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Culture

Athens Megaron Concert Hall Presents Beethoven’s 9th for Christmas

ATHENS – The Megaron – Athens Concert Hall is presenting a series of concerts for the Christmas season and on Friday evening, December 17 presented the 9th Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven.

The featured singers were soprano Eleni Calenos – well known and beloved in New York’s Greek-American community, mezzo-soprano Barbara Kozelj, tenor Mario Zeffiri, and baritone Dimitris Tiliakos, who joined the ERT Choir and the Amadeus Choir from Nice, France. The Athens State Orchestra was led by the renowned Estonian conductor Mihkel Kütson.

The soloists for Beethoven’s 9th – soprano Eleni Calenos, in black gown, mezzo-soprano Barbara Kozelj, tenor Mario Zeffiri, and baritone Dimitris Tiliakos take their bows with Maestro Mihkel Kütson, far right – amid well-deserved applause at the Megaron in Athens. (Photo by TNH/ Constantine S. Sirigos)

In the Christian West certain signature pieces of music have come to be associated with the important dates on the ecclesiastical calendar – Bach’s Bass in B Minor for Easter, Handel’s Messiah at Christmas. Each nation in Europe – north, south, east, west, also has its own holiday favorites, the ‘kalanta’ being the beloved songs of Christmas and New Year’s in Greece. If there is one piece of music, however, that beautifully and powerfully conveys late December’s twin messages of ‘Joy’ and ‘peace on Earth and good will to all’ across the continent and all over the world, it is Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, known as the Ode To Joy because it concludes with a chorus and four featured singers joining the orchestra to present the poem of the same name by  Beethoven’s fellow German Romantic, poet Friedrich Schiller.

The Megaron’s magnificent main auditorium was filled to 80% capacity – the audience all wore masks and had to present proof of COVID vaccination – enjoying the music and the Christmas decorations. The front of the stage was festooned with festive poinsettias and in the lobbies were displayed delightful Christmas trees. The wonderful Marc Chagall painting in the delightful café area reminded New Yorkers of Lincoln Center

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