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Culture

Pericles Kanaris Performed “Up for Air” Live in NYC

NEW YORK – Greek, New York-based composer and performer Pericles Kanaris returned to live performance for the first time after the pandemic with a powerful message in a concert on June 8 at the Peter Norton Symphony Space’s Leonard Nimoy Thalia in Manhattan. The title of the concert, Up for Air, signifies the vital need to reconnect with the community through music, after a long period of isolation.

As a composer and songwriter, Kanaris belongs to the Greek tradition of setting poetry to music which has its origins in the generation of mid-20th century Greece and the likes of composers Manos Hatzidakis and Mikis Theodorakis. His latest songs are composed with lyrics by a wide variety of poets from Constantine P. Cavafy and T.S Eliot to Manos Eleftheriou and the younger generation of Greek poets, as well as lyrics written by the composer himself in Greek, English, and French. The concert also included songs from other Greek and international artists who have inspired the composer over the years and were presented in his own, signature orchestration drawing enthusiastic applause from the audience.

Pericles Kanaris dedicated the concert on June 8 to outgoing Consul General of Greece in New York Dr. Konstantinos Koutras, left to right: Kanaris’ wife Anna Maria, Kanaris, Dr. Koutras, his wife Popita Pavli, and Evelyn Kanellea, Cultural Attache and Public Relations Officer at the Greek Consulate. Photo: TNH/ Christodoulos Athanasatos

“It was a strange feeling. It was as if I was entering a house where I had spent a great deal of time but had not visited for years. I will not hide it, we got used to some of the aspects of not performing live music during the pandemic – some psychological, some practical. Most of my band members also work on Broadway and were baptized by fire. I experienced it more intensely because I had a long time to live in this process. At the same time, of course, we were very happy about it. As time passed, this process became more and more familiar again,” Kanaris told The National Herald.

However, apart from the return to live performance, this concert also had the special element that it was dedicated to Consul General of Greece in New York Dr. Konstantinos Koutras, who will complete his term in August. Kanaris praised Dr. Koutras during the concert, while praising his special support for culture and artistic creativity.

“My decision to dedicate this concert to him came effortlessly as a combination of inspiration and gratitude, on the occasion of his imminent departure,” said Kanaris, who referred to his acquaintance with the consul general.

Pericles Kanaris performing in his concert Up for Air at Symphony Space in New York City on June 8. Photo: Peter Figetakis

“A few years ago, Consul General of Greece Dr. Konstantinos Koutras, invited me to a meeting. I was impressed by his willingness to explore ideas and possibilities for cultural events centered on the Consulate. In time, I found with great joy that the arts and letters remained unchanged at the top of the agenda of the Consul General and his staff. The Greek Consulate, a truly magnificent building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, opened its doors and, beyond being an administrative center, acquired a cultural character. A top honor for me was the invitation of Dr. Koutras to create and teach a university course that studies comparatively and interdepartmentally Rebetiko with the Blues,” said Kanaris, with the course being part of The Alexander S. Onassis Program in Hellenic Studies at NYU.

Kanaris was joined by his band which features some of New York’s finest musicians including Gary Schreiner (accordion, harmonica, keys), Richard Hammond (bass), Peter Douskalis (guitars, laouto, bouzouki), and Giancarlo DeTrizio (drums/percussion).

The concert was presented under the aegis of the Consulate General of Greece in New York.

Pericles Kanaris performing in his concert Up for Air at Symphony Space in New York City on June 8. Photo: Peter Figetakis

“For the fall, I am preparing more live shows, as well as recordings of new songs in the studio. At the same time, I have been working for a long time on a musical work that I aim to present at a premiere in June 2023, in New York. It is a special challenge for me because it will have new elements and new requirements in terms of my own creative process. I can’t wait to travel the whole route and to be able to share it soon,” concluded Kanaris.

More information about Pericles Kanaris is available on his website: http://www.pericleskanaris.com/.

Video of Pericles Kanaris performing live at the Summer Nostos Festival 2019 at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens is available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/2SuTJB1D7T8.

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