NEW YORK – The new presentation space of the Onassis Cultural Center in New York was the perfect vessel for the intriguing collection of musical pieces assembled by composer Petros Klampanis for his new CD, Chroma – signifying purity or intensity of color – on December 9.
More than 200 music lovers surrounded the stage set in the round that formed a rich palette of musicians, each contributing his or her unique artistic hues and passion.
The talented musicians were thrilled to join Klampanis – who contributed on double bass –and play his compositions and arrangements. “I am very honored to play with these people and I would like to introduce them to you” – guitarist and composer Gilad Hekselman, pianist Shai Maestro, percussionist Keita Ogawa, Maria Manousaki, Gokce Erem, Megan Gould, and Migen Selmani on violin. Carrie Frey and Peter Kiral on viola and cellists Colin Stokes and Samuel Quiggins.
Suspended in their mist, physically reflecting the changing colors of light and mystically mirroring their music was an art installation by Eleni Kyrmizaki.Klampanis offered brief and tasteful occasional commentary.
The idea that inspired Chroma is that “every experience leaves and imprint in our souls – this is like a color and in that sense we are like a palette of experiences and colors,” he said.
“Chroma,” the piece created by Klampanis that inspired the program’s title, lived up to its promise of a rainbow of musical possibilities as sultry passages accented by exotic beats and streams of driving rhythms running with insistent strings danced around ethereal moments.
“Little Blue Sun,” composed by Klampanis followed. It was a cool bluesy sun that the audience felt at first, evocative more of Autumn in New York rather than beaches beneath the golden hot Grecian star, but that turned out to be the destination after passing through a lovely jazz evocation of “Thalasaki Mou – My Little Sea,” and the experience was transformed into memories of summer breezes, the blue draining from the sun to color the entire Aegean sky.
Mavrothi Kontanis’ participation constituted a double surprise – first his unannounced but welcome appearance, and second because he did not perform on his beloved oud. Rather, he provided the vocals for “Hariklaki,” whom violinist Maria Mansousaki – who was to have joined the ensemble but could not participate that night – has described as “that horrible girl.” The song is about a boy’s discovery that his girlfriend was a tramp, and never was she more elegantly dressed than with Kontanis’ heartfelt styling.
An intriguing Klampanis title is “Tough Decisions (Are Always Dark Green)”– perhaps because that’s the color of money in America one guest quipped.
One of the pieces was nicely reflected by Kyrmizakis’s artwork. After an ethereal beginning the rhythm and tonality began to dissolve and float away, only to be magically reassembled – like the sculpture of wire and little colored metallic leaves that arrived from Greece in pieces and separate envelopes, and which took 10 hours to assemble on the Onassis stage.
Petros Klampanis on the double bass.
Klampanis thanked the Onassis Foundation (USA), led by Executive
Director Amalia Kosmetatou, for its contributions to New York’s cultural life. He also expressed appreciation for its promotion of Greek artists and urged the community to support all its endeavors.
Klampanis grew up on Zakynthos. “It’s a very beautiful island and I am very proud of it,”he told the audience. According to the program “To pursue his musical passions he dropped out of the Polytechnic School in Athens and in 2005 he began his double bass performance studies at the Amsterdam Conservatory.