CULTURE

Early autumn at the Atrium

Atrium Nights, the Athens Concert Hall’s program dedicated to young artists, will be back for the third year running in early September. Hosted at its usual venue, the welcoming atrium situated in the concert hall’s new wing, this year the event will strike a slightly different note. For the past two years, the program – under the artistic direction of Anna Dalara – mostly consisted of concerts where young artists joined forces with older, established musicians and singers. This year Atrium Nights will be more theater-oriented and feature two productions: Fernando de Rojas’s «La Celestina» and a theater and music tribute to Byzantinist Sir Steven Runciman. Atrium Nights enjoys the support of the Ministry of Tourism Development and minister Fanni Palli-Petralia was present at the recent press conference during which the program was announced. Petralia talked about the concert hall’s contribution, especially now that tourism has deviated from its traditional axis. «We no longer have tourists, we have travelers. Our message this year is ‘Explore your senses in Greece,’ meaning live the experience. In order to do this, people must discover the cultural identity of the place they are visiting. Athens is starting to become a final destination in itself, rather than just a stopover, and cultural events enrich such a city break.» Atrium Nights is designed to appeal to foreign visitors and local audiences alike and a wide-ranging campaign has been launched with that aim, as the concert hall’s Eleni Spanopoulou explained. Not only will there be English supertitles at all performances, but the Atrium Nights program will be available at all Greek hotels as well as at Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) offices all over Europe, according to Spanopoulou. Directed by Vassilis Nikolaidis and featuring music by Thanos Mikroutsikos, «La Celestina» will go on stage September 14 to 19 starring Nonika Galinea in the title role. The devious and cunning Celestina creates a love story with a tragic ending. «It is not an innocent love story, there is a reversal,» said Nikolaidis, who added that there will be lots of music and singing and that the production has been especially adapted for the atrium. Galinea will be joined by Costas Gakis, Anna Koutsaftiki and others, as well as singer Panayiotis Larkou, while the sets are designed by Nikos Petropoulos and the costumes by Yiannis Metzikoff. An entirely different music and theater performance, Giorgos Andreou and Thodoris Gonis’s «On the Corner of Karolou Dil and Tsimiski,» will be staged on September 27 and 28. The production, inspired by Runciman’s texts, focuses on the stories of eight different women, ranging from Byzantine hymn composer Kassiani and the Duchess of Plaisance to a young girl living in modern-day Athens. Syrmo Keke, Athina Maximou and Evi Saoulidou will play all eight women and vocalist Eleni Tsaligopoulou will perform the songs. As Andreou, who composed the music, announced, an eight-member orchestra will also participate. The texts bear the signature of director Thodoris Gonis and Angelos Mendis designed the sets and costumes. Artistic director Anna Dalara expressed her pleasure at the success of Atrium Nights, which started out on an experimental basis. «We have had a full house both years,» she said, the cheap tickets being an additional attraction. She did not rule out the possibility of switching once again to a more music-oriented program next year and suggested a possible concert of different kinds of religious music that would convey the message of unity and tolerance.