Loved songs make their way to stage

It may be hard to believe but «Stavros tou Notou» (Southern Cross), the most popular song cycle ever produced by composer Thanos Mikroutsikos and among the most popular Greek albums ever produced, has never been performed in concert in its entirety. The album is composed of songs on the poetry of Nikos Kavadias. It has already won over two generations of Greeks and, with sales reaching 700,000 copies in two editions, it appears to be winning over a third generation as well. Now, for the first time ever, it will be performed on stage, in six concerts slated from March 17-22 at the Athens Concert Hall. With these concerts, Mikroutsikos will be introducing a new generation of singers to the opus, which in the first edition of the album was performed by Yiannis Koutras. Later, in the 1991 edition titled «Lines on the Horizon,» the composer performed some of the pieces himself and added George Dalaras, Vassilis Papaconstantinou and the Katsimichas brothers, Haris and Panos, to the bill. Now, at the Athens Concert Hall, the 17 songs that comprise the cycle (plus a newer composition) will be performed by Yiannis Kotsiras, Lavrentis Maheritsas, Christos Thivaios and – as an extra bonus – the original Yiannis Koutras, in what promises to be an impressive comeback. While «Southern Cross» will form the core of the concerts, the composer will also be presenting other works, such as tributes to Manos Hadjidakis and poets Yiannis Ritsos and C.P. Cavafy, or, as the composer says, «to personalities I not only respect, but who have had a profound impact on my work.» Though Mikroutsikos’s admiration and respect for Hadjidakis runs deep, he also confesses to feeling as though the late composer was something of a teacher to him. «In so far as the ethic of my work is concerned and other aspects of life in general, I consider Hadjidakis a pillar of modern Greek culture,» he explains. The concerts of March 17 and 18 will open with works dedicated to Hadjidakis, including the piano suite «Good Morning to You, Mr Hadjidakis» (released by EMI Classics in the album «Dance and Memories»), with soloist Danae Carra and singer Calliope Germanou, and a short piece for harpsichord and electric bass titled «Gioconda ’87,» which, the composer remembers, Hadjidakis was «especially fond of.» This particular piece will not be played live, but it will be accompanied by a video projection featuring moments of Hadjidakis’s life and a dance piece choreographed and performed by Mikroutsikos’s two daughters, Cecile and Constantina. As far as Ritsos goes, «other than a great poet, he was my greatest teacher directly, the man who influenced me more than anybody else,» says Mikroutsikos. The relationship between the two began back when Mikroutsikos was a student at university and lasted through the dictatorship and up to the poet’s death, by which time the two had grown very close and Mikroutsikos had put much of Ritsos’s verse to music. «Ritsos gave me poignant answers to pivotal questions about art and society that were tormenting me at the time; and his answers defined me and continue to serve me to this very day.» The concerts of March 19 and 20 will begin with two works based on Ritsos’s poetry: «Moonlight Sonata,» performed by Costas Thomaidis, and «Fence II,» with Georgia Syllaiou on vocals and Thodoris Economou on the piano. Cavafy for the composer is «one of the three greatest Greek poets in the past 200 years in Modern Greek poetry, if not the absolute greatest.» On the poetry of Cavafy, Mikroutsikos has composed an exceptionally interesting cycle of songs, including «An Old Man of Alexandria,» which will open the concerts of March 21 and 22, performed by Costas Thomaidis. This concert will also include a new composition, the eight-minute «So They May Come,» which will be performed by a solo singer and a small musical ensemble. Thanos Mikroutsikos will appear on March 17-22 at the Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, tel 210.728.2000.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.