CULTURE

Mouskouri’s diary packed with events

Recent information had it that Nana Mouskouri would take part in a tribute to Athens which will take place at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, if the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) gives its consent, yet Mouskouri denies it: «I saw my name and was very surprised.» In any case, she has already taken part in two tributes to Athens with the ARD German television network, the same network preparing the aforementioned event. Besides, Mouskouri’s hands are full. On June 24 she is scheduled to give a jazz concert on the occasion of the arrival of the Olympic Flame in Geneva, the next day she will go to Lausanne where Maurice Bejart will present Hadjidakis’s «Birds,» while all along she has long been contemplating preparations for a big feast to celebrate her 70th birthday. On top of all that, there are discussions with composer Vangelis Papathanassiou about a possible collaboration. A mature woman rarely admits her age, but Nana Mouskouri has no such problems. «I had fun all these years and I want to celebrate. I was lucky enough to experience the audience’s love and faith. I started in Greece, then went to France, Britain, Barcelona, Germany and America. The fact that I have come to this point is what I want to celebrate,» she told Kathimerini. The first concert will take place on October 11 (her birthday is October 13) at the new hall of the Athens Concert Hall, while two days later she will perform in Berlin, where she says she had her first international success in 1961. She will then go to London, Barcelona and Paris. She will not be alone in those festive concerts, but will be joined by guest stars including Leonard Cohen and Harry Belafonte. In a few days, all of her French recordings will be released on 33 CDs. «Reaching the final goal was not as important as the journey to happiness, with all its bad and good moments. That is what kept me going and that is why it annoys me having to say good bye. Some people say to me, ‘You are well-known, you have so much money and are successful, what more do you want?’ I am happy to have made money, but that wasn’t the aim nor was it to become a star. I just wanted to sing, but nothing is given to you in life, you have to work.» Even today having a gold record at the age of 25 in a European country is no mean feat. «At 25 I had a gold record in Germany. Even now – I recently got one in Canada – it brings out the same emotions.» Those who have visited her in her house in Geneva talk about the walls covered with gold and platinum disks from all over the world. Recently, she also turned gold in Korea. Asked whether she is happy with her career, she admits openly to having made mistakes. «I once did a commercial, the only one I ever did. I broke, I will not deny it, it was a lot of money. I felt so bad that I gave the money I earned away to charity immediately. I felt as if it was burning. Still, my mistakes were not extreme, I was never ridiculed.» The ARD German television network included her name with those of Mikis Theodorakis, Vangelis Papathanassiou, Vicky Leandros, Despina Vandi and others in a forecoming event dedicated to Athens. «I have nothing to do with that,» she said. Concerning an album with Papathanassiou, she said it is her dream to sing his compositions. «We meet up often with Vangelis and we are discussing it.» Vocal prowess Nana Mouskouri was born on the island of Crete in 1934, but moved to Athens in her early years and later enrolled at the Athens Conservatory. She took her first steps on the circuit at the Greek Song Festival performing works by Mimis Plessas and Manos Hadjidakis – two composers with whom she became great friends and collaborated for many years to come. Another artists who greatly influenced her life and career was the poet Nikos Gatsos, who wrote many of the lyrics of the songs that compose the backbone of her repertory. Her first of many awards was the Golden Lion at the 1961 Berlin Film Festival for her participation in the film «Greece, Land of Dreams.» Today, Mouskouri has sung in at least 65 countries, earning more than 250 gold and silver disks (she is especially popular in France) as well as a Diamond award in the Netherlands. Mouskouri has worked with numerous international stars, including Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte and Michel Legrand, using her formidable, multifaceted vocal range to interpret all genres of music, from folk, jazz and blues to Greek art melodies.