An Alexandrian composer for an Alexandrian poet

Inspired by a verse by Cavafy, Greek composer Dimitris Papadimitriou was more than ready to accept an invitation to appear in Alexandria, Egypt. His task was to put Cavafy’s poetry to music, an invitation proffered by the city’s Greek community and the Averoff Alumni Association in view of the official opening of the new Alexandria Library, which is scheduled for October 15 and 16. Before appearing in Egypt, the composer and his collaborators are offering a preview of the work at the Herod Atticus Theater this Friday. Divided into three parts – the first consisting of Cavafy’s poetry under the heading, «An Alexandrian Composing an Alexandrian» – the evening further features «The Songs of the Months,» interpreted by the celebrated Eleftheria Arvanitaki, and «The Songs of the Last Decade,» interpreted by prominent singers Gerasimos Andreatos, Alkinoos Ioannidis, Manolis Lidakis, Dimitris Mitropanos, Irene Karayianni and Fotini Dara. At a recent press conference, the composer talked about the concert, whose overall title is «A City Behind the Sea,» stressing the fact that he had worked on a number of lesser-known Cavafy poems: «a bouquet of poems which were essentially revealed to me after two decades of studying the poet,» said Papadimitriou. Furthermore, the composer talked about his childhood years spent in Egypt, adding that Friday’s songs, though a more sophisticated form of Greek popular music, are also accompanied by a classical music orchestra, in this case the ERT Symphony Orchestra. Also at the press conference, Eleftheria Arvanitaki noted that the concert was an opportunity to go back to Cavafy and rediscover the world of poetry. «This is a difficult task, one which requires a discreet interpretation on the part of the vocalist,» said the singer. «The most important element, however, is that Papadimitriou’s origins are reflected in his music.» The ERT Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Andreas Pylarinos, while Alexis Costalas will be the evening’s narrator. «A City Behind the Sea,» will be performed on Friday at 8.30 p.m., at the Herod Atticus Theater, Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, Acropolis, tel 010.323.2771, 010.323.5582. Ticket purchases and credit card reservations can be made at the Athens Festival’s central box office, which is located within the arcade at 39 Panepistimiou Street, tel 010.322.1459.