Letter to the Editor: Music Concert or Bouzoukia?

I recently attended what I thought would be a music concert by a well-known Greek artist, I won’t say which one, suffice it to say that the event was not advertised in The National Herald, but it made me wonder why do these “producers” go to so much trouble to bring these incredibly talented singers to the United States and then expose them to complete disrespect in venues like catering halls where everyone is eating, drinking, and talking all through the night, mostly ignoring the performer on stage.

If the event is promoted as a concert, it should be a concert, not a dinner-dance or a sad imitation of a mediocre reception for a christening. I understood that the event was a benefit to raise money for a church, of which I am not a member, though some of my friends are, so the $125 ticket price was fine.

When I arrived and went to my assigned table, the three or four women seated at the head of the table treated me and my three friends very rudely, saying that they had six more friends coming and the seats were saved, suggesting we had made a mistake and pushing us to the far end of the table. Where was the famous Greek hospitality from these church-going ladies? I tried to be nice about it and even checked again in case I had misheard the table number the lady at the check-in desk gave me, but she confirmed that was the right table and there were plenty of seats for everyone. By the time food and drinks were being brought around, the noise level just from the people talking was already at a high level. I assumed once the first singer, a talented young lady from Greece, started singing, an hour and a half after the doors opened, they would stop talking, but they did not. The chatter lasted all night, even when the featured artist appeared and addressed the crowd, it was like no one even cared that he was there and that each person had paid to see him perform. From my seat, I could barely see the stage, and then when people started climbing on the stage to dance next to the singer and the band, I couldn’t see anything. Where was the respect for the artist, for the highly trained musicians, or even for the other audience members who came to hear the music, not a sing-a-long with the crowd?

I did not pay to see drunk audience members climb on stage and demonstrate how badly they dance while the poor musicians are trying to perform or to take selfies with the singer in the middle of a song, or to watch people lighting up cigars and cigarettes, puffing away in clear violation of the anti-smoking laws, while renowned artists are trying to breath and sing just inches away.

From what I could see, the musicians did not mind, but they should. It shows such a lack of respect for their years and years of training and hard work that I can’t imagine they earn enough money during “tours” such as these to justify subjecting themselves to what I view as abuse.

I am glad the event was not advertised in TNH, it probably saved many more music fans from the frustration of trying to hear their favorite singer over all the chaos. I’m sure many people there had a wonderful time, letting their hair down and making fools of themselves, grown men at an advanced age climbing on tables and dancing, but don’t call this a concert. If people want the bouzoukia or skiladika, that’s fine, just don’t pretend anyone will be able to hear the music or appreciate it. Next time, I will avoid any “concerts” that are not held in an actual concert venue. Lesson learned.

Hermione Papantoniou

New York, NY

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