ASTORIA – The Pancyprian Choir of NY presented its annual Christmas Concert Kalanta under the direction of Phyto Stratis and shared the spirit of the Christmas season at the Church of St. Catherine and St. George in Astoria on December 13.
The event opened with a poem recited by Vicky Tsavalias and the Cypriot kalanta sung by Demetris Michael.
Gifted musicians Glafkos Kontemeniotis on piano and Ellie Tsachtani on flute accompanied the Choir and the soloists, including Michael, Ariadne Panagopoulou, Aggeliki Psonis, and Louis Panayiotou, in the charming and soulful concert which touched the hearts of all those present.
The Choir opened with the traditional Greek Christmas carols, ta kalanta, and then performed Ave Maria, followed by the Christmas hymns, as well as other Christmas favorites including Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Oh Holy Night. The Carol of the Bells with Greek lyrics included references to the churches in the occupied areas of Cyprus and in Asia Minor and Pontus. Stratis’ arrangements of the well-known songs added a vibrant aspect to the concert.
The children of St. Demetrios Elementary School also participated in the concert, adding their youthful voices and energy to the performance of Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, among other Christmas and New Year’s carols. Santa Claus made his annual appearance at the concert and handed out gifts to all the children.
Among those present were His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, Dean of St. Demetrios Cathedral in Astoria Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, Consul General of Cyprus in New York Alexis Phedonos-Vadet and his wife Melina, Pancyprian President Philip Christopher, Federation of Cypriot American Organizations President Kyriacos Papastylianou, St. Demetrios Cathedral Parish Council President Emmanuel Dritsas, and St. Demetrios Elementary School Principal Betsy Sideris, as well as many members of the community.
Stratis thanked all those present for their continuing support, including Christopher and Pancyprian Cultural Division President Ismini Michaels, and welcomed Archbishop Elpidophoros, at the conclusion of the concert, saying that “we are very happy to be here today because we were looking forward to singing for you.”
Archbishop Elpidophoros said that “Christmas is a children’s holiday because God becomes a child, he is born. And without children, Christmas is not Christmas. And without the joy of children, Christmas is not beautiful. Santa Claus is next to me. As long as there are children, there will be Santa Claus.”
Pancyprian President Philip Christopher thanked Stratis, the Choir, and the children of St. Demetrios who participated in the concert and said, “They gave us so much joy. The Pancyprian Association of America was founded 45 years ago after the tragedy of the invasion of Cyprus. All of our divisions, our choir, our soccer teams, the women’s division, are all fighting for one thing: freedom. Always remember that we are fighting for the freedom of Cyprus.”
After the concert, many audience members congratulated the members of the Choir and requested more songs, perhaps for next year. A reception with festive Christmas cookies and other traditional snacks followed the concert in the church hall.