CULTURE

Camerata Orchestra waltzing on strongly

One of Greece’s most prominent musical ensembles, the Camerata Orchestra of the Friends of Music, will be traveling to the Austrian capital this weekend to perform at the esteemed Musikverein festival on Sunday in the first concert of its Austrian tour, under the baton of Sir Neville Marriner. This was not the only significant item of news from the ensemble at a press conference earlier this week, however. Athens Concert Hall artistic director Nikos Tsouchlos was proud to announce that the 15-year-old orchestra «is at a new phase of life and is only just beginning.» The press conference was called in order to assess the 2005-2006 season and to outline future plans. «At a time when classical music is in crisis, the establishment of an orchestra, especially in a country like Greece, is something of a wager. We have focused on attracting a younger audience and we are not just talking about giving young people the opportunity to listen to classical music,» said Tsouchlos. «With the Camerata, we have experimented with presenting concerts and educational programs at many elementary schools around the country, inviting the students not just to be passive listeners, but active participants. The program titled ‘From Hearing to Listening,’ which began in 2005 at the initiative of Ilias Sakalak, a Camerata musician, has given children the opportunity both to perform with the orchestra and to give us their input.» This educational program will be extended to include middle and high schools, while there are also plans to stage concerts at juvenile detention centers and drug rehabilitation clinics. An honorary president of the Camerata, Marriner also said a few words: «When I first encountered the Camerata I saw an ensemble with a great deal of enthusiasm and talent, but no channel for them. Now that we are ready to appear at the Musikverein I see how successful our journey so far has been,» said the lead conductor.