CULTURE

Athens Concert Hall evening to raise money for Orthodox church in Venice

The chief official of the Hellenic Institute for Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice, Chryssa Maltezou, speaks fondly of the Italian city’s St George’s Orthodox Cathedral at the Campo dei Greci site. But the 16th-century building is in urgent need of repair. Both the church, whose deteriorating facade and iconostasis – the work of great 16th-century Cretan and Cypriot iconographers – need to be restored, and the cash-strapped institute require financial support, officials told a recent press conference ahead of a fund-raising concert in the Greek capital tomorrow night. In support of the cause, the Athens State Orchestra will perform a fund-raiser at the Athens Concert Hall, organized by the Friends of the Hellenic Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies Institute in Venice, an association founded by the concert hall’s president, Christos Lambrakis. Directly subject to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, San Giorgio dei Greci, the oldest church of the Greek Orthodox diaspora, was built by famous Italian architects in the Renaissance style, after repeated requests for a building permit by the city’s Orthodox community of Greek intellectuals and Greek soldiers serving in the Venetian army. It formed the nucleus of a Greek community that numbered 15,000 in its heyday. Sitting next to the church for centuries was the Flaginean College, an ecclesiastical academy that supplied many regions under Ottoman rule with educated priests and teachers. The same building now hosts the Hellenic Byzantine Institute, established in 1953, which, as Maltezou pointed out, has played an important role in fostering the cultural heritage of the city’s ethnic Greek community. Besides its role in preserving and protecting relics and other treasures, the institute, Greece’s only cultural institute abroad, also conducts research in Byzantine and post-Byzantine history. Donating their services free, the Athens State Orchestra, conducted by Andreas Pylarinos, and with Tzenia Manoussaki on piano, will play works by Antiochos Evangelatos, Franz Liszt, and Cesar Franck. The Athens State Orchestra performs in aid of Venice’s Orthodox church San Giorgio dei Greci at the Athens Concert Hall on Tuesday, February 5. The Athens Concert Hall is at 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 010.728.2000, www.megaron.gr.