NEW YORK – The Pancyprian Association of America presented the legendary Michalis Violaris, the voice of Cypriot music and the father of the New Wave, in a sold-out concert at the Queens Theatre accompanied by vocalist Andriana Kollia and the Pancyprian Choir under the direction of Artistic and Music Director Phyto Stratis on October 13.
The audience was enchanted by the concert which featured a retrospective of Violaris’ over 50 years in music as he performed hits from throughout his career including his first hit Oulla Halalin Sou and his latest song Kyrie Eleison Papa Mou all of which he noted can be viewed on YouTube.
Videos looking back at his early years in Cyprus and his rise to fame were interspersed between the songs highlighting his remarkable career and the many fruitful collaborations with an impressive list of artists and composers, including Mimis Plessas and Yiannis Spanos.
The concert also showcased the talents of vocalist Kollia and the musicians George Salvanos on piano, George Politis on bass guitar, Michalis Giatrakis and Maria Giatrakis, (father and daughter) both on bouzouki.
During the concert, the musicians were joined by the gifted Ellie Tsachtani on flute and then later on by the Pancyprian Choir, directed by Stratis, to perform the moving To Spiti pou gennithika with lyrics from a poem by Kostis Palamas and music by Michalis Terzis, as well as songs made famous by Violaris with the singer himself and with Kollia. Soloists from the Choir Aggeliki Psonis and Louis Panagiotou sang the opening of To Spiti and Tsachtani’s solo flute added layers of meaning to the song.
Among the songs the Choir performed with Violaris were Varka Horis Pania, To Delfinokoritso, and following the presentation of plaques honoring Violaris and his accomplishments in music, the classic Cypriot songs, Tillirkotissa and Ta Rialia.
The enthusiastic applause of the audience led to one more song and the concert concluded with the well-known Palioi Dromoi composed by Mikis Theodorakis from his soundtrack for the 1973 film Serpico starring Al Pacino.
Pancyprian President Philip Christopher thanked everyone present for their support, noting that the show was sold out, and especially thanked Violaris for his music and longstanding career and efforts for Cyprus. Violaris is, of course, known for popularizing the use of the Cypriot dialect in popular Greek music while also bringing attention to the struggle for justice for Cyprus, Christopher pointed out. He also thanked Cyprus Society of Greater Philadelphia Executive Board President Georghia Kurnellas for bringing Violaris to the United States for the concerts this year, and all the sponsors who made the events in Philadelphia and in Queens such a great success.
New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides, the first Greek-Cypriot elected official in New York, also thanked Violaris for his contributions to music and culture and presented him with a proclamation from the City of New York. A representative from New York State Senator Michael Gianaris’ office presented proclamations from the State Senate and the Assembly also honoring Violaris. Federation of Cypriot American Organizations President and President of the Pancyprian Dance Division, Kyriacos Papastylianou in his remarks also thanked Violaris for his efforts which promote the Greek Cypriot music and culture.
Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus in New York Alexis Phedonos-Vadet was also among the speakers called up to the stage to offer their congratulations and thanks for the wonderful event. Consul of Greece Lana Zochiou echoed similar sentiments as well in her remarks adding her congratulations to the talented Artistic and Music Director of the Pancyprian Choir Phyto Stratis who she said has enriched the Greek community events with his efforts and with the Choir.
Pancyprian Cultural Division President Ismene Michaels presented Violaris with the Pancyprian Award for all his efforts for Cyprus and his contribution to music and culture.
Pancyprian President Philip Christopher then noted the upcoming Pancyprian events and encouraged everyone to attend.