ATHENS – With the Greek capital enduring 2019’s first cold snap, hot music was on tap when the Jazz Chronicles series of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SFNCC) presented the sizzling violinist Maria Manousaki and her quartet in Athens on January 5.
The venue with panoramic views of Attika called The Lighthouse atop the SNFCC was packed with a standing room only crowd of jazz enthusiasts and fans of Manousaki, who has often performed in Greece, where she shares her time – mainly in her beloved Crete – while also living in New York.
With the lighting shifting with the musical mood from red to mauve to blue, the Quartet delighted the audience with pieces from Manousaki’s 2018 album – Hidden Trails (Κρυμμένα Μονοπάτια) which was written in Greece and the United States, and her upcoming CD.
Beginning by setting a warm and sultry tone for the evening on the low notes of her violin, Manousaki’s colleagues were equally scintillating with Kristjan Randalu on Piano, Michael Evdemon on bass, and Bodek Jankes on percussion. Guest performer, Armenian musician Tigran Sargsyan, spiced up the offerings on ney and duduk, ancient recorder-like and reed instruments, respectively – indeed Manousaki as composer is a master chef, blending tone color after color and beating the mix with rhythms that complemented one another whether originating in Crete or the various birthplaces of American jazz.
SNFCC events are inspired by its vision statement: “In 2006, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (www.SNF.org) announced its plans to fund the development of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), a project that includes the construction and complete outfitting of new facilities for the National Library of Greece (NLG) and the Greek National Opera (GNO), as well as the creation of the 210,000 m² Stavros Niarchos Park.
“Education and culture are the backbone of any advanced society. In funding the SNFCC, the Foundation’s vision is to provide the country and the city with the new institutional foundations it needs to move forward and with a framework for the future. Education, culture and sustainability, the SNFCC’s three main elements, are essential requirements in enhancing the potential of the city and its people and placing them within a twenty first century global context.”
2019 at SNFCC has begun with a rich and varied array of activities, performances, and exhibits for children and adults alike presented from morning through evening. Visitors to Athens throughout the year will want include a visit to the dazzling cultural center designed by renowned international architect Renzo Piano surrounded by parks, a canal, and an esplanade leading to the coast. Visit snfcc.org.