NEW YORK – A light but refreshing breeze accompanied the performance of pianist Athena Adamopoulos on May 2. The windows of the Greek Consulate were symbolic of the open hearts of the Greek-Americans who gathered both listen to a gifted young musician, and to raise funds for ”Mazi gia to pedi – Together, for the child” a umbrella organization of 10 children’s charities in Greece.
The carefully chosen program delighted from start to finish. The first half began with Ludwig v. Beethoven’s Sonata No. 17, its sweet, lyrical moments were interspersed with furious passages.
The pieces that followed evoked a range of human emotions, which could often be read on Athena’s youthful and expressive face, but it is never long before the seriousness of her musical endeavors become clear to her audiences.
Frederic Chopin’s Nocturne No. 19 in e minor evoked both the artistic and the emotional meaning of the word “romantic” with passages that felt like the memories of a lost love, runs of little kisses…and then they were gone.
At times swaying, her hair bouncing, she veritably danced her way through Franz Schubert’s charming Hungarian Melody, D. 817.
There was another passionate Beethoven, Sonata No. 14, but she saved some fireworks for Claude Debussy’s Children’s Corner, which closed the first half of the program.
As the guests continued their intermission chatting they were called back to their seats by opening notes of the medley of Greek songs arranged by Miss Adamopoulos. She quietly slipped back into the room and sat down again at the shimmering ebony Steinway, a gift to the Consulate from the Niarchos Foundation, and played a soulful “Sagapo giati eisai wraia.”
A beautiful stylized rendition of “Theos an Einai” followed.
The music of Mikis Theodorakis was represented by “Ena to Helidoni,” which Adamopoulos skillfully melded into his “Tis Dikeosinis Ilios Noite.”
She performed one of her own compositions – one of her very first from her childhood – which she called the music of a seven year-old with a 27 year old’s twist – though she properly called it an inversion.
During a pause between pieces, a guest’s cell phone crashed the party, but Adamopoulos did not skip the beat, picking up the tune where the phone left off, spicing up a delicious evening with laughter.
The evening began with a reception and the guests were greeted on behalf of the Athenians’ Society, which organized the event by Panos Adamopoulos, its president – and Athena’s father. He thanked Greece’s consul General, George Iliopoulos and his wife Anthousa, for hosting the concert, and spoke about human toll of the Greek crisis and how the Society has helped to date.
Those who could not fit into the intimate space also made pledges, and Panos Adamopoulos told TNH $20,000 was been raised so far. The guests were very pleased to learn from him that the Greek Parliament had finally passed legislation to make charitable contributions tax exempt, an act that should catalyze even more diaspora aid for the homeland.
Anthousa Iliopoulos, with her husband at her side, then welcomed everyone into their home and spoke about Mazi gia to Pedi. She shared the advice of a friend about confronting the crisis: “You can’t eliminate poverty, but you can help one person at a time,” and then thanked the Society and the Adamopoulos family. The artist’s mother Sylvia and her brother Constantine were also there, filled, like her father, with admiration for the results of the years of hard work that commenced in childhood and will soon culminate in a Ph.D. from the New England Conservatory of Music.
But Athena’s life is not all art. Like her parents, she is dedicated to philanthropic work. “To support Mazi Gia to Pedi in any way I can is something I must do. I could not pass it up. It’s a noble cause and the situation in Greece is dire, especially for needy children.”
The guests were happy for the beautiful opportunity to give and receive on a lovely night in spring.