Greek music emerges a winner

Now that the lights of last week’s two-day Greek Song Festival have gone down, the event’s organizers and participating acts are evaluating its pros and cons. Even though the revenue generated through sponsorship deals and other sources covered just 400,000 euros of the event’s 1.5-million-euro budget, plenty was gained from this inaugural staging of the revived and modernized festival with a past. Benefits that emerged from the two-day event are a double album featuring new and established artists, a DVD, 12 new and fresh songs from seminal talent, that many more new tracks from seasoned acts, and record contracts for the festival’s prizewinners from major labels. The festival’s second and final night, which featured established acts and the winner of the first night’s new-talent award in informal competition, attracted a capacity crowd of 5,600 to the PAOK basketball arena. Opening night, during which the 35-year-old artist Stavroula Arvanitopoulou won the festival’s first prize, drew 1,300 less to the arena. The newcomer also topped the viewer voting on the second night for her rendition of a new song, «Xeno Roucho.» Arvanitopoulou also received 20,000 euros in prize money. Second prize in the new-talent competition went to Sozos Lyberopoulos, who earned 10,000 euros, while third prize went to Efstathia Mantzoufa, who received 5,000 euros. The participating artists deemed the viewer voting on second night as «wise.» «The public voted consciously and honored the event with wisdom so that the seed that we’ve sown can continue to yield in a similar vein,» noted the well-known singer Dimitra Galani. Her performance of «Magia Melagia,» a new song written by Stamatis Kraounakis, was warmly received at the festival. «The important thing is that, with this event, the family of music has mixed and proved that we’re real and not a reality show,» Kraounakis said. On the final night, Arvanitopoulou’s «Xeno Roucho» topped the television viewer voting with a 19.05 percent share of some 55,000 SMS messages and telephone calls. The established Cretan balladeer Loudovikos ton Anogeion captured second place with nearly 5,000 fewer votes. «Let’s not forget that the festival exists to prompt discussion about Greek music, and not for the discovery of new songs,» noted the celebrated veteran songwriter Dionysis Savvopoulos. «First night showed that serious weaknesses exist in Greek song.» Reservations had been expressed about the revival of the defunct event, but they were overcome by the event’s appeal, both at the venue and on television. Approximately half a million television viewers tuned in for the festival’s second night to produce an impressive 20.3 percent viewer rating. The support offered to the event by numerous established artists, mainly from Thessaloniki, as well the solid number of entries submitted by new artists, was also extremely encouraging. «Greek song proved its strength through an institution created very swiftly for the years to come,» said Christos Panagopoulos, president of state television and radio ERT, the festival’s co-organizer, along with the Thessaloniki International Fair.