NEW YORK – Singer Lina Orfanos and composer Dimitris Maramis gave musical expression to the truth that the Mediterranean Sea may be the world’s greatest cultural incubator during the concert titled AY AMOR in the Metropolitan Room on December 28.
The vessels on the musical journey included love poems by Federico García Lorca, Pablo Neruda, Rubén Darío and C. P. Cavafy sung in Spanish, Greek, and English as set to brand new music by Maramis.
The music and the poetry inspired passionate moments by the singer and the instrumentalists alike, who were, as always, graciously introduced by Orfanos and included Sophia Anastasia on flute, Megan Gould on violin and Nicholas Tzavaras on Cello.
The combination of intellectual depth and passion common to many of the poems was illustrated by Orfanos’ third song, sung in
Spanish, of Lorca’s “Casida de la Rosa.”
was not intent on the dawn:
almost eternal on its stem,
it was intent on something else.
was not after knowledge or shadows:
the confines of flesh and dreams,
it was after something else.
was not intent on the rose.
Unmoving, against the sky,
it was intent on something else.
(Translation by Paul Archer.)
The evening’s highlight was the world premiere of Maramis’ setting of Constantine Cavafy’s poem Ithaca. Orfanos’ expressive soprano voice was matched by the haunting Arabic strains of Sophia Anastasia’s flute.
Orfanos was both excited and felt privileged to sing it, telling the audience, “The first time you do a song is awesome.”
The poem, whose essence is a paean to humble origins that launch us on a rich life journey, concludes:
“Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.”
(Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard.)
Passions old and new turned up in the delightful banter and commentary to which Orfanos’ fans look forward. The songs evoked memories of boyfriends past, but the artist transformed the pain into humorous riffs and poignant music.
El Amour by Pablo Neruda, which includes the line “I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where…” is one of 100 love poems for his wife Matilda – his third wife as Orfanos informed the guests. who laughed heartily.”
She explained that the poem “Amo, Amas – I Love, You Love ” by the Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario “is about universal harmony combined with burning desire,” and quipped: “That’s a nice trick,” as she referred to her Nicaraguan boyfriend.
Maramis followed with a dazzling improvisation that alternated playful and dramatic moments leading to a spectacular climax. Throughout the night he thrilled the audience with furious passages on the Yamaha.
Orfanos spoke of her appreciation for Lorca, whom she called “an amazing poet who thirsted for a deep song that goes to the soul things,” before singing his “La Noche – The Night,” which begins “A full moon, the night above the two of us/I began to cry and you were laughing.”
The Metropolitan Room dark and moody with black ceilings and walls, was the perfect setting for the songs. The acoustics and the sound engineering were excellent.
A CD is now available containing of much of the music that was performed.