Renewal for a cultural voice

Trito Programma, Greece’s main (if not most unique) cultural radio station, recently celebrated its 50th birthday, which coincided with a phase of renewal and, after quite some time, new ventures – a branch radio station which is to be dedicated to all the arts except classical music (something like the Greek version of France Culture) is planned. Already about 20 albums of Greek music and song have been recorded and will soon be released and the station will also broadcast new shows favoring contemporary, quality music by local musicians, mostly up-and-coming ones. Trito Programma also launches Annual Music Awards for different categories of music, in a ceremony which will take place before Christmas and has even more plans for the future, such as singing competitions or maybe transforming a well-known music stage into a classical music club. On top of all that, it will establish a special zone with reruns of old, landmark shows, such as «Lessons in Art by Yiannis Tsarouchis;» «The Salt of the Earth,» Rinio Papanikola’s pioneer music show; and previously unreleased recordings by Hadjidakis, Theodorakis, Karydis and others. «We have by far exceeded the problems we had, which even affected the running of the station, which had been abandoned to a large extent, from its transmitters to the lack of a needle for the record player,» said the director of Trito Programma, composer Dimitris Papadimitriou. «But from now on, we have to take it step by step. Of course, important steps are being taken, like the recording unit we have put together – one of the best studios in Greece, where we are already recording a large series of albums that we will release – and reactions by the higher echelons to our plans have been encouraging, which allows us not to be satisfied but optimistic.» What about the transmitters and why can’t Trito Programma be heard everywhere? It can be heard in many of the country’s regions and soon more will be covered. In Attika, it is broadcasted by two transmitters, one on Parnitha and one on Hymettus. The only time it can’t be heard is when there is some interference or when there is no visual contact between a region and the transmitter. But this has nothing to do with the station’s director. Nonetheless, Trito Programma has started to request and receive more of the pie than it used to. Still, such a station deserves more, in my opinion. How would one define the identity of this radio station today? Trito Programma is a utopian radio station. It is free from all those pressures and social blackmail that sustain the rest of the media, such as political shows and advertisements. That is its ideological weapon, but also its weakness, where finances are concerned. But this is something that has always been the case and which I am determined to passionately preserve. Political shows and advertisements abolish the very essence of a cultural radio station. We are also maintaining our dedication to great art, which is not necessarily restricted to classical music but extends to other kinds of music and other forms of art. There are two categories that we distinguish: that of quality art, produced and addressed to people with art as its aim (although it can also prove commercial) and commercial art, which is solely produced for the market. One can encounter commercial art in both folk songs and classical music, for instance. Trito Programma excludes commercial art. All kinds of music and art are welcome at the station, but not in their commercial form. Doesn’t the station’s opening up to other art forms greatly limit its musical character? I have this goal, which might materialize soon: to expand the station to a new frequency, to create a branch radio station that will take on all shows except for classical music. It will be a cultural station, something like France Culture. Trito Programma will then be addressed to those solely interested in music, who are disturbed by people talking. We are thinking of naming the new station Trito kai en Trito (Third and a Third), because initially it will only broadcast eight hours a day. I have worked on this a lot and the response has been good. There is the political will for this to happen, we just have to decide when and how. I believe that in a couple of months things will be clear. What is new in this season’s program? We are establishing a time zone with old, landmark programs, mostly from the Hadjidakis age: radio lessons in art by Yiannis Tsarouchis, lessons in cinema by Yiannis Bakoyiannopoulos, «The Salt of the Earth» by Rinio Papanikola, concerts with Miltiades Karydis, old recordings by the Trito Programma Choir, unreleased recordings of Theodorakis and Hadjidakis songs with the Orchestra of Colors, a reading of Tachtsis’s «Trito Stefani,» actress Sappho Notara as Herod and Evgenios Spatharis as the Three Magi in Pavrianos’s satire and much more. Our new productions include lots of recordings in our new studio, which we will also soon release. First of all, we commissioned about 25 three-minute compositions from new artists, which we recorded with the Athens Concert Hall’s Camerata Orchestra, conducted by Alexandre Myrat. We also recorded the Orchestra of Colors’ concerts on International Music Day, under the baton of Miltos Logiadis, which includes works by Rota, Moricone, Hadjidakis and others. We are also recording a series of recitals or musical portraits of various composers, soloists and singers, many of them young: Boundounis-Razi, Antigone Goni, Irini Karayianni, Dimitris Koukos, Vicky Stylianou, Socrates Anthis, Costas Triandafyllidis, Giorgos Arsenidis, the Guitarists Ensemble, the Olympic Trio, Zacharias Karounis, Pavlos Kanellakis, Nina Patrikiou with a chamber music orchestra and more – all of which will be released, separately, as albums. We are also working on the broadcasting of Emmanouil Roidis’s «Papissa Ioanna» (Pope Joan) to be narrated in 35 shows by poet Giorgos Koropoulis; a band playing constantly in the background – what I call imaginary radio – will arouse the imagination of listeners with the aid of new technologies. Another series of new shows will deal with extracts of lost tragedies, edited by Ilias Malandris and featuring Anna Synodinou, Olga Tournaki, Christos Loulis and others.» Won’t Trito Programma celebrate its 50th birthday? We are organizing a festive concert with the participation of friendly ensembles like the ERT Greek Radio & TV Orchestra and Choir, maybe the Camerata and the Orchestra of Colors, but also our Children’s Symphony Orchestra and Choir, as well as many soloists and singers. At that celebration, we will give out the Trito Programma Music Awards, which we are launching as an institution, where all of the station’s collaborators will vote for best orchestra of the year, best conductor, composition, song, interpretation and more.