NEW YORK – One of the most beautiful ways to say “eternal be the memory” of a departed loved one is to gather people to share in the things that made him happy on Earth.
The 2015 edition of the Dr. Nikitas Kessaris Series which featured a concert by Bianchi Musica at the Kimisis Church of the Hamptons June 20 was a celebration of the revered doctor’s life enjoyed by friends and family alike.
Admission was complimentary for the concert, which was held in the elegant and acoustically excellent Nicholas S. Zoullas Hellenic Center.
The music was followed by a Candlelight Dinner whose price of admission raised funds for the Kimisis parish and was an occasion for reminiscing about Dr. Kessaris – his wife Metaxia was among the guests –and fellowship.
Bianchi Musica is known for pushing the envelope for chamber music in private settings. Their urbanely romantic approach yields music that has been described as “drippingly beautiful, a romantic mixture of fairy dust and drama.”
The ensemble is led by award winning composer/pianist Pilley Bianchi.
“The concert was amazing,” said Dr. Lisa Liberatore, who is married to Kessaris’ son, Dr. Dimitri Kessaris. The latter welcomed the guests and thanked Father Alexander Karloutsos, Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Father Constantine Lazarakis, and especially Presbytera Xanthi Karloutsos.
“She did a lot to organize the event and make it so special,” said Liberatore. Paul Maus, the parish’s music director also contributed to the success of the event.
The Kessaris family and last year’s audience were so pleased with Bianchi’s 2014 presentation that they invited her back and gave her carte blanche on the program.
This year the ensemble was joined by a tenor, and also a 16-year-old singer who beautifully performed a Mozart piece. There was also a new violinist “who blew people away,” Liberatore told TNH.
“Classical music and music in general were among the loves of his life,” she said of Kessaris.
Reminiscing with TNH, she said, “He was a medical physicist and one of the smartest people I ever met. He could speak on any topic and he took the time to speak to you if you asked him a question – you felt there was no one else in the world when he spoke to you.”
Kessaris was born outside of Athens and came to the United States at the age of 20 as an undergraduate at Emory University in Atlanta, where he lived with distant cousins.
Before graduation, he returned for an arranged marriage. His wife grew up in the Athens suburb of Kifissia.
After he earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University they lived in Connecticut, and finally settled in Jackson Heights in Queens, NY.
At first his family honored Kessaris with traditional memorial services at the Hamptons Church, which the family considered a second home, “but after three years we wanted to do something special,” Liberatore said.
“We also wanted to give something to the parish that was always there for us, and to create a special day that would make us think about him, to remember all the good things he did, and to celebrate his life,” she added.
Dimitri and Lisa have two teenage sons, Alexander and Michael, who love classical music. Kessaris’ son George and his wife Erasmia were also present, along with their twins Metaxia and Nikita.
Liberatore selected the musicians – she knows Bianchi for 20 years, ever since the latter’s husband played keyboards for Alexander’s baptism. “I just told her to play beautiful music,” but she and the guests also appreciated her “out of the box” selections.