CULTURE

A night at the Megaron for the new EU presidency

When Nikos Skalkottas composed his «Five Greek Dances» he could not have known that in addition to memorable music, he was also giving his homeland a cultural weapon which rivets the listener. That is what happened on Thursday evening at the Athens Concert Hall, where, at the invitation of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his wife Daphne, Box No. 8 held the creme de la creme of the European Union, led by European Commission President Romano Prodi with some commissioners from the member states, such as Anna Diamantopoulou, flanking the hosts of the Greek presidency. Premier Simitis, Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis welcomed the guests to the Athens Concert Hall. It was a friendly Greek welcome to the European family, which Greece joined in 1979, when then Prime Minister – later to become president – Constantine Karamanlis signed the accession agreement. Among these waiting in the concert hall were opposition leader Costas Karamanlis, his beautiful wife Natasa, Parliamentary Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, members of the Cabinet, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni, her father, honorary New Democracy President Constantine Mitsotakis, Athens 2004 chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, and notables from the world of banking and the arts. State-run ERT had the privilege of setting up its cameras inside the concert hall, while the private television channels were crowded outside for moments which have already been shown, such as when Prodi kissed Daphne Simiti’s hand in a courtly fashion. The celebrities filed into Box 8, where they were met by Athens Concert Hall President Christos Lambrakis. The program included works by Skalkottas, Mendelssohn and Brahms. Leonidas Kavakos was the solo violinist, and James Conlon conducted the EU Youth Orchestra – five members of which are Greek – to great applause.