CULTURE

Petra Festival diversifies and goes international, 20 years on

Since its emergence two decades ago, the Petra Festival, organized by the Petroupolis municipality at its open-air theater in western Athens, has not only managed to carry on without interruption since 1983, but is still improving constantly, diversifying, and gaining maturity. This year, the summer-long event will be making its biggest leap forward to date by officially turning international. Renamed the International Petra Festival, the development will result in an increased number of productions, both Greek and foreign, to be held over a greater period of time, along with richer variety. The festival, which begins this week, will as of this season run throughout the year, with the frequency of events peaking during the summer months. Until now, it has run until late September. Highlighting its widening horizons, the festival will stage an International Percussion Festival for the first time since its launch. Scheduled for July 8 to 18, it will feature 25 acts and 170 musicians. «It promises to be a complete proposal, a celebration of percussion instruments that will run between 6 p.m. and 12.30 a.m. and feature three concerts each day, exhibitions of instruments, seminars, workshops, parades, and other events to spread throughout the entire city,» the festival’s artistic director, Nikos Touliatos, one of the country’s more accomplished drummers, told a recent news conference. Acts included on the percussion festival’s agenda include the popular British act STOMP, which had first performed here at the Herod Atticus Theater in 2000; Les Tambours du Bronx, an act which uses only barrels to produce its sounds; drummer Paul Wertico, an all-rounder active in jazz, rock and fusion, whose numerous collaborations include the Pat Metheny Group and, more recently, Terry Callier; the renowned Turkish percussionist Okay Temiz, who has frequently worked with Greek wind instruments master Floros Floridis; Vassilis Vasilatos; Daktyla tis Ekatis; Tam Tan d’Afrigua; and the group Greeks and the World. This year’s festival also includes the 2nd European Low Bap Festival, a hip-hop event, with acts such as Active Member, Rodney P, Lewis Parker, and Skitz, as well as a student drama festival, children’s performances, ballet from the Siberian State Ballet Company, classical music from Dimitris Sgouros and the Intrati Orchestra. The appealing list of local musical acts booked to perform at this year’s festival includes Socrates Malamas, Haris Alexiou, Alkinoos Ioannidis, Vassilis Papaconstantinou, Michalis Hatzigiannis, Thanassis Papaconstantinou, Dimitris Mitropanos, and Savina Yiannatou. Theatrical productions include «Electra» by the Patras Municipal Theater, «Medea» by the National Theater, and «Frogs» by the State Theater of Northern Greece.