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Agnes Baltsa reunites with Stavros Xarchakos April 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek.
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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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Exploring gender issues at Bios April 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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An intriguing festival organized by the Goethe institutes of Southeastern Europe comes to Athens > Berliner Joy Gutthardt’s performances explore stereotypes of the female gender. The artist is one of many German performers who will be coming to Athens for the Genderpop festival this week.

An unusual festival featuring cinema, performance art, video installations, live music shows and contemporary dance kicked off at downtown Bios yesterday. What brings all the different artistic genres together? A look at the role of the sexes and people’s identity.

The series of events comes as an initiative of the Goethe Institutes based in Southeastern Europe, the cultural centers are currently approaching the issue of gender, participating in a contemporary and global discussion on the socially predetermined, fabricated and stereotyped roles of the sexes.

Many are already acquainted with so-called gender studies, in the last few decades alone, they have made their presence increasingly felt in university programs around the world. Perhaps those familiar with these developments on the academic front will have a clearer picture of what lies ahead at Bios this week.

They may have also heard of Judith Butler, the American writer and professor at California’s Berkeley, author of “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.” Published in 1990, the book examined the notion of sex as a role. A feminist, Butler put forward the idea that a person’s sex identity has to do with specific moments and actions, she called it gender performativity. Difficult ideas to deal with back then, and not much has changed.

Don’t worry about the academic aspect however when it comes to the Bios events this week. The festival kicked off with a screening of Athanasios Karanikolas’s “S” and continues with short films shot by Jan Kruger between 2000 and 2007, along with a collection of films by Ula Stokl and Edgar Reitz from 1970.

Besides cinema, Genderpop, the three-day program starts in the Bios foyer on Friday, featuring art and music videos, performances, concerts and DJ sets. Among the guests is Berliner Joy Gutthardt, an actress whose performances explore the stereotypes of the female gender, Berlin singer Namosh, as well as female trio Rhythm King & Her Friends. All in all an intriguing group of artists taking over the downtown space this week.

Bios Venue, 84 Pireos Street, Athens.

Related Links >  www.goethe/de/athen

Olympic Flame handed to China amid protests March 31, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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31-03-08_flame1.jpg  Actress Maria Nafpliotou in the role of a high priestess holds the torch next to the altar with the Olympic Flame during the handover ceremony at a stadium in Athens yesterday. More than 2,000 uniformed and plainclothes police were deployed in the capital at the weekend to ensure the smooth handover of the flame.

31-03-08_flame2.jpg  Greek officials handed over the Olympic Flame to organizers of the Beijing Games yesterday amid minor protests by a pro-Tibetan group. The ceremony was held at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympics were staged in 1896.

31-03-08_flame3.jpg  Hundreds of police lined the flame’s route, scores of security vehicles followed the torch-bearers and helicopters hovered overhead, the strictest security measures since torch relays were launched at the 1936 Berlin Games.

31-03-08_flame4.jpg  “In 130 days the 2008 Beijing Olympics begin. We and the other nations of the world look forward to this moment,” said Beijing Games organizing chief Liu Qi before accepting the flame. The Games run from August 8 to 24.

31-03-08_flame5.jpg  Protesters holding Tibetan flags and shouting “Free Tibet” and “China out of Tibet” failed to break through the police cordon and get to the final torch-bearer entering the stadium. Police detained 21 Greeks and foreigners for staging the protests but said they would be released later. Several others were moved away from police cordons.

31-03-08_flame6.jpg  Thousands of Greek and Chinese spectators inside the stadium watched as Greek triple jumper Chrysopigi Devetzi carried the torch into the stadium lined with Greek and Chinese flags. Greek Presidential Guards and actresses dressed as ancient priestesses looked on. On Saturday and Sunday, about 2,000 police were deployed around Athens.

31-03-08_flame7.jpg  The torch will be officially welcomed in China today before beginning a worldwide relay, the longest ever, 130 days and covering 137,000 kilometers. Most of it will be on Chinese soil.

Olympic Flame handed over to China > photo gallery II March 30, 2008

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30-03-08_flame8.jpg  Greek actress Maria Nafpliotou in the role of the high priestess lights the altar with the Olympic flame at Athen’s Panathinaic Stadium, 30 March 2008, during the handover ceremony.

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30-03-08_flame10.jpg  The altar with the Olympic Flame is seen during the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame to China for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, at the Athens Panathinaic Stadium, 30 March 2008. 

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30-03-08_flame12.jpg  The cauldron with the Olympic flame burns as spectators watch at Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium on Sunday, March 30, 2008. The flame was handed over to the 2008 Beijing Olympics organizers.

30-03-08_flame13.jpg  President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Minos Kyriakou, handed over the Olympic Flame to Beijings’s Organizing Committee.

Olympic Flame handed over to China > photo gallery I March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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30-03-08_flame1.jpg  Mayor of Marathonas Spiros Zagaris (left) kindles a torch from the Olympic flame basin during the sixth day of the torch relay of the Beijing Olympic Games in Marathonas of Greece, March 29, 2008.

30-03-08_flame2.jpg  The altar with the Olympic Flame is seen at the Athens Acropolis, 29 March 2008. More than 2,000 uniformed and undercover police have been deployed in the Greek capital to secure the official handover of the Olympic flame, which arrived on the ancient Acropolis in Athens yesterday, ending the Greek leg of the torch relay before being flown to China.

30-03-08_flame3.jpg  Entrance to the Athens Panathinaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games were held.

30-03-08_flame4.jpg  Torchbearer Greek Olympic silver medalist Chrysopygi Devetzi holds the torch with the Olympic Flame at Athens Panathinaic Stadium during the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame to China for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, 30 March 2008.

30-03-08_flame5.jpg  Torchbearer Greek Olympic silver medalist Chrysopygi Devetzi holds the torch with the Olympic Flame at Athens Panathinaic Stadium, 30 March 2008.

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Olympic Flame handed over to China March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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Thousands of spectators gathered in Athens for Sunday’s handover ceremony of the Olympic flame to organizers of the Beijing Games.

30-03-08_panathinaic_stadium.jpg  The Olympic Flame has been officially handed over to Chinese officials. The ceremony took place at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, amid tight security. It comes as demonstrations continue in numerous countries over China’s deadly crackdown on protesters in Tibet. On Saturday EU Foreign Ministers agreed on a joint response. The bloc called for an end to violence and urged China to hold talks on Tibetan cultural and religious rights.

However, the Ministers avoided any mention of the Beijing Olympics or calls for EU countries to boycott the opening ceremony in Beijing. A small group of pro-Tibet activists tried to stop the flame from reaching the stadium but were held back by police. Demonstrations were also held in other parts of Athens.

30-03-08_athens_torch1.jpg  Thousands of Greek and Chinese spectators cheered as Greek triple jumper Hrysopigi Devetzi carried the torch into the stadium, lined with the flags of both countries.

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30-03-08_athens_torch3.jpg  Greek Presidential Guards and actresses dressed as ancient priestesses looked on.

“It was an emotional experience for me,” Devetzi said. “I hope the flame will bring light to all athletes, especially those from Greece and that everything with the Games goes well.”

The President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Minos Kyriakou, delivered the flame to chief Beijing organizer Liu Qi. The torch later left Athens on a specially equipped Air China flight expected to arrive in Beijing on Monday.

Witnesses say the protesters, waving Tibetan flags and chanting anti-Chinese slogans, were arrested in Athens Sunday while trying to break through police lines to stop a runner carrying the torch from reaching the handover site. Hundreds of Greek police officers were on alert, after sporadic protests last week along the torch relay route from ancient Olympia.

The torch will be flown from Athens to Beijing, where runners will carry it across much of the world in the run-up to the August Summer Games. Pro-Tibetan activists have vowed to shadow the torch on its journey. On one leg of the route, the torch is set to pass through Tibet on its way to Mt. Everest. Human rights groups are demanding a ban on that part of the journey, until Beijing agrees to permit an international investigation of the Tibetan unrest.

More photos from today’s ceremony follow shortly. Stay tuned!

An all-puppet version of “The Sound of Music” March 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Stage & Theater.
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The von Trapp family singers as marionettes in “The Sound of Music”, the world’s oldest marionette theater, is coming to Athens next week

Finally, great entertainment for the family: The Salzburg Marionettes will be presenting the true story of the von Trapp family of singers in an all-puppet version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music”.

The company is the biggest and oldest marionette theater in the world, founded in Salzburg, Austria by sculptor Anton Aicher in 1913, and now directed by his granddaughter Gretel. The company gives 160 performances a year of classics such as “The Magic Flute”, “Tales of Hoffmann” and Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

“The Sound of Music”, adapted from the 1965 film starring Julie Andrews, premiered on November 2, 2007, in Dallas, Texas, at the beginning of a five-week US tour. In Athens, there will be five performances, beginning on 4, 5 and 6  April at the ACS Theater in Halandri, Athens, organized by Maria Frezadou. 

Frezadou was also responsible for bringing Mikhail Gorbachev to Athens, as well as Umberto Eco, Marlon Brando, Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli and Placido Domingo. Part of the proceeds will be donated toward Special Olympics Hellas. Performances will have Greek supertitles.

ACS Theater, 53 Garyttou Street, Halandri, Athens, tel 210 639334. For information and tickets call 210 7234567.