Saturday, February 2, 2008

Municipal Orchestra of Athens

I continue going out on concerts in Athens, with a little more zeal than in the previous years. Last Saturday, Jan. 26th, I heard the Municipal Orchestra of Athens in a rather unusual concert venue: a place that I was not aware of as a concert hall, the Byzantine museum of Athens. Briefly, not the best place of the city for a classical music concert, with mediocre acoustics, while the metallic chairs did not help either.

As always, admission was free, and the usual not-used-to-classical-music audience came to listen. You can read about that here. In the program, Beethoven's third piano concerto, Haydn's symphony nr 99 in e flat major, and a dance suite for strings by the Greek composer Giannis Erenidis. In the podium the young talented Andreas Tselikas, and soloist the even younger Andreas Koutropoulos from Thessaloniki. The former was a prizewinner at the last Sibelius conducting competition (2005) in Helsinki, where I met him, the latter was uknown to me, though he had heard me in his hometown in the earlier years.

Both of them did their best in this concert. Actually, after this battle I believe that the pianist can play with any orchestra in any venue... A disturbing photographer in the first half -joined at the end of it from another "colleague"- did her best -and later their- to distroy any effort of concentration either from the side of the musicians or the audience. The latter of course was not exactly very quite, but I could ignore them most of the time while I was trying to listen to the music... Luckily, the concertmaster did ask her to stop doing her "job" during the intermission.

I liked the young pianist (b. 1987 -ten years after me) and he looked very confident on stage. The Yamaha C7 was not of course the best instrument for this work. With a very good CV, and up-to-come concerts here and there with demanding programs- his future seems to be very promising.

The conductor, a bit older, very talented as well, did a splendid job with the orchestra. He seems however, to be lost in a series of problems, like most of his young Greek colleagues in this country. In fact, it was very surprising to read a letter of a reader to the Greek newspaper "TA NEA" -later the same week (!!!)- concerning this very orchestra and the problems it faces during its short lifespan. You can find this letter -in Greek- here. Normal people (non-musicians) start to see the problems of this art and react -however they can. Does it have any results? Probably not, but raising a voice is more than nothing some times.

Inspite of this, there are some positive sides in the story. The orchestra starts to gather around it a loyal audience. It gives concerts more often than the last coupld of years, in diverse venues of the city. It keeps its doors open to everyone, and as far as the music itself is concerned, young soloists and conductors find an alternative podium for their talent. Furthermore, they are getting better and better. In all a good concert, though I was not impressed like the previous time I heard them this season. Cheers!

buzz it!

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