ASTORIA – The Pancyprian Association of America Cultural Division presented the Annual Christmas Concert “Kalanta” with Artistic and Music Director Phyto Stratis and the Pancyprian Choir of NY at St. Catherine and St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Astoria on December 14. The well-attended event filled everyone’s heart with the Christmas spirit and impressed the audience once again with the talents of the Pancyprian Choir.
Among the talented featured soloists, Ellie Tsachtani on the flute brought her expertise and virtuosity to beloved Christmas songs, including Feliz Navidad and A La Nanita Nana, adding a depth and lyricism through her artistry. Her solo vocals to begin the hymn I Parthenos Simeron, also impressed the audience with her clear tone and demonstrated her mastery of a variety of musical styles and genres. Tsachtani earned Bachelor degrees with full tuition scholarship from Bard College and a Masters from Queens College. She performs in every Pancyprian Choir event and her leading role in the performance once again highlighted her extraordinary abilities as a musician.
MC Vicky Tsavalias gave the welcoming remarks and Artistic and Music Director Phyto Stratis led the choir in the traditional Kalanta to kick off the performance. Soloist Demetris Michael sang Christos Gennate Doxasate, among the other songs, with his impeccable technique. On guitar, Vanessa Karvelis, also a soloist on vocals, offered an enchanting What Child Is This? while narrators Theodore Petropoulos and Christiana Kandilioti provided poetic insights between songs.
Stratis’ new version of the Carol of the Bells with lyrics he also wrote was magical and highlighted his great talent not only in musical arrangement but also as a lyricist.
Soloists Penny Tsinias, Ariadne Panagopoulou, Aggeliki Psonis, Tasos Karydis, Demetris Bonaros, and Eliam Ramos each brought their unmistakeable vocal talents to the performance with fine accompaniment by Glafkos Kontemeniotis on piano. Oh Holy Night and Silent Night both in Greek and English were among the highlights of the concert.
The Pancyprian Choir Youth Group and students from St. Demetrios Elementary School also joined the performers onstage along with a special guest from the North Pole, Santa Claus, whose presence immediately drew smiles from the many youngsters in the audience.
Stratis noted that Christmas is all about the children and invited everyone to sing along for the traditional New Year’s Carols, among other songs, which added to the festive mood of the concert. Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas were sung with considerable cheer and enthusiasm by the choir and the audience alike.
At the conclusion of the concert, Stratis thanked all those present for their support especially Pancyprian benefactor Philip Christopher, American Network Solutions CEO, and PSEKA (Justice for Cyprus) President and invited him to say a few words. Christopher thanked everyone for their support and especially Stratis and Pancyprian Choir President Ismene Michaels and the members for all their efforts, as well as Consul General of Cyprus in New York Alexis Phedonos-Vadet for attending the event. He pointed out that 38 percent of Cyprus still remains under occupation and 500 churches have been desecrated since the 1974 invasion. The voices of the Pancyprian Choir represent all of Cyprus, free and occupied, Christopher said and wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
A reception in the church hall followed the concert.