ASTORIA – The Academy of Hellenic Paideia’s 4th Annual Timarete Hellenic Art Festival began on June 2 at the Stathakion Cultural Center in Astoria with the Pancyprian Choir under the direction of Phyto Stratis presenting songs and poems for two significant anniversaries of Cyprus: the 60 years since the Cyprus Liberation Struggle of 1955-1959 and the 45 years since the Turkish invasion.
“We started in 2016 and each year the festival includes various events. We try to offer culture so that when one hears the word festival they think more of art and culture than the typical sort of festivals today. Anyone who visits will have the opportunity to see a painting exhibition, a theatrical presentation, a music night, short films, a dance night.
It is important to stress that those who participate and organize the festival are all volunteers,” Demetra Varsami, the Academy’s founder and principal, told The National Herald.
The Timarete costs are covered by donations made by sponsors and the proceeds go to families who need help paying the tuition fees “because at the Academy of Hellenic Paideia the door is always open to any child who wants to learn the Greek language,” added Varsami.
A fairly high percentage of the festival’s revenue goes to the Hellenic Relief Foundation for children in Greece and specifically in support of a school in Thessaloniki where breakfast is provided to students. “We hope this year is the last year that this money is being sent to feed the children. We hope to send money for other purposes, cultural, visual arts,” said Varsami.
Among those present at the festival Consul General of Cyprus in New York Alexis Phedonos-Vadet, who said he was excited about the opening of the festival and the presence of the Pancyprian Choir.
Phyto Stratis, referring to the collaborations with the Academy of Hellenic Paideia, noted that “this year we are very happy to open the festival.”
The performance featured songs from the Choir’s recent production Fylakismena Mnimata-Imprisoned Graves as well as songs relating to the continuing struggle for justice for Cyprus and included a poem recited by Vicky Tsavalias, narration performed by Theodore Petropoulos, and Anna Tsoukala performing the song I Petra by Manos Hatzidakis. Tsoukala, Ariadne Panagopoulou, and Demetris Michael impressed the audience with their solos while the students from the Academy enchanted everyone as they joined the Choir onstage for the final two songs, Tis Diakeosinis and I Diki Mou I Patrida.
Following the performance, Varsami thanked everyone for their support and presented bouquets to Stratis and to Ismene Michaels, Pancyprian Cultural Division President. An award was also presented to Theodore Petropoulos who besides being a gifted actor and singer also teaches theater at the Academy.
Varsami also mentioned the upcoming events of the festival. On Tuesday, June 4, the Timarete Festival continued with the opening of the art exhibition curated by Antonia Papatzanaki at the Consulate General of Greece in New York. The exhibition is titled Inside, Outside and Beyond and will run until June 28.
On Sunday, June 9 at the Greek Cultural Center short films will be screened by the International Festival of Drama, while on Saturday, June 15 the Academy’s theatrical group will present the show Alalum directed by Ioanna Katsarou at the Archdiocesan Hellenic Cultural Center in Astoria.
The Timarete Festival closes on Sunday, June 16, back at the Stathakion Cultural Center, with a special evening of traditional Greek dances.
Entrance to the festival events is $ 20 except for the closing night which is free and open to the public.
More information is available online: http://www.timarete.com/
The Pancyprian Choir with Vicky Tsavalias at the microphone reciting a poem. Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej