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Orpheus Foundation Presented ‘New York Sings Polys Kyriacou’ on June 2

NEW YORK – The Orpheus Foundation for Greek Music and the Arts, under the auspices of the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations (FCAO) and the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus – PSEKA, presents the concert ‘New York Sings Polys Kyriacou – Apo tin Keryneia os ta Diodia’ on June 2 at Merkin Hall at the Kaufmann Music Center in Manhattan.

Kyriacou is perhaps best known for his lyrics set to music by many famous Greek composers, such as Yannis Makopoulos, Pantelis Thalassinos, George Andreou, and Miltos Pashalides, among many others.

The artists who performed in the concert included Eleni Andreou, Elena Chris, Anthoula Katsimatides, Nikos Kouroupakis, Grigoris Maninakis, Deodoros Pagoudis, Tasos Papaioannou, and Makaria Psiliteli, each giving their distinctive stamp to the songs on the program.

Polys Kyriacou at the podium with the young singer Alexander Kelepouris, at right, and the concert’s musical director Aretis Giovanou at the keyboard, at left. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

Areti Giovanou was the music director and also performed on keyboard, while the orchestrations for the concert were by Fotis Mousoulides.

The talented musicians included David Ashton on woodwinds, Renos Efthymiou on percussion, Leonidas Eracleous on bouzouki, Marina Fragoulis on violin, Angelos Papadatos on bass, Michaella Shamillis on violincello, and Kostas Tsoukalas on guitar.

The concert opened with welcoming remarks by Anthoula Katsimatides and the song ‘Yiati M’Aresei i Zoi’ sung by Alexander Kelepouris, a young student, who received a warm round of applause for his performance.

Polys Kyriacou then shared his remarks, thanking all those present for attending and for their support, noting his longstanding connection to the city and to the diaspora community. As noted in his biography, Kyriacou, a Nicosia native, “has a passion for promoting the Greek language and Hellenic culture through poetry, the arts and music.”

The concert continued with the vocalists offering their unique interpretations of several poetic songs, many of which were inspired by the experience of living abroad, while the actors, Katsimatides and Pagoudis, gave dramatic readings of various poems by Kyriacou who also read some his own poems, and introduced the song ‘Anthoula’ with lyrics written for Katsimatides after 9/11. He noted that he was inspired by her great inner strength amidst the struggles she faced.

The artists performing in the concert titled ‘New York Sings Polys Kyriacou – Apo tin Keryneia os ta Diodia’ on June 2 at Merkin Hall at the Kaufmann Music Center in Manhattan. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

Kyriacou also shared a poem inspired by the three cities, Lefkosia, Athens, and New York, that have been so pivotal in his life, and dedicated it to Philip Christopher and Fanny Petallides-Holliday.

A few new pieces debuted during the concert, including a piece by the young bouzouki player Leonidas Eracleous which impressed the audience and singer Nikos Kouroupakis’ new song, titled ‘Den Peirazei’ which he wrote about three months ago, setting to music lyrics which Kyriacou had sent him about a year ago, he noted in his introduction to the song.

Tasos Papaioannou performed a powerful, new song composed by Phyto Stratis, who was among those present. The moving piece, titled ‘Patrida’, highlighted the Pancyprian Choir Artistic and Musical Director’s great talent as a composer and received thunderous applause from the audience. Following the concert, many congratulated Stratis for his work, looking forward to many more compositions as well as the upcoming Pancyprian Choir concert on Sunday, June 4.

Federation of Cypriot American Organizations President Kyriacos Papastylianou at the podium giving his remarks following the concert ‘New York Sings Polys Kyriacou – Apo tin Keryneia os ta Diodia’ on June 2. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

The concert concluded with songs sung by all the artists together and with remarks by Katsimatides who thanked the musicians and everyone for their presence and support. She then introduced FCAO President Kyriacos Papastylianou and PSEKA President Philip Christopher to give their remarks.

Papastylianou thanked Kyriacou for his efforts promoting Cyprus and Hellenism and thanked all those for attending, noting that their participation makes all such events possible.

Christopher pointed out that next month is the commemoration of 49 years since the illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus, “many people are tired, many people are disappointed, many people are frustrated, but the fact that we are all here today, it’s very, very important to all of us.”

“The fact that Polys came from Cyprus to inspire us with his songs and with his lyrics is very important,” Christopher continued. “Every day this community makes us proud, I see many members of the parade committee here, on April 30 when I saw all those people march in the rain and wind, 150 participants, organizations, groups, churches, it’s something [that shows] that the spirit of Hellenism is so important here in New York.”

“So regardless of what happens, we are here tonight not only for Polys… we are here because we believe in Hellenism, in the Hellenic values, in the Hellenic ideals, and I don’t care how many years pass, we will continue to fight, the work goes on, the hope endures, and the dream of returning to Keryneia will never die,” Christopher concluded.

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