FLUSHING, NY – The Nisyrian Society of New York, on the occasion of the community’s annual celebration of Greek letters and in support of its schools, presented a concert of the work of the great Modern Greek poets century that has been set to music by renowned Hellenic composers
The moving event that packed the Sarantakos Hall of the Michelis Cultural Center of the Church of St. Nicholas in Flushing featured Grigoris Maninakis and the Mikrokosmos Ensemble, who were joined by singer Makaria Psiliteli-Kazakos and the choirs of the schools of St. Demetrios Cathedral of Astoria and St. Nicholas.
Athena Krommydas, the principal of St. Nicholas’ William Spiropoulos day school, welcomed and thanked guests and offered brief but inspiring introductions of the poets, who included including, Riga Feraios, Kostas Varnalis, Odysseus Elitis, George Seferis, Giannis Ritsos , Nikos Gatsos and Vitsentzos Cornaros. Stelios Taketzis, best known as a Cosmos-FM producer and presenter, recited excerpts from their writing
The evening’s theme was set by Krommydas, who intoned “Eν αρχη ην ο Λογος – In the beginning was the Word” from the prologue of the Gospel of John. The phrase symbolized the main elements of the program: celebrating and endeavoring to strengthen Greek education in America, especially the night’s two highlighted schools, and the enjoyment of the “words” of the great poets of the Hellenes.
Maninakis’ fans look forward to his concerts’ dramatic openings.
On Sunday the music was preceded with the recital of the opening of Nikos Gatsos’ “Toutos o topos – This Place,” with an instrumental drone in the background and the stage bathed in soft light slowly shifting from violet to gold to green to blue to fiery orange.
Taketzis’ words melted into Maninakis’ lyrics, which were set to music by Stavros Xarhakos.
“The poem expresses the beauty of Greece not descriptively, but poetically,” Maninakis told TNH.
Maninakis and Psiliteli Kazakos shared the vocals with the school choirs.
Sarantakos hall has excellent acoustics and the guests enjoyed the music and the commentary. They were often invited to clap and sing along and the poignant rendering of Thn Romiosini min tin kles – Don’t cry for Byzantium,” which closed the performance, brought tears to some eyes, and its martial beat prompting many to stand and clap.
Krommydas thanked the Nisyrian Society, its president, Yiannis Constantinides, its board and its members and expressed her appreciation to the sponsors, including Alma Bank, Maninkis and Mikrokosmos. And she thanked the students who participated, reading aloud all their names.
Maninakis named the musicians, Spiros Arnakis, Kostas Psaras, Panagiotis Andreou, Glafkos Kontemeniotis and Megan Gould.
Constantinides spoke on behalf of the Society and spoke in praise of the Greek language. “If we remove all the Greek words from the dictionaries of other nations,” they would be impoverished. “Greek is the foundation of fields like rhetoric, philosophy and science, and our language can only be cultivated in our schools…that is why we are obligated to support them…if the language dies, our heritage dies. One the purpose of this even is to send a warning,” he said.
The Society, along with other groups they reached out to, made donations to both schools.
A separate group of students from its Greek Saturday afternoon school – which has operated free of charge since the 1970s – sang the national anthems.
Very Rev. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, Dean of St. Demetrios Cathedral, represented the clergy of both communities. He told TNH he considers the event a pioneering effort on the part of the Nisyrians that he hopes inspires other organizations to work to strengthen our schools, “which is something we must take more seriously, not because these are our institutions, but because it is about our identity,” he said.
Thomas Kazakos told TNH “It was an excellent concert. It was fantastic to hear the children’s choirs and Maninakis and Makaria always remind us of Greece. It was very touching, reminding us of our youth.
George Kitsios told TNH “I thank and congratulate Grigoris Maninakis and Athena Krommydas and Evangelos Haziroglou and Areti Giovannou,” the music teachers at St. Demetrios and St. Nicholas respectively.
Asked how he felt about it, Nick Andriotes told TNH “It’s not about what I felt, but what the audience experienced. I continue to be touched after all these years, but what is most moving is that there are people who are working to continue the endeavor and understand that the maintenance of our language requires a lot of work. It is unacceptable that a language that endured for 4000 years should disappear in a country like America where there is freedom and all the prerequisites for its continuation.”
The post Nisyrian Society Celebrates Greek Letters with Great Music at Sarantakos Hall appeared first on The National Herald.Source: The National Herald