The Archdiocesan Cathedral Choir in conjunction with the Hellenic Book Club of New York presented The Poetry & Music of Mikis Theodorakis on May 13 at Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity’s Chiotes Hall. Photo: Eleni Sakellis
NEW YORK – The Archdiocesan Cathedral Choir in conjunction with the Hellenic Book Club of New York presented The Poetry & Music of Mikis Theodorakis on May 13 at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity-Chiotes Hall in Manhattan. The evening included some of Theodorakis’ most beloved songs, sung by members of the Archdiocesan Cathedral Choir, and featured renowned author and Theodorakis collaborator Gail Holst-Warhaft highlighting the influence of Theodorakis’ poetry on his music.
The talented vocalists from the Cathedral Choir including its director Costas Tsourakis, soprano Alexandra Skendrou, soprano Kristina Kaye, mezzo-soprano Hilary Baboukis, were accompanied by the gifted musicians Kostas Psarros on bouzouki, Megan Gould on violin, Dawn Helene on piano, and Steve Vavagiakis on percussion.
Skendrou, performing some of Theodorakis’ most moving songs, impressed the audience with her vocal range and interpretation. Baritone Tsourakis also performed with his usual artistry and skill alongside the choir members and musicians. A few member of the youth choir also joined in and charmed the audience as well.
Food and refreshments were provided for all those present and everyone was invited to sing along, adding even more of a festive quality to the evening.
Dean of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity Rev. Fr. Nikolas Karloutsos gave the welcoming remarks and thanked everyone for their presence. He then introduced Tsourakis who also thanked all those present for their support of the Cathedral Choir.
Hellenic Book Club Founder and President Jeannie Kouros then introduced Gail Holst-Warhaft who offered her thoughts and insights into Theodorakis and his music. She gave brief introductions to each song and English translations of the lyrics which are, of course, from renowned Greek poets including Iakovos Kambanellis, Giorgos Seferis, and Odysseas Elytis as well as Theodorakis himself. Holst-Warhaft had collaborated with Theodorakis on the book The House with the Scorpions and shared details about the famed composer’s character and history that added another level of interest to the event. The book is a bilingual edition and highlights a fine range of poetry by Theodorakis as well as the impressive translation by Holst-Warhaft, a gifted poet in her own right, who spent years working with the composer as a musician, biographer, and translator. Holst-Warhaft left her native Australia in 1965 and moved to Greece. In the 1970s, she performed as a keyboard player with Greece’s leading composers, including Theodorakis and Dionysios Savvopoulos. She is now Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Classics, Comparative Literature and Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. The book was also available for purchase along with other volumes by Holst-Warhaft at the conclusion of the event.
She noted that Theodorakis’ greatest contribution to Greek culture was setting Greek poetry to music and later praised the performers for their efforts.
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