The Federation of Hellenic Societies with the Omonia Cretan Society and actress Angelika Sandora presented a special theatrical event at the Stathakion Cultural Center in Astoria on Sunday. The evening began with Sandora’s lyrical performance of Nikos Kazantzakis’ philosophical essay The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises. The emotional impact of the piece was highlighted by Sandora’s moving delivery of Kazantzakis’ powerful words.
Kazantzakis is perhaps best known as the author of the novel Zorba the Greek, but he also wrote plays, poetry, philosophical works, journalistic pieces, and travel memoirs. President of the Federation of Hellenic Societies Petros Galatoulas observed that, “In addition to Kazantzakis’ world fame, I wanted to acknowledge that he is not only a Greek author, but recognize him as a true Cretan.” Before the performance, he said, “We are very excited about this project and we’re especially eager to collaborate with Ms. Sandora on this unique piece of Cretan literature. We know only few, very strong actors could handle such a task. Her background in theater as well as her extensive knowledge and expertise in philosophy, makes us confident that the presentation of Mr. Kazantzakis’ masterpiece to the public will be a great success.” The linguistic genius of Kazantzakis was portrayed vividly by Sandora, strengthened by her background in philosophy. The actress, playwright, and philosophy teacher studied philosophy at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and has a master’s degree in Socratic philosophy from the University of Leeds in the UK. The layered performance of this iconic work by Kazantzakis was imbued by the intellectual dedication of Sandora.
The event continued with the enchanting music of Crete as performed by Christos Fasarakis on the Cretan lyra and Gregory Manouselis on the Cretan laouto. Fasarakis sang, as well as played, the delightful songs of Crete. With agile hands, the musicians enraptured the audience who clapped along to the beat of the music. They were joined for a brief interval by Sophia Kokonas, a Greek-American actress and singer originally from Chicago. The infectious rhythm of the music was impressive. At the conclusion of the evening’s performance, Federation President Galatoulas spoke eloquently about the importance of such events and supporting the artistic expression of young artists in the community who are so dedicated to tradition and so proud of their cultural heritage. He mentioned how much he loved Erotokritos, the Cretan romantic verse epic, a portion of which was performed by Fasarakis and Manouselis at the event. Focusing on the themes of love, honor, friendship, bravery and courage, Erotokritos is a masterpiece of Cretan culture. Among those attending the event were several members of the Omonia Cretan Society and an enthusiastic crowd. An upcoming event on May 19 was also mentioned which will feature Cretan musicians, including Fasarakis and Manouselis, as well as renowned singer and lute soloist Michalis Tzouganakis, performing to raise funds for a family in need. The Cretan Musicians of New York and New Jersey, in affiliation with The Cretan Sisterhood of New York and The United Cretan Cultural Committee of New York and New Jersey are holding the philanthropic concert at the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows Park.