Celebrating Theodorakis

Mikis Theodorakis’s willingness to speak his mind and voice never comes as a surprise, especially when he’s invited to speak at an event held in his honor, as was the case at Monday’s press conference, where the composer was asked to comment on a tribute being held at the Athens Concert Hall on the event of his 80th birthday. But the epilogue to Theodorakis’s torrential speech on Monday, which encompassed memories from every period of his life and career, was a moving one. «Desolation. That’s what I feel.» His words struck a chord with the audience and sank the auditorium into an uncomfortable silence. «That will also be the title of my next album,» he added. Just prior to his statement he had been asked how many times his early compositions, the ones written through the hardship of war and exile, have been played since the fall of the Greek dictatorship in 1974. Nevertheless, he went on to say: «I am happy. I have my family, my friends, but deep down inside, I am bitter…» Just like that, going beyond his usual personal tone, Theodorakis gave voice to an entire generation that is beginning to lose its own. Back to music. Most of the works slated for the four Athens Concert Hall concerts – to be held tonight, Friday, Saturday and next Monday – are the early fruit of the highly «political» Theodorakis, but also touch on Theodorakis’s symphonic works. The concert series begins tonight at the Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall with a recital of songs based on the poetry of Seferis, Elytis, Ritsos and others, performed by bass Christoforos Stamboglis and pianist Stavros Lantsias. Next is Friday’s concert with the Athens State Orchestra, conducted by Greek National Opera Orchestra artistic director and chief conductor Ilias Voudouris and accompanied by mezzo-soprano Mary-Elen Nezi. This concert will focus on Theodorakis’s symphonic character with works written between 1946 and 1958, including the «Oedipus Tyrannous» String Orchestra Ode (1958), the symphonic scherzo «Festival at Asi Gonia» (1947), the song cycle «Four Songs for Myrto» titled «Love and Death» with lyrics by Theodorakis and Lorenzos Mavilis (1946-1948), and last but not least, Theodorakis’s First Symphony (1954). The Athens State Orchestra, accompanied by the New Hellenic Quartet, will also perform in the concert of February 14, which sheds light on chamber music pieces written between 1946 and 1949 and most of which are being performed in Greece for the first time. Theodorakis’s early years are the focus of vocalist Maria Farandouri’s recital on Saturday, where the famed Greek singer, a longtime associate and close friend of the composer’s, will perform with the Orchestra of Colors under the baton of Miltos Logiadis. The first part of the program consists of the ballet suite «Greek Carnival,» which the composer began writing in 1947 while in exile on Icaria and completed in 1953. The second part of the concert consists of selections of some of Theodorakis’s most popular songs. Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.728.2333. Reservations on tel 210.728.2333 or online at