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Moving Concert Tribute to Great Greek Poets and Composers Impresses Audience (Vid & Pics)

NEW YORK – The Greek Cultural Center (GCC) presented a moving and entertaining concert tribute to the great Greek poets and composers featuring the gifted vocalists Vasilis Lekkas and Makaria Psiliteli and musician and Music Director Manolis Androulidakis on May 6 at Peter Norton Symphony Space in Manhattan. The concert also featured the participation of musicians from the Greek-American community and the students from the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in New York City and the William Spyropoulos School Choir from St. Nicholas in Flushing, NY.

GCC President Iraklis Kremmidas gave the welcoming remarks at the concert, thanking everyone for their presence and their continuing support of GCC over the 49 years since its founding. “We are honoring the poets who made our lives more beautiful, who turned the sun towards Greece, and we are honoring our great composers who made poetry into song and set it on the table with bread and wine,” Kremmidas said.

He then quoted Odysseas Elytis: “If you deconstruct Greece, you will in the end see an olive tree, a grapevine, and a boat remain. That is, with as much, you reconstruct her.”

Makaria Psiliteli, Vasilis Lekkas and Manolis Androulidakis take their bows at the conclusion of the concert. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

“In difficult times, we honor our poets and this is what we’re doing tonight, this is how we honor our culture,” Kremmidas noted and then thanked Lekkas and Androulidakis as well as Psiliteli, the musicians, and the youngsters of the Annunciation and St. Nicholas communities who “are the future.”

The concert included beloved songs with lyrics by the great Greek poets set to music by Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hatzidakis, Yannis Markopoulos, Stavros Xarchakos, Thanos Mikroutsikos, Haris Papadopoulos, and Notis Mavroudis, among others. Androulidakis on guitar performing an instrumental piece demonstrating his artistry and dexterity. Psilitelli then joined him onstage for a few solo pieces. She was then joined by Lekkas and the school choir, who charmed the audience with their performance. Lekkas also performed several well-known songs solo while also sharing his insights and wit with the audience in brief introductions to some of the pieces.

Greek Cultural Center President Iraklis Kremmidas gave the welcoming remarks at the concert on May 6. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

“These songs, through the great poets, such as Solomos, Ritsos, Gatsos, Elytis, all those we sing, in essence write this adventure story of our place. It is as if we see, through these songs, how strong and powerful our history is. That’s why when we take the stage we immediately look accomplished just because we perform these songs,” Lekkas noted.

He also noted the recent passing of some of the great composers, including Theodorakis in 2021, and Notis Mavroudis in January of this year in his remarks about ‘Proino Tsigaro’, a song by Mavroudis with lyrics by Alkis Alkaios written as tribute to another great composer Manos Loizos who sadly passed away at age 44 in 1982.

The students from the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in New York City and William Spyropoulos School Choir from St. Nicholas in Flushing, NY, joined Vasilis Lekkas and Makaria Psiliteli onstage for the finale of the concert tribute to the great Greek poets and composers on May 6 at Peter Norton Symphony Space in Manhattan. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

Also among the classic songs performed were ‘Mitera Megalopsyche’ by Markopoulos with lyrics from a poem by Greek national poet Dionysios Solomos, ’Vrehi sti Ftohogitonia’ by Theodorakis with lyrics by Tasos Livaditis, ‘Paraponemena Logia’ by Markopoulos with lyrics by Manos Eleftheriou, ‘Kemal’ by Hatzidakis with lyrics by Gatsos, and Rigas Feraios’ poem Thourios set to music by Christos Leontis and made famous by the late singer Nikos Xylouris. Lekkas said that these songs “bring the younger generations into contact with Greek history.”

The talented musicians who also performed were David Ashton on flute, clarinet, and saxophone, Areti Giovanou on piano and keyboards, Helias Makrynos on guitar, Chris Papadopoulos on bouzouki, Kostas Revelas on bouzouki, Michaella Shiamilis on violoncello, Steve Vavagiakis on percussion, and Erikos Vlesmas on bass.

Vasiliki Tsanaktsidou recited the poem by Iakovos Kambanellis which Theodorakis set to music in the song ‘O Antonis’, the second song of The Mauthausen Trilogy.

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