NEW YORK – Enthusiastic and emotional was the tribute to Thanos Mikroutsikos presented by the Greek Cultural Center (GCC) on March 2, at the famous Symphony Space in Manhattan.
The absence of the distinguished music composer due to health concerns and his recorded message touched the Greek community members who ignored the storm and filled the theater.
The tribute included short videos by supporters of the concert and the GCC, including The National Herald and actors and those who for 44 years supported the GCC and enabled it to be a workshop in which three generations of Greek expatriates promote modern Greek-American culture.
The choir of the St. Demetrios School Astoria, under the direction of Evangelos Chaziroglou, stole the show.
The audience was impressed by the GCC orchestra, under the direction of Costas Baltazanis, along with the artistic director Thymios Papadopoulos, as well as the distinguished singers Rita Antonopoulou and Miltos Paschalidis.
Thymios Papadopoulos, who is not just a talented music composer, but also a gifted musician, wowed the audience by playing six different wind instruments and for his interaction on stage with the singers and the rest of the orchestra.
Although they only had two days to rehearse, the musicians performed remarkably well together. And as the GCC President Iraklis Kremmidas pointed out to TNH, “they all wanted to present Thanos Mikroutsikos’ artistic creation as if it were Thanos himself on the piano and conducting.”
For example, when Paschalidis presented the orchestra, he praised Costas Baltazanis on the guitar, Angelos Papadatos on the bass, Kostas Psaros on the bouzouki, George Maniatis on the drums, and Areti Giovanos, who, as he pointed out, managed to fill Mikroutsikos’ shoes of Thanos.
The GCC celebrates its 44th anniversary this year, GCC Vice President Eleni Drivas noted in her speech, adding that this tribute is the seventh organized by the GCC.
Drivas made special mention of the efforts for young artists, giving them the opportunity to fulfill their dreams and among other things pointed out that inviting children’s choirs to concerts was also a small example of GCC’s efforts for the younger generation.
Kremmidas noted that the GCC is “dedicated to the crazy dreams that help us resist assimilation and continue to maintain our own culture.”
He then invited Papadopoulos to receive an honorary plaque that the GCC awarded to Mikroutsikos.
The song, Gie mou pou pas? Mana tha pao sta karavia (My son, where are you going? Mother, I will go to the ships), which Mikroutsikos himself had interpreted was then performed.
The audience was moved by the video message by Mikroutsikos and his reference to the GCC. He said, “The Greek Cultural Center is doing its job and we must all help it continue. Within the modern barbarism of Greek culture, Greek song is the best defense. Our music and language. Our culture and history, our course in time, a people without language and art are doomed to oblivion.
“Friends, thank you all from the bottom of my heart that you are today at this event and I wish you all the best and above all not stop dreaming. No matter how bad our times are, we all have to believe that we can change things, that we can improve our lives. If life is worth it, it is worth serving great dreams for those we love, but also for the whole world,” Mikroutsikos concluded.