Phyto Stratis and Demetris Michael performing at the Pancyprian Choir dinner on June 5, among those present were Pancyprian Association President Philip Christopher and poet and lyricist Polys Kyriacou. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)
ASTORIA – Following their successful concert titled ‘Celebration’, the members of the Pancyprian Choir of New York with Artistic and Musical Director Phyto Stratis gathered for a dinner hosted by Pancyprian Association President Philip Christopher at Dionysos Restaurant in Astoria on June 5.
The Choir members enjoyed their dinner of various Greek and Cypriot specialties and also joined in singing along with the musician Dimitris Halaris who performed several Greek favorites throughout the evening. He invited Stratis to take over on the keyboards for a bit and the Choir members performed a few of the classic songs from the program of the previous day’s concert which highlighted the music of Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Loizos, and Stavros Xarhakos.
Pancyprian Cultural Division President Ismini Michaels in her remarks noted how much joy and pride she feels towards the Choir. She added that she enjoyed the dinner even more than performing onstage the day before and shared her appreciation for Stratis and his efforts which garnered a warm round of applause from all those present. Michaels also shared a few words of appreciation for Pancyprian President Philip Christopher, who also received a warm round of applause for his support and his ongoing efforts for the community.
In his remarks, Christopher noted how much he enjoyed the concert and the dinner with the Choir that evening and looked forward to the upcoming Manolis Mitsias concert at the Queens Theatre on Saturday, September 23, in which the Choir will appear at the request of Mitsias who will also be appearing in Boston following the New York concert. He pointed out his pride in the fact that the well-known Greek singer made the request following the great experience he had performing with the Choir at his previous concert at the Queens Theatre with Demetris Mpasis. Christopher also mentioned that it was a great year for the Choir and indeed for all the Pancyprian Divisions, especially the great championship season for the Athletic Division soccer teams. He thanked the Choir for the sacrifices they make to attend the rehearsals each week and also thanked Dionysos owner Skevi Roussopoulos for the dinner.
In his remarks, Stratis recalled how impressed Mitsias and Mpasis were with the Choir and how Mpasis was especially impressed with how the Choir performed throughout the concert without folders, something he had never seen before. “They must have a great ear or work very hard,” Mpasis commented at that time to Stratis who replied: “Both.”
Stratis also thanked all the members of the Choir, the amateur and professional singers, noting the root of the word amateur and the love of art, and how the songs that were performed in the concert are not operatic songs but popular ones, and even Theodorakis in his great work Axion Esti also had a mixed choir. He mentioned the upbeat songs of the concert, apart from the tribute to the late Andreas Modenos, adding that his family members shared many messages noting how much they enjoyed the concert.
Poly Kyriacou was also among those present at the concert and at the dinner and shared how moved he was, noting that the Pancyprian Association helped him with his tuition when he came to the U.S. to study. He congratulated Stratis and all the members of the Choir, pointing out that they are making a difference, doing something remarkable and should continue.
The event continued with more music by Halaras which kept the Choir members dancing well into the night.
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