CULTURE

Guitar Festival headliners

The next few days at the Athens Concert Hall promise to be exciting ones and center stage will be taken up by the guitar. The headline performance, tomorrow, will be given by world-renowned guitarist John Williams, who will also, for the first time, play a duet with Greece’s internationally acclaimed guitarist Costas Kotsiolis to the accompaniment of an orchestra. We will also have the rare opportunity to hear the first performance worldwide of Leo Brouwer’s new concerto, written especially for the two strummers. A few days later, on February 6, a bouquet of excellent guitarists will get together for a concert featuring an electric guitar as a solo instrument in a symphony orchestra. These two concerts compose this year’s Guitar Festival, the fifth to be held by the Athens Concert Hall, organized by Kotsiolis. «The Guitar Festival at the Megaron has gone very well indeed over the past five years,» says Kotsiolis. «It always had a very large public reception, attracted great guitarists from all over the world, presented new works and stayed tuned to all forms of guitar music – classical, flamenco, jazz, guitar with vocal accompaniment, even the electric guitar, which is being presented with a symphony orchestra for the first time in Greece.» Furthermore, the festival’s director adds, the award-winning Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra, the piece to be performed at that concert, is by a Greek composer, Christos Papageorgiou. The electric guitar will be played by Tomaso Lama, who has already performed the piece in Italy. Tomorrow’s performance, with Williams and Kotsiolis in tandem, is especially exciting for the event’s organizer. «It was Williams’s idea to work together, when, two years ago, we appeared on the same bill but performing different pieces,» says Kotsiolis. «That was also when Leo Brouwer offered a piece for us, ‘The Book of Signs,’ which we will present for the first time on a global level at the concert [tomorrow].» Teaming up «After Athens, we will perform the piece in other countries, in Europe and elsewhere. This marks the beginning of a very interesting collaboration because, I have to note, Williams, this legendary guitarist, has only once over the long course of his career performed a duet, with Julian Bream, and that was not with an orchestra accompaniment as it is in this concert. I do not need to say what an honor and joy this collaboration is, especially as Williams is not just an amazing artist, but a great man as well,» says Kotsiolis. Tomorrow’s concert will also feature the two guitarists in separate performances: Kotsiolis will appear as soloist in Brouwer’s Volos Concerto and Williams in Mauro Guiliani’s Concerto for Guitar and Strings No. 1, Opus 30. The orchestra accompanying the two guitarists is the Camerata, but under the direction of Lukas Karytinos instead of Brouwer as stipulated by the Athens Concert Hall’s quarterly program. «Brouwer, who was meant to conduct both concerts, was detained by unforeseen circumstances, but, thankfully, we were able to book two excellent replacements: Lukas Karytinos for the concert with Williams and Miltos Logiadis for the performance on February 2,» explains Kotsiolis. The guitarists appearing at the second concert, other than Lama, are Eduardo Fernandez, Shin-Ichi Fukuda and Kotsiolis, while Christina Pandelidou will play the oboe d’amore.