A rich season for the TSSO

Though it still may be without a permanent residence, the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra (TSSO) has a budget double the size it was last year and with it has put together an especially interesting program for the new season. But the problem of housing continues to plague the ensemble, driving its artistic director, Myron Michailidis, to make a desperate call to the Ministry of Culture several months ago and offer several possible solutions. «I feel desperate when I see this orchestra wandering around like a group of nomads for concerts and rehearsals,» Michailidis said back in April, when he asked that the orchestra reside in the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. But at a press conference presenting TSSO activities earlier this week, Michailidis seemed more optimistic, saying, «The government seems to have the will to solve the problem.» Another good sign for the orchestra is that its budget this year is set at 1.33 million euros, compared to the 770,000 euros it received for 2004-2005. «This has allowed the orchestra to settle several longstanding debts and to move forward with a lighter financial burden,» said the ensemble’s finance manager, Vassilis Gakis. The orchestra’s program of activities for 2005-2006 has been organized in four phases: The first concerns the constant cultivation of the orchestra’s quality, a goal whose results will be displayed at the season’s opening concert on October 14 at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, where the orchestra will take center stage. The second phase concerns co-productions with other musical and artistic ensembles in the city of Thessaloniki. Within this framework, the orchestra will play the music to the first ever presentation in Greece of Charlie Chaplin’s «City Lights,» which will take place on November 25 at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. The orchestra will also collaborate with the city’s Demetria Festival for a musical evening titled «Arias and Belcanto,» featuring soprano Vasso Papantoniou. The third phase of the orchestra’s activities focuses on its recording activities and the ensemble has signed on with the UK-based label Naxos to record a CD of works by Greek composers. Finally, there is education. As well as the orchestra’s plans to travel around the countryside and perform in remoter parts, it is also planning to produce an educational DVD based on Benjamin Britten’s «A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra» and Miklos Rozsa’s «The Jungle Book.» The TSSO will also take part in celebrations held by the city of Thessaloniki on October 27, while in December it will hold a concert tribute to Mikis Theodorakis, who celebrates his 80th birthday this year. For the holidays, the TSSO will perform a Christmas party concert on December 23 at Thessaloniki University, while internationally acclaimed violinist Gil Shaham will join the ensemble as soloist in a large concert on December 10 at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall.