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Greek singer Iro performing with the CNY Vocal Ensemble under the direction of Phyto Stratis at the Mikis Theodorakis tribute concert at Carnegie Hall on September 24. Photo: by Grammaticus Macedon / Stageworks / Carnegie Hall
NEW YORK – The iconic Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis passed away September 2, 2021 and since that time, tributes in honor of his memory and his music have been held in Greece and the U.S., including the moving concert at the historic Carnegie Hall on September 24.
Titled Mikis Theodorakis: A Tribute to the Memory of the Composer of Zorba, the concert, produced and presented by Stageworks Entertainment Group with Lampros Ntinos as the executive producer, was held in memory of the prolific Greek composer, who was also a politician and a writer. His songs were performed not only by Greek artists but also by the Beatles, Shirley Bassey, Joan Baez, Edith Piaf, and many more internationally renowned musicians.
Theodorakis wrote symphonic works, operas, oratorios, music for plays, ballet, and movies including Michael Cacoyannis’ Zorba the Greek (1964) starring Anthony Quinn, Costa-Gavras’ Z (1969) which earned the composer a BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, and Serpico (1973) starring Al Pacino.
The talented performers included singers Kostas Makedonas, Iro, Babis Velissarios, Saveria Margiola, Angelos Theodorakis-Papangelidis (Theodorakis’ grandson), Lina Orfanos, and the CNY Vocal Ensemble with Director Phyto Stratis, along with the “Mikis Theodorakis” Popular Orchestra and Kostas Psaros on bouzouki. Athena Adamopoulos impressed the audience with her solo performance on piano to open the concert.
Popular Greek actor Haris Romas served as host for the event with his signature charm and later on in the program also sang, and danced, one of the famous Theodorakis songs, To Feggari Kanei Volta.
The CNY Vocal Ensemble made its Carnegie Hall debut in the concert, performing their first two songs Me to Lichno Tou Astrou and Chrysoprasino Fyllo on their own, under Stratis’ skillful direction. Chrysoprasino Fyllo was especially moving as it refers to Cyprus and opened with Ariadne Anna singing solo, then gradually joined by some of the other gifted soloists of the Ensemble including Nektarios Antoniou, Olga Xanthopoulou, Hilary Baboukis, Demetris Michael, and Costa Tsourakis. The Vocal Ensemble then joined Iro on Nyxta Magikia, Makedonas on Tis Xenitias, and Velissarios on Kaimos before the final two songs of the night, Arnisi and Tis Diakaiosinis, which were performed by all the artists along with an enthusiastic audience.
The wide range of Theodorakis’ compositions was evident in the many songs, 29 total, which were performed. From the more popular songs made famous by renowned singer Grigoris Bithikotsis such as Vrehei stin Ftohogitonia performed by Velissarios, to the aria Asma Asmaton from Theodorakis’ Mauthausen Trilogy performed by Orfanos, and the rousing Tha Simanoun i Kabanes performed by Makedonas.
Each of the soloists gave their own stamp to the well-known songs of Theodorakis while also honoring the late composer’s memory. For all of the artists making their Carnegie Hall debut in the tribute concert to Theodorakis, it was a profound honor as well as an exciting experience. All looked forward to future collaborations and to hopefully someday return to perform on the historic stage.
The Orchestra performed Thoeodorakis’ beloved Zorba as an instrumental with the audience clapping in time to the piece and then erupting in cheers and a standing ovation, seemingly to conclude the concert, as the artists began taking their bows and Mikis Theodorakis’ daughter joined the artists onstage. There were however, two more songs, Arnisi (also known as Sto Perigiali) and Tis Diakaiosinis, as the grand finale of the program.
The appreciation for the artists and the music was so great that some audience members pointed out that they did not even notice the time had passed in spite of the show running over two and half hours without intermission.
The concert was held under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Tourism and the Greek National Tourism Organization.
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