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Culture

Sotos Kappas Shares His Pictorial Memoir of Concerts and Special Events

Memoirs often record the unique aspects of Greek-American history that might otherwise be lost. They can help us see how multifaceted the experience has been for the immigrants who came to the United States in search of a better future.

On Stage: A Memoir of Concerts, Special Events, and Friends by Sotos Kappas is more a photo album than a memoir as it includes more pages of photos than of text, but still highlights in the dedication and prologue the extraordinary journey the author took to achieve his personal American Dream.

Kappas begins at the beginning, noting that his father was from Smyrna and moved to Athens in August 1922. I His mother was from Solomos near Corinth and moved to Athens at a young age. The couple met in the Greek capital and married and raised their family of three children, including Sotos, his sister Filomena, and younger brother George. Kappas writes in the prologue: “The three of us siblings found ourselves in America through working scholarships. For inexplicable reasons, none of us ever returned to Greece. America became our new home.”

Kappas fell in love with the guitar at a very young age and eventually became a musician and then a concert producer. He includes brief glimpses into his years as a student in the United States, his first job experiences, and then his decision to move from New York to California in 1963 in search of a warmer climate and due to his fascination with Hollywood. His first foray into producing concerts began with an idea from a friend who interrupted Kappas’ playing a Manos Hadjidakis song on guitar with the exclamation: “Let’s bring Manos to Los Angeles!”

Kappas, along with a group of friends, set up an organization, The Hellenic Stage, to fundraise for the project and Hadjidakis performed two concerts in California. Titled ‘Song Cycles of Hadjidakis and Theodorakis,’ the first of the two concerts was held on June 6, 1971, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and the second one on June 10, 1971, at War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. The Hellenic Stage was short-lived as an organization, as Kappas notes in his prologue, but he went on to produce many more concerts and special cultural events featuring many of the best-known artists from Greece at the time.

The book includes a plethora of photos of artists and programs along with more personal snapshots of the author, family, and friends on their journey through life and as they brought music and culture to audiences so many thousands of miles from Greece. A treasure trove of historic photos, the book is a valuable resource for anyone with an interest in Greek music and the artists and producers who helped build a bridge from the United States to Greece to share the extraordinary music with not only the members of the Hellenic community but with everyone who appreciates great music.

Among the many artists included in the book, besides Hadjidakis and Theodorakis, are Maria Farantouri, George Dalaras, Yiannis Parios, Dimitra Galani, Glykeria, Marinella, Manolis Mitsias, Haris Alexiou, Mariza Koch and Yiannis Glezos.

On Stage: A Memoir of Concerts, Special Events, and Friends by Sotos Kappas is available by phone: 526-537-2896.

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