CULTURE

Year of Chopin starts early

Tonight’s concert at the Athens Concert Hall comes with an agenda that is twofold. The event, which brings together the City of Athens Musical Ensembles under the baton of Lukas Karytinos and piano soloist Dimitris Sgouros, acts as an unofficial curtain raiser for the Year of Chopin – as 2010 will mark 200 years since the birth of the celebrated Polish composer and pianist. At the same time, the concert also has a charity angle, with proceeds to benefit the City of Athens Homeless Foundation. The shelter caters to about 4,500 people for meals and 180 for accommodation. At a press conference held recently, Sgouros appeared content and noted that «the concert will be conducted by one of the best Greek orchestra conductors,» adding that «we selected Frederic Chopin’s Concert No 2 because it is rarely heard.» Karytinos stressed the artistic development of the City of Athens Musical Ensembles. «In the last three years, I have collaborated frequently with the ensembles, and I have seen some incredible progress. More specifically, I’m talking about the Symphony Orchestra of the City of Athens, which has emerged as a serious ensemble of great symphonic capabilities within a relatively short period of time,» he said. At the Athens Concert Hall, the evening’s program includes Chopin’s Andante spianato et Grande Polonaise brillante, Opus 22, and Piano Concerto No 2, Opus 21, as well as Johannes Brahms’s Symphony No 4, Opus 98. Boy wonder Born in Athens in 1969, Sgouros’s artistic wizardry was apparent early on – the young soloist gave his first ever concert at the age of 7, before graduating from the Athens Conservatory as a pianist and giving piano lessons before he reached his 12th birthday. In 1982, the young virtuoso performed Rachmaninoff’s celebrated Piano Concert No 3 at Carnegie Hall in New York City, accompanied by Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the legendary Mstislav Rostropovich. «A miracle of nature» was how the late Russian cellist and maestro described the young Sgouros’s performance that night, and he soon became a friend and mentor of the pianist. Sgouros’s subsequent studies at the Royal Academy of London and the University of Maryland were complemented by a mathematics degree from Athens University. The artist has performed in countless countries around the world, collaborating with leading maestros, such as Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein and Kurt Masur. Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.728.2333. For more information log onto www.megaron.gr.