SIPHNOS – The wonderful concert the evening of August 6 dedicated to Mikis Theodorakis in the courtyard of the Church of the Theologos in the town of Kastro was a spiritual magnet, drawing residents and visitors alike on the island of Siphnos.
Organized by the association ‘Friends of Kastro’ celebrating its 40th anniversary, the concert was funded by the municipality of Siphnos.
The gifted and passionate local artists performed many Theodorakis favorites – ‘lathos’, wrong – the word I am looking for is ‘beloved’, as was revealed by the soulful singing and rhythmic clapping of ‘all the generations’ as they thrilled to the glorious music of the composer and the shimmering lyrics of the great Modern Greek poets.
Very warmly received were the power-ful ‘Arnisi’ – Negation, poetry by Nobel Laureate Giorgos Seferis, the trans-cendent ‘Tis Dikeosinis Ilie Noite’ – The Intelligible Sun of Justice, by No-bel Laureate Odysseas Elytis, and the charming ‘ I Margarita I Margaro,’ words and music written by Theodora-kis in honor of his daughter.
Indeed, the Elytis lyrics ‘και τα σπιτια πιο λευκα’ were more meaningful and resonated more brightly than ever in the hearts of people surrounded by the dazzling white Cycladic houses of the Kastro, the ancient town that rises sheer from the Sea.
‘Όμορφη Πόλη’ – Beautiful City warmed up the audience in the beginning and the most emphatic clapping seemed to accompany the, at first, cheerful and then mournful ‘Η Μυρτια’ – The Myrtle, of Nikos Gatsos. Later, the poignant song ‘Της ξενιτιάς’ (Φεγγάρι μάγια μου ‘κανες) – ‘Foreign Lands – (Moon, you bewitched me) stirred up memories of the people in the audience who had emigrated and then returned to Greece.
A night like that brings together all the elements of Greece’s tourism vision. First, before or after the concert, the fine food – Siphnos is known for its cuisine and the pottery it is often cooked in – sometimes with traditional simplicity, others with modern twists by imaginative chefs there.
Second, its music, which in some settings like baptisms, weddings, and ‘panigyria’ seems to grow out of the ground and rise to the mountaintops. Last, but not least, the ‘philoxenia’ – the hospitality of the people of Kastro that perfects the rest of the experiences.
Sometimes the musicians at concerts have to prompt the people to sing and clap, but not that night – the audience participation was part of the magic on Theologos Square that overlooks the southeastern tip of Kastro – which one suddenly realizes has the form of the prow of a ship!
Prompted by the gentle breeze rising from the sea, the artists took everyone along with them on their musical journey, sailing on the notes they sang and played above the eternal Aegean, seemingly led by a single bright star just beyond the hilltop town that from afar appears to float above the ancient sea.
On that night, a lovely half-moon joined the crew just off the starboard side.
CULTURAL TOURISM HELPS GREECE GO FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH
Greece has done a great job at all governmental levels, with cooperation by the public and private sector, promoting culture through events on the islands, in the mainland towns, and even in the smallest villages with art exhibitions, concerts, festivals, and lectures. They are part of the forces that turn a visit to Greece into the experience of a lifetime, not just a ‘check’ on the bucket list.
These are not accidents. The artists prepared for months. Takis Theophanos delighted on guitar along with Despina Syrigou’s lilting violin and Stratos Syrigos on bouzouki. Flora Rafeletou was the music director and played piano.
Antonis Moschoutis sang and surprised the ‘Amerikanakia’ with his harmonica and Ntina Atsoniou’s rich, lyrical voice charmed the audience. Entrepreneur Othonas Theophanous, brewer of the famous Flaros beer from the island, sang, narrated, and introduced the association, of which he is president, and the musicians.