A spate of changes are due to take place in the Athens State Orchestra, which has entered the new season with plans for renewal and a pressing need to solve several ongoing problems. Conductor Vyron Fidetzis has taken on the role of deputy director, replacing Aris Garoufalis, who left at the end of June when his term ended. One of the most nagging issues is the fact that musicians still have nowhere suitable to rehearse; they have been working under harsh conditions in a hall belonging to the Athens Music School for the past three years, following the closure of the Pallas Theater. Strike threat A recent press conference held to announce the orchestra’s program for the new season took place in a heated atmosphere, with reactions from the musicians (they had sent a letter to the Ministry of Culture in June threatening that they would call a strike at the end of 2004 if no solution was found to their problem, but received no answer). As a short-term solution, the Athens Concert Hall will provide some of its halls in the new building, which representatives of the Athens State Orchestra Society of Musical Employees visited. Transitional phase «This year’s program for the Athens Concert Hall is definitely transitional. As the new deputy director, I implemented some changes, wherever they were feasible, on the basis of three principles: enlarging the orchestra’s communication with the public (with tours around Greece, organizing the first Greek musical festival with the participation of numerous orchestras, recordings and more), creating a more definitive musical style for the Athens State Orchestra (which means that it is crucial to solve the longstanding problem of the rehearsal venue and to decide on a repertoire) and establishing the orchestra’s international presence,» said Fidetzis. «One of my main aims is to help the musicians feel that the orchestra is their home and to offer means of artistic expression. That way, standards can rise and there can be harmony between the musicians,» he added. This year’s program includes many Greek works, as well as premieres of symphonic works. The season proper began for the orchestra last Thursday with a concert at the Athens Concert Hall dedicated to the centenary of the death of Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. The 47 concerts scheduled for the 2004-05 season include 25 at the Athens Concert Hall (two of which will be dedicated to the 80th birthday of Mikis Theodorakis), five concerts at the Aula venue of Panteion University, and more.