Athens State Orchestra moves on

Homeless, or without a permanent rehearsal room for years, the Athens State Orchestra is, nevertheless, moving ahead despite the difficulties. In June, the orchestra performed at the historic Muskiverein concert hall in Vienna with 16 new members amid its ranks, while the same month it also played at the Herod Atticus Theater fronted by world-famous soprano Jessye Norman with Vladimir Spivakov at the podium. The orchestra’s commitments for the winter season, as well as the ongoing problems it has confronted, were discussed at a recent news conference. «The rehearsal room has remained half-finished for about 25 years now, in the Athens Conservatory’s basement. It does not stand to reason for the orchestra to be without an appropriate rehearsal facility,» protested the Athens State Orchestra’s artistic director, Aris Garoufalis. Also at the news conference, Miltos Economou, president of the orchestra’s Musicians Club, contended that Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos had failed to act on a promise made earlier in the year. «Last March, the minister pledged that pending work on the hall would resume in June. The orchestra has no choice but to perform as a neglected musical body,» Economou said. The Athens State Orchestra’s winter season performances begin this Friday at the Athens Concert Hall with a concert marking Hector Berlioz’s 200th birthday anniversary year. The orchestra will be fronted by soprano Lulia Isaev and conducted by the renowned Romanian maestro Cristian Mandeal. Then, on November 16, the orchestra will present the premiere of Aram Hatchaturian’s Symphony in C Major. On January 30 in the new year, it will perform the first act of Wagner’s «Die Walkyrie.» A performance titled «Love in Opera and Operetta» follows on February 14, for Valentine’s Day. A concert comprising work by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak is scheduled for June 11, and a Manos Hadjidakis tribute for June 25. The Athens State Orchestra’s series of performances for the second year running at the Athens University’s Aula Hall, beginning November 21, should be particularly interesting. As part of celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the orchestra’s establishment, a commemorative publication will be presented at the Athens Concert Hall on February 24.