The growth of the Greek Festival of Sydney over the last 37 years is linked to the evolution of the Greek community of NSW in recent years.
One of the most prestigious multicultural festivals in Australia, the event has played a key role in providing a forum for showcasing a multitude of Greek expressions performed by the finest Greek-Australian talent and visiting Greek guests. But Harry Danalis, President of the 121-year-old Greek Orthodox Community of NSW that founded the event, stated that the festival transcends Hellenism and is “embraced by all ethnicities and communities.”
“It is a truly remarkable event that showcases the Australian multicultural spirit,” Mr Danalis said – but he’s not the only one to think so.
In December, Australian Multiculturalism Minister Ray Williams and Mark Coure MP, representing Oatley, announced a $75,000-grant for the 2019 Greek Festival of Sydney because it “enriches” the country’s multicultural calendar in a state that has more than 130,000 people of Greek ancestry with more than 80,000 of them speaking Greek at home.
The festival’s committee have made good use of the funding boost and has come up with a months-long event to showcase the Hellenic way of life and the country’s rich cultural cultural and artistic heritage with events running from 1 March through to 24 May.
Here are some of the highlights:
1 March Eleonora Zouganeli, the rising star of the ‘entechno’ scene, performs at the Rockdale Town Hall. Tickets at $65 per person.
2-3 March The Greek Festival takes place at Darling Harbour. The free event features two days of non-stop entertainment, live music, dancing and Greek food. Runs from 3pm to 10pm.
10 March A concert dedicated to Stelios Kazantidis and Marinella at the Factory Theatre focuses on the partnership of two of Greece’s greatest singers from the Golden Age of Greek music. Takes place at 7pm, with tickets at $30.
14 March A talk by Macquarie University Professor Ian Worthington, titled “Alexander the Great: Truly Great?”, at the Parliament of NSW discusses the warrior’s military genius and legacy.
15 March-7 April Euripides’ “Trojan Women”, directed by Stavros Economidis, is performed at the Greek Threatre-Mantouridion in Modern Greek with English subtitles. Performances at 8pm Friday-Saturday and 5pm Sunday. Tickets are at $30 and $25 (concessions).
17 March Dr Panayota Nazou’s “Promised Brides” book launch takes place at the Beta Bar at 4pm. The English edition of her book presents the most systematic and coherent research so far into the phenomenon of “promised brides” as practiced during the period of mass migration from 1950-1975.
19-23 March Yannis Dramitinos’ photography exhibition, “Greeks.Romioi. Greek-Australians”, is featured at the Kudos Gallery and explores the hellenic identity, transforming landscapes and the juxtaposition of the secular and the religious of youth and old age.
29 March Greek music group Rebetien presents songs from the rebetiko repertoire and their own compositions at the St George Auditorium. Takes place at 7pm, with tickets at $30.
4, 10 April Steki Taverna presents a tribute to Apostolos Kaldaras and Stavros Kougioumtzis, considered among Greece’s finest composers of the 20th century. Performance kicks off at 7pm with tickets at $45.
7 April A musical tribute to successful Greek group Pyx Lax from the 1990s by Sydney’s Iho Nyx at the Factory Theatre in Marrickville. Tickets at $30.
10 April A lecture by Leonard Janiszewski and Effy Alexakis, titled “In their own image”, at Marickville Library at 7pm chronicles the depth and diversity of the Greek presence in Australia over the last 200 years.
12-14 April The theatre production titled “The Birth of Ancient Greek Theatre” comes direct from Greece and focuses on the history of ancient Greek drama from its birth in religious ceremonies and popular theatre to the four greatest dramatists of our times. Takes place at the Greek Theatre-Mantouridion. Tickets are at $30.
14 April Vic Alhadeff and Dr Alfred Vincent give a talk titled “The Jews of Greece: The Music and the Nightmare” at the Prince Henry Centre at 4pm. The tribute to the 50,000 Sephardic Jews killed in Thessaloniki also includes a music presentation by Marina Thiveos and Paul Hofstetter. Admission is free.
14 April A concert that pays tribute to composers Apostolos Kaldaras and Stavros Kougioumtzis at the Camelot Lounge at 7.30pm. Tickets at $30.
17 April A talk, titled “Of Beasts and Men: Iconography and Tales in the 8th-century BC Aegean”, at the Australian Archaeological Institute at Sydney University is presented by Stavros A. Paspalas, the Deputy Director of the Australian Archaeological Institute of Athens. Takes place at 6pm.
2 May George Kouvaros, Christos Tsiolkas and Mary Zournazi discuss “The Old Greeks” in a panel discussion at the Parliament of NSW that makes connections between movies and migration and features photographic images and clips from films discussed in Kouvaros’ recently published book.
3 May An Intimate Night with Dimitris Basis is presented at the Grand Roxy at 7pm. Tickets for the fundraiser are at $100, and include food, dancing and live music.
8 May Steki Taverna offers dining with the theme of “Food, Family, Philotimo”. The culinary journey is presented by chef David Tsirekas, and is inspired by the book “Greek Cafes and Milk Bars of Australia” by Leonard Janiszewski and Effy Alexakis.
10-12 May Soti Triantafyllou’s work, “Pittsburgh”, focuses on poverty, hunger and refugees in Chios in 1913. The tale of love and struggles is performed at the Greek Theatre-Mantouridion. Tickets at $30.
15 May A concert by Dimitris Basis, titled “Byzantium to Zorba: A Musical Odyssey”, is presented at St George’s Hall
16 May Dr Anthony Dracopoulos presents a lecture, titled “Tracing the Course of European Hellenism”, at the Greek Community Club at 7pm. The event is in Greek.
May 24 A performance of Mikis Theodorakis’ classic anthem of Greek identity and other well-loved works, titled “Romiosyni and Beyond”, features international vocalist Dimitris Basis and is performed at the City Recital Hall.