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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.


Greek President and the Olympic Flame March 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Olympic Games, Shows & Conferences.
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This evening, President of the Hellenic Republic H.E. Karolos Papoulias, will be attending a ceremony at the Athens Concert Hall to mark the beginning of an international conference by the Athens Academy’s Center for Research into Greek Folk Art, to mark its 90th anniversary.

The subject of the conference is “Traditional Music and Modern Creativity”.

Tomorrow afternoon, the President will be at the Panathenaic Stadium for the handing over of the Olympic Flame to the organizers of the Beijing Olympics.

Dance seedlings flower on stage March 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Ballet Dance Opera.
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27-03-08_ndt.jpg  Dance magic. Jiri Kylian’s “Toss of a Dice”. Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon’s “Silent Screen”. The Nederlands Danse Theater at the Athens Concert Hall for performances on 27, 28, 29 and 30 March at 21:oo hours.

A dozen dancers gaze into space while their bodies stand motionless like Japanese symbols on stage. Susumu Shingu’s striking sculpture is suspended from the roof, conveying the feeling that we are facing the dancers of the future. That is choreographer Jiri Kylian’s «Toss of a Dice», but he has more surprises in store. The famous Nederlands Danse Theater is set to present a highly interesting program at the Athens Concert Hall until Sunday, starting tonight. The Dutch company, one of the world’s most acclaimed and popular dance ensembles, will perform choreographies by Kylian as well as by his younger colleagues Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon.

The Nederlands Danse Theater, especially its main section, NDT I, has visited Athens in the past. This week, local audiences will be able to enjoy its new face, meaning its new generation of dancers.

The program features two choreographies, one by Lightfoot and Leon and another by Kylian. Both premiered in the Hague in April 2005. Earlier in the season they had been forced to cancel a big tour in the Far East. To have an unpredictable, mid-season change is a nightmare for any artistic director; but on the other hand it can provide opportunities. So they decided to give their main choreographers an extended period of time, which in turn led to the program that it will be staged in Athens.

Lightfoot and Leon’s «Silent Screen» is inspired by silent cinema. Although there is no specific plot, the choreography is like a narrative. The music is by Philip Glass. As for Jiri Kylian, his work in general is inspired by Japanese culture. «Toss of a Dice» is no exception – here Kylian worked with Japanese artist Susumu Shingu, whose sculpture features prominently on the sets and has a direct influence on the stage and the dancers’ relationship with it.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali Street and Vasilissis Sophias Avenue, Athens.

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.

MoMA Director visiting Greece for series of lectures March 16, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Museums.
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Director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, Glenn Lowry, will visit Greece for the first time and address public audiences in Athens and Thessaloniki as part of the “Great Ideas” series.

Featured in the Megaron Plus series, he will speak at the Athens Concert Hall on Monday, March 17, at 19:00, on “Making the Modern: A Disruptive Theory of the Museum of Modern Art.” His lecture will focus on how the Museum has dealt with the collection and display of artworks, the way in which it periodically reinvents itself, and the changing nature of contemporary art.

On Wednesday, March 19, at 18:30, he will speak in Thessaloniki on the same topic. This event is co-organized with the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry and will take place at the Chamber’s Conference Hall.

During his visit to Greece, Lowry will also address student audiences at the University of Athens School of Fine Arts and the Thessaloniki Aristotle University School of Fine Arts.

Lowry was appointed Director of MoMA in 1995. One of his initiatives was the construction of MoMA’s new building, which was completed in 2004, and was a turning point in the history of the Museum and a major cultural event for the city of New York.

The goal of the “Great Ideas” series is to bring noted American experts and artists to Greece to perform and discuss current topics of interest to the Greek and American people.

Glenn Lowry, MoMA, Making the Modern: A Disruptive Theory of the Museum of Modern Art >
Athens Concert Hall,
 1 Kokkali Street and Queen Sophia Avenue, Athens.
Conference Hall, Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 29 Tsimiski Street, Thessaloniki.

Related Links > www.moma.org

Nicolas Kynaston recital at the Megaron tonight March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Music Life Classical.
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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.

Agnes Baltsa to perform Rossini at the Megaron March 14, 2008

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“L’Italiana in Algeri” opens tomorrow at the Athens Concert Hall’s Alexandra Trianti Hall

At the Athens Concert Hall, Gioachino Rossini’s “L’Italiana in Algeri” has been revived by Diana Kienast, based on a landmark 1987 mise en scene by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle.

This year is a landmark for the famous Greek mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa as it marks an anniversary: In 1968, she made her first appearance as Cherubino in Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” at the Frankfurt Opera House. That was the beginning of a great career. Her collaborations with top maestro Herbert von Karajan, who described her as the greatest dramatic mezzo-soprano of her time, and her numerous performances of “Carmen”, mostly alongside Jose Carreras, are just some of her many great moments.

Baltsa has a special relationship with Gioachino Rossini’s opera buffs, having appeared in leading roles in his “Barber of Seville”, “La Cenerentola” and “L’Italiana in Algeri” – the latter of which she is preparing to perform at the Athens Concert Hall. Tomorrow, as well as on March 17, 19 and 21, the Alexandra Trianti Hall will host “L’Italiana in Algeri”, in a production in which Diana Kienast will revive Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s historical mise en scene. Ponnelle’s 1987 production featured Baltsa and Ruggero Raimondi in the leading roles under acclaimed maestro Claudio Abbado. Ponnelle also left his signature on the sets, lighting and the costumes, as the great artist viewed the staging of the famous opera as an entire work of art.

13-03-08_agnes_baltsa.jpg  “The role of Isabella is one of the greatest roles of my career” said Baltsa at a recent press conference. “But every time feels like the first time. It is like a wager with myself, to see how my voice has changed through the years. Rossini demands great vocal discipline”.

“L’Italiana in Algeri” premiered in Venice on May 22, 1813. It was the first opera, along with “Tancredi”, that earned Rossini international fame. Based on a libretto by Angelo Anelli, the opera follows Elvira’s romantic adventures at the palace of the Turkish Bey of Algiers. It has a craziness highly indicative of Rossini’s comic operas.

The Athens Concert Hall production will further feature baritone Lorenzo Regazzo, tenor Mario Zeffiri, baritone Renato Girolami and soprano Vassiliki Karayianni, who recently performed in Rossini’s “Le Compte Ory” with the Greek National Opera, among others. The Athens State Orchestra will participate, under the baton of Antonello Allemandi.

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

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