From music to theatre and dance, the Greek Festival celebrates its 56th anniversary this summer. Founded in 1955 as the Athens Festival, its bar was set high right from the start, with Dimitris Mitropoulos leading the New York Philharmonic in one of the event’s curtain-raising performances. It has since hosted living legends including Maria Callas, Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn. In its current form, the event faces the challenge of attracting younger audiences, with Giorgos Loukos, president of the organisation’s board of directors, seeking a balance between established and avant-garde works.
The festival’s foundations were originally built on great orchestras and Greek drama, with dance entering the picture later on. Besides luring local and international audiences to Athens and Epidaurus, the event has also acted as a platform for Greek artists to meet their foreign counterparts.
Here are some of the festival’s summer 2014 highlights:
The Kyklos Ensemble, led for the first time by Greek-born, Russia-based Teodor Currentzis, will perform Schubert’s Winterreise, a composed interpretation for tenor and small orchestra by Hans Zender, at the Athens Concert Hall on June 14-15. The event is billed as a multimedia performance.
Nana Mouskouri, the best-selling Greek singer of all times, will bring her Happy Birthday Tour to the Herod Atticus Theatre on July 14. Joined by her daughter Lenou and other musicians, Mouskouri will celebrate what she refers to as her “good fortune in having got so far in life thanks to my songs, their creators and the love of the people”.
Legendary ‘laiko’ (urban folk music) vocalist Mary Linda will take to the Herod Atticus stage on June 25 for a trip down memory lane.
For information regarding events, venues and tickets, visit www.greekfestival.gr