The tribute concert to the late Greek composer Dinos Constantinides was held on October 10 in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Photo: DCINY, Dan Wright Photography
NEW YORK – Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) presented a concert tribute to the late Greek composer Dinos Constantinides on October 10 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York. The evening included selections of Greek-inspired music by the prolific Constantinides who passed away on July 20, 2021 at the age of 92.
The performers – Athanasios Zervas on alto saxophone, Christopher Lowry on viola, Nathan Carterette on piano, Caio Diniz on cello, Kurt Nikkanen on violin, Maria Asteriadou on piano, Perla Fernández on violin, and Mireille López also on violin – delighted the audience with their skillful playing in an impressive range of works by the late composer. From later career pieces featuring Greek themes to works inspired by Beethoven and Brahms written when he was a 17-year-old music student in Athens, the program highlighted Constantinides’ remarkable life and career through his music.
Zervas, who opened the concert with Fantasia for solo saxophone, also gave the welcoming remarks, noting that Constantinides was not only a great musician, composer, and academic, but also a great man – and the evening’s concert was a tribute to him through music. He offered greetings to Constantinides’ widow, Judy, and daughter, Dr. Helen Constantinides, who were present at the concert as well. Zervas added that Constantinides loved the United States, but he always had his homeland of Greece in his heart.
Following intermission, Nikkanen addressed the audience, mentioning that the violin he was playing belonged to Constantinides and that “Dinos must have had the sound of this violin in his ear” when he wrote the music for violin and piano that Nikkanen and Asteriadou performed in the concert. The husband and wife musicians impressed the audience with their dynamic rendition of Constantinides’ works.
Constantinides was born in Ioannina, Greece, on May 10, 1929 to Demetrios and Magdalini. His father Demetrios played folk tunes by ear on the violin in his native village of Marmara, according to the biography in the concert program which added that Constantinides later said that “after so many years, I remember the way he was making music and I look to the sounds he used to make… and they are used in abundance in my musical compositions.”
After hearing the Sonata in E minor for violin and piano by Corelli on the radio in 1940, Constantinides decided “that my life would be music.” He received diplomas in Theory and Violin at the Greek Conservatory in Athens, Greece, and a diploma in Violin at Juilliard School. He received his Master’s Degree in Music from Indiana University and his PhD in Composition from Michigan State University. He has also studied at Brandeis University, Meadowmount School of Music, and the Athens Conservatory.
Constantinides studied violin with Dorothy Delay, Ivan Galamian, and Josef Gingold and played violin in the State Orchestra in Athens for 10 years. Since 1967, Constantinides taught at Louisiana State University (LSU), and received the Boyd Professorship of Composition there in 1986. He also directed the University’s New Music Festival and the Louisiana Sinfonietta. At LSU, he was a member of the Festival Arts Trio.
In addition to performing as a violin soloist with orchestras in the United States. and Europe, he gave numerous recitals as both a soloist and composer at prestigious venues such as Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and Alice Tully Hall. An LSU professor for 55 years, Constantinides never retired.
As a composer, he received First Prizes in the Delius Composition Contest, the L’Ensemble Competition of New York, the National Brooklyn College Chamber Opera Competition, and the First Midwest Chamber Opera Theatre Conference. He also won 23 consecutive ASCAP Standard Awards in Serious Composition. Among his 230 compositions, Constantinides wrote six symphonies and the opera, Antigone.
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