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Culture

Pancyprian Choir Spring Concert- A Moving Tribute to Mikis Theodorakis

ASTORIA – The Pancyprian Association Cultural Division presented the Pancyprian Choir of New York and its soloists with Artistic and Musical Director Phyto Stratis in the Annual Family Spring Concert, A Tribute to Mikis Theodorakis- Xrysoprasino Fyllo – Gold Green Leaf, on May 22, at the Archdiocesan Hellenic Cultural Center in Astoria.

Featuring beloved classics by the late legendary Greek composer, the event was held under the auspices of the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations (FCAO) and the Consulate General of the Republic of Cyprus in New York. His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, Consul General of Cyprus in New York Michalis Firillas, and FCAO Vice President of Culture Despina Axiotakis were among those present for the tribute.

Originally planned in honor of Theodorakis’ 95th birthday in 2020, the concert was postponed due to the pandemic, though rehearsals continued throughout the lockdown via Zoom. After Theodorakis passed away at the age of 96 on September 2, 2021, the Choir was determined to present the concert as a tribute to his extraordinary life and music.

Once in-person rehearsals could resume, the Choir began the preparations for its annual Christmas Concert which was held with great success at St. Catherine and St. George Church on December 18. The Choir then returned to rehearsing for the Theodorakis tribute concert as well as the annual EOKA commemoration which took place on April 3.

Pancyprian Association Cultural Division presents the Pancyprian Choir of New York and its soloists with Artistic and Musical Director Phyto Stratis in the Annual Family Spring Concert, A Tribute to Mikis Theodorakis- Xrysoprasino Fyllo, on May 22. Photo: Pancyprian Association Cultural Division

Audience members enjoyed the emotionally moving concert by the Choir and its gifted soloists along with the special guest soloists and talented cellist Diana Golden adding a soulful quality to several songs. The program included the classics Tis Dikeosinis, Ena to Helidoni, and, of course, Xrysoprasino Fyllo (‘Gold Green Leaf’) which was performed as the concert’s grand finale and in honor of Consul General Konstantinos Koutras who will be closing out his tenure soon and moving on to his next diplomatic post. In his introduction to the song, Choir Artistic and Musical Director Phyto Stratis addressed Consul General Koutras directly, wishing him the best and hoping that whenever he hears the song in future, he will think back fondly on his time in New York and especially remember the community in Astoria that was honored to share so many events with him.

The concert began with Me to Lychno tou Astrou performed by the soloists and then the Choir took to the stage for a dynamic performance of Tis Agapis Aimata. The well-known Theodorakis songs followed with the Choir joined by the gifted soloists Demetris Michael, Ariadne Anna, Tasos Karydis, Nektarios Antoniou, Vanessa Karvelis, and Theodore Petropoulos in Stratis’ vibrant arrangements. Solos by Aggeliki Psoni, Alexandra Skendrou, Olga Xanthopoulou, and Antoniou also impressed the audience.

In the tradition of the Pancyprian Choir, theatrical elements added wit and also a depth of emotion to the songs, especially in the charming Margarita Margaro, performed by Petropoulos, Karvelis, and Skendrou, and the stirring Dromoi Palioi with Giorgos Georgiades and Popi Michalatos and their compelling opening solos highlighting the ongoing struggle for justice for Cyprus.

Stratis then introduced Pancyprian Association President Philip Christopher who congratulated him and the Choir, noting that the members are all volunteers. He acknowledged that Cultural Division President Ismini Michaels was missed at this concert, but she is on the mend and wished her all the best for a speedy recovery and to see her performing with the Choir again soon. Christopher also noted that the Pancyprian Association began shortly after the illegal invasion of Cyprus and all its Divisions will continue their efforts to see Cyprus is free.

Archbishop Elpidophoros, Consul General Koutras, and Consul General Firillas also congratulated the Choir and Stratis in their respective remarks.

Attendees all looked forward to the next concert.

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