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Greek soprano soloist Juliet Papadopoulos, at left, during the North American premiere of Theophanes the Greek by composer Savvas Karantzias. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)
NEW YORK – Originally scheduled for 2020 but delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, ‘Theophanes the Greek’ by composer Savvas Karantzias made its North American debut as part of ‘The Sounds of the Saints’ concert series on November 9 at New York City’s famous Peter Norton Symphony Space.
Rhodes-native Karantzias was in attendance from Greece for the premiere as the renowned Archdiocesan Cathedral Choir, Youth Choir and Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Costas Tsourakis performed his evocative work beautifully. To properly bring the oratorio to life, the concert featured the impressive Greek soprano soloist Juliet Papadopoulos, dazzling the audience with her powerful, clear-toned voice.
Anthoula Katsimatides, who gave the welcoming remarks at the concert and served as the narrator of this remarkable work, shared insights into the life and times of Theophanes, one of the greatest Byzantine iconographers of all time.
Karantzias’ moving work with its profoundly spiritual quality was received with enthusiastic applause from the appreciative audience which was transported to the world of Theophanes through the emotionally-charged music.
“This is a perfect musical highlight of one of the greatest Byzantine iconographers in the cultural capital of the world- New York City,” said Maestro Tsourakis. “The magnificent voices of the choirs and orchestra will truly resonate as sounds of the saints, an appropriate continuation of the Centennial Celebration of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.”
Along with the high patronage of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, who was among those present, the concert also took place under the auspices of the Consulate of Greece in New York. Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Konstantinou and his wife were in attendance as well, along with head of the Municipal Sports Culture Organization of Rhodes Nancy Tryposkoufi, Dean of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity Fr. Chrysostomos Gilbert, Diane Kochilas, chef, cookbook author, and host of My Greek Table with Diane Kochilas on PBS, Founding & Artistic Director of Schola Cantorum Nektarios S. Antoniou, Pan-Rhodian Society Apollon of New York President Nikos Kartalis, and Federation of Dodecanese Societies of America Secretary Adamantia Mari.
His Eminence spoke at the conclusion of the concert, congratulating the composer Karantzias, Maestro Tsourakis, and all the talented artists for their efforts, noting that the concert, “gifted us with a portrait of one of the greatest of all iconographers of the 2,000-year history of the Holy Orthodox Church.”
“In his life, Theophanes the Greek used colors, shapes, form, and vision to arose the spiritual aspirations in the human soul, and tonight, it is as if all… of his artistic genius has been transmuted into sound and voice,” said Archbishop Elpidophoros. “What a wonderful offering you have made Maestro Karatzias to the world and to us who are privileged to be here in this symphonic space tonight. I also would like to congratulate Maestro Costas Tsourakis, the Cathedral Music Director, and all the musicians and singers here present for a truly magnificent performance of this aesthetic jewel.”
Proceeds of the ticket sales benefit the Archdiocesan Cathedral Choir and Youth Choir international concert tour.
Karantzias’ oratorio ‘Theophanes the Greek,’ a musical biography of the legendary Byzantine iconographer has now been presented on four continents following its initial premiere in Rhodes, Greece, the birthplace of the composer. More information about Karatzias is available online: savvaskarantzias.com.
About the Archdiocesan Cathedral Choir, Youth Choir, and Orchestra
Under the direction of Maestro Costas Tsourakis, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is known internationally for its magnificent choir and music program. The choir has sung religious services with Patriarchs, Archbishops and ecumenical leaders, as well as for United States presidents and dignitaries from around the world. Its popular concert series Great Music under a Byzantine Dome features a diverse selection of programs every year, consisting of music from the sacred Orthodox tradition, the Greek folk and popular traditions, Western classical and musical theater repertoire. To learn more, visit archcathedralchoir.com
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