Eye was at it again with a new song called ‘Want It’, which has also made it to the final 15.

After many years of hard work trying to get his name out, the artist got his first big opportunity to represent at the biggest hip-hop festival in Europe during the summer of 2006 called the Hip Hop Kemp, attended by over 20,000 people. He also performed a 45-minute showcase of his work last year at the world-renowned Popkomm Festival in Berlin.

“You can see the difference when you perform abroad,” he joked. “You can feel much more of a vibe from the crowd, which is very passionate and knowledgeable” he said. “Unfortunately, the media here on the island aren’t really aware of these events so I haven’t received the recognition that I wanted,” he said. “It’s a big achievement for a songwriter from Cyprus to have done so well, but for whatever reason, there haven’t been any headlines about it.”

Over the past three years, Lyrical Eye has been working on his first solo album, which should be released this summer, along with a video of his new single called ‘Star Struck’. He also took the opportunity to thank Cypriot rapper John Wu for his support. “We are planning to release a Greek single and video, featuring Mario Mental from Larnaca called ‘Oloi Ta Xeria Psila,’ in the next couple of months.”

So where did his great love of music come from? “As a child growing up, I would constantly try to perform in front of family and friends and for me, music is a great way to express myself,” he said. “The positive feedback that I would get gave me the inspiration to take it to the next level.”

According to Lyrical Eye, a lot of practice is required in order to write good lyrics. “You need to play around a lot with words. For example, I have 200 potential songs just lying around as I’m not satisfied with the lyrics and, or, the beat. My advice is never rush to release anything if it’s not ready and it’s also very important to get feedback from knowledgeable people in order to improve.”

When asked what it is about urban music that attracts him, Lyrical Eye said he “likes lyrics that make you think and which describe a story that somebody has lived which is a reality. Nevertheless, I don’t only like urban music but will also listen to jazz, soul and anything that stands out, regardless of the genre.”

Eliades was also asked about the origins of his stage name. “When I was young, I used to read a lot of conspiracy and spirituality books and one of the topics which stuck in my mind was about a so-called third eye, which acts like a person’s sixth sense. From that concept, Lyrical Eye was born.”

In the future, he said he hopes that Cypriot promoters, clubs and radio stations, “will show more interest in the whole urban music scene and take us more seriously. I’m currently talking with a lot of international record labels and A&R departments which will hopefully give me a chance to promote my work on more of a global scale.”

Related Links > www.myspace.com/lyrikaleye

Pink Floyd to play the Nicosia wall? March 10, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life, Music Life Greek, Music Life Live Gigs.
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Please read the just updated post regarding the Pink Floyd’s forthcoming live concert in Nicosia, Cyprus >

 https://grhomeboy.wordpress.com/2008/02/25/pink-floyd-live-in-nicosia-cyprus/

American jazz in Nicosia March 10, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Music Life Greek.
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The Chris Byers Jazz Quartet are performing a concert in Nicosia on Tuesday March 11.

The U.S. Embassy and the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture are presenting the Chris Byars Jazz Quartet at a concert in Nicosia on Tuesday night.

The performance is part of the ‘Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad Programme’, administered by the United States Department of State and Jazz at Lincoln Centre. As part of the programme, the Byars Quartet is currently on a 29-day tour to Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Montenegro and Slovenia.

Tuesday’s performance takes place at the ARTE Cultural Centre on Leonidou Street in Nicosia at 8pm.