Stelios Tsiolas was a highly respected composer and conductor who garnered accolades in Greece, Cyprus and Australia for his work. He made a name for presenting unique variations of well-known Greek compositions by greats like Theodorakis, as well as original work for festivals, theatre and film.

According to reports, he suffered a heart attack on Tuesday. He passed away in hospital on Wednesday afternoon with his wife Rula and their children by his side.

A career highlight was Tsiolas’s role as Assistant Conductor to Mikis Theodorakis for the presentation of the oratorio Axion Esti at the Perth Festival with the WASO – West Australia Symphony Orchestra. Under the auspices of the Festival, it lasted two weeks, and all rehearsals took place at the University of Perth.

Tsiolas worked with Theodorakis in the final rehearsals before the performance, which he described as unforgettable.

“Working with this great composer touched me both professionally and personally. Every rehearsal was a lesson for me. My experience didn’t stop there. I was honoured to receive several invitations from the great master to spend time with him after rehearsals.”

“Through reading, writing, adapting his scores, and the texts we shared at that time, I experienced the man, the resistance fighter, the great Hellene. He told us about personal events during the dictatorship and spoke to us with trust and love,” the late Tsiolas said.

Stelios Tsiolas working with the great Miki Theodorakis. Photo: Supplied

Through the activities of the expatriate composer Stelios Tsiolas, the younger generation of Greeks born in Australia had the opportunity to meet some of the most significant figures of the Greek artistic scene, such as Mikis Theodorakis.

Tsiolas’ career is intimidating; he composed scores for many plays, including Sophocles’ Antigone, T. Lyssiotis’ ‘On the Line’ and Varvara Karanikola’s ‘Immortal Spirit.’

In August 1988, Stelios Tsiolas was one of eight composers from across the world who participated in ‘Greek Composers of the Diaspora’ in Athens under the auspices of the late actor and arts minister and Return of the Marbles advocate Melina Mercouri. In 1989, he also conducted the modern oratorio At Dawn under the patronage of Androulla Vassiliou, the wife of the then President of Cyprus, George Vassiliou.

In September 2004, Stelios Tsiolas conducted a choir of 30 people from Melbourne at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Athens. In 2005, with Douglas Heywood, he arranged and conducted the Victorian Concert Orchestra at the Melbourne Festival with singer Michalis Hatzigiannis.

Stelios Tsiolas with local musicians.  Photo: Supplied.

Stelios Tsiolas was born in Cyprus. He began composing at 12, and at 15, he began performing his compositions at local music festivals. In August 1974, after the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey, Tsiolas, along with another 250,000 Greek Cypriots, were forced out of their homes and in December 1976, he migrated to Australia.