CULTURE

Need for a new National Opera building and a Music Academy

Just as general education is sorely lacking, so is music education in Greece – which is what makes the establishment of a music academy, with its expected beneficial influence on all levels of musical education available today, such a pressing necessity. The need for the government to set one up, as well as push for the construction of a new building for the National Opera, were the conclusions of two day conferences held recently at the National Hellenic Research Foundation and organized by the Society for the Creation of a New National Opera Building and the Maria Callas Music Academy, which is headed by soprano Vasso Papantoniou. The first day’s conference, held two days before the second one, dealt with the National Opera building and the second one with the Music Academy. Papantoniou pointed out that an academy would provide postgraduate studies for university graduates and would not therefore conflict with music schools, where its students would come from, or university music departments. Such an academy would re-define the quality of musical education. She added that Education Minister Marietta Giannakou was aware of the request and had promised to look into it. Papantoniou appeared confident that the new leadership of the Ministry of Culture will deal with the matter. The main speakers at the second conference were conductor Dimitris Agrafiotis, Apostolos Kostios, professor of music at Athens University and vice president of the National Opera Board of Directors, music critic Kyriakos Loukakos, pianist Dionysis Mallouchos, director Vassilis Papavassiliou, Athens National Technical University Professor Theodosis Tassios and conductor Nikos Christodoulou. They all argued in favor of the foundation of a music academy of higher learning (the Ionian University has already taken steps in that direction), but also dealt with other issues related to the putative academy. Though these might have sounded like nit-picking when the academy’s actual foundation is still under discussion, it was still good clarify what kind of academy we are aiming for.