Σάββατο, 28 Ιανουαρίου 2012

State Conservatory of Thessaloniki: A Century of Musical Offering

Here is a video from the performance of students of the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki, with the Municipal Orchestra of Thessaloniki under the musical direction of Vladimiros Symeonidis and the collaboration of the Mixed Choir of Thessaloniki (director Mairi Konstantinidou). The performance took place in January, in the second stage of the Concert Hall of Thessaloniki. 


State Conservatory of Thessaloniki (Greek - English letter of demands)


ΑΚΡΩΤΗΡΙΑΣΜΕΝΟ ΤΟ ΚΡΑΤΙΚΟ ΩΔΕΙΟ ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗΣ ΠΡΟΣΠΑΘΕΙ ΝΑ ΕΠΙΒΙΩΣΕΙ

Η γενικότερη κρίση απειλεί βαθιά πια και την ύπαρξη του Κρατικού Ωδείου Θεσσαλονίκης (ΚΩΘ).

Ζωτικά τμήματα οργάνων δεν λειτουργούν, οι καθηγητές στην πλειοψηφία τους και το υπόλοιπο προσωπικό με συμβάσεις εργασίας παραμένουν απλήρωτοι από τον Ιανουάριο του 2011, η αντιμετώπιση των λειτουργικών εξόδων είναι πια δυσβάστακτη.

Το ΚΩΘ προσέφερε γενιές μουσικών, καλλιτεχνών της πράξης, θεωρητικών και παιδαγωγών στην Ελλάδα και το εξωτερικό.

Η Κρατική Ορχήστρα Θεσσαλονίκης ξεπήδησε από τους κόλπους του.

Μια πυκνή συναυλιακή δραστηριότητα γνώρισε στην πόλη τον γοητευτικό κόσμο της σοβαρής μουσικής.

Το νομικό πρότυπο του ΚΩΘ λειτουργεί ως πρότυπο για όλα τα ωδεία της χώρας.

Και βέβαια, όσοι νέοι και νέες ασχολούνται με την μουσική, αναδεικνύουν την φαντασία τους, πλαταίνουν την οργάνωση της σκέψης τους, καλλιεργούν την ευαισθησία τους.

ΖΗΤΟΥΜΕ

Να μην καταστραφεί ό,τι με στερήσεις και αυτοθυσία στήθηκε από το 1914 στην πόλη για την ουσιαστική μουσική παιδεία.

Να εξακολουθήσει η ζείδωρη χρηματοδότηση του έργου του ΚΩΘ με συνέπεια, συνέχεια και σεβασμό.

Να ξαναβρεθούν η παιδεία και η τέχνη στην προτεραιότητα που τους αξίζει.

Δημήτρης Ιωάννου
Καθηγητής ΚΩΘ





THE AMPUTATED STATE CONSERVATORY OF THESSALONIKI FIGHTS FOR SURVIVAL

The grobal crisis is now a big threat to the existence of the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki (SCT).

Vital courses of instruments have been shut down, most music teachers and the rest of the assistant staff with limited time business agreements remain unpaid since January of 2011, covering of directly incurred costs has become unbearable.

The SCT has trained generations of musicians, artists of performance, theorists and educators who are now active in Greece and abroad.

The State Symphony Orchestra of Thessaloniki was conceived and created by musicians of the SCT.

A dense performing activity introduced the city to the charming world of serious music.

The legal framework of the SCT is the model for every other conservatory of Greece.

And of course, all young people who study music, use their imagination more often, broaden their horizons, organize their thoughts more efficiently and cultivate their sensitivity.

WE ASK

That everything that was created through self-sacrifice and hardships in 1914 for the music education of the city not be destroyed.

That the life-sustaining funding of the SCT and its projects not be stopped but delivered with consistency, continuity and respect.

That education and art become top priorities in our lives once again.

 Dimitris Ioannou
Teacher at SCT


Κυριακή, 15 Ιανουαρίου 2012

Opera Quiz No. 3

Question No. 3:

How many women did Don Giovanni "satisfy" in total?
a. 2063
b. 1988
c. 1003
d.  734

Answer to Quiz No. 2:

The correct answer is b. "Madness", which drives Lucia to sing her aria "Il dolce suono", after she has stabbed her newly-wed husband. Dripping blood, still holding the murder weapon in her hands, she fantasizes of a wedding with her true lover.

Congratulations to Arepo who answered correctly!

Παρασκευή, 6 Ιανουαρίου 2012

Opera Quiz No. 2

Question No. 2:


In which mental state does the protagonist of "Lucia di Lammermoor" sing her most famous aria?
a. Love
b. Madness
c. Hatred
d. Happiness

Answer to Quiz No. 1:

The correct answer is d. "Les contes d'Hoffmann"; the other three fall under the category of "operetta". However, there exists a second - relatively unknown - opera from Offenbach: "Die Rheinnixen".

Congratulations to Smorg, who asnwered correctly! I wish I had a prize to give out every time, but... financial crisis makes this slightly impossible! For now...

"The Story of the Weeping Camel" and what we can learn from it.

Today, I had the chance to see this fantastic documentary-movie "The Story of the Weeping Camel" again and while watching it, a number of thoughts came to me.
First, these people there, living in harsh conditions, completely isolated from what we today call "the civilized world", are perfectly happy. They have each other, they have their herds of camels and sheep, they have their portable homes, they have the entire steppe to explore. Their exposure to technology is relatively minimal, although, in the end, they do buy a TV set, complete with satellite dish, to satisfy the younger boys' wish. 
Second, they have a stronger connection with Religion and Tradition. They make food offerings to their gods and they open their houses to everyone, without asking for anything in return. They are simple, but not simple minded. They speak little, because there is no need for them to say many things. And in the evening, the grandfather gathers the family around the fire and tells them stories and legends.
But the movie is - above all else - the story of a camel and how traditional music changed it. In case you haven't seen the movie yet, I will not spoil the ending for you. But I will talk about the music part. It is extremely interesting to hear that they have a music ritual to fix a camel with a particular problem. The people in the film didn't come up with the idea, it is part of a tradition; which means, that an ancestor once realized that music had healing effects on camels! Nowadays scientists have proven the healing effects of music on a variety of things - there is even a man who plays Mozart to his grapes to make them grow and produce better juice... But to see how people who have no access to hard science, only through observation, understood that, is simply incredible. I believe that it is incredible for two reasons: first, it shows how important a role music has had ever since the dawn of civilization and second, that as a collective, humans and animals alike, benefit from the harmonics of music and song. 
I know that I am not saying anything groundbrakingly novel here. But it is a small realization, that makes me feel comfortable and all warm inside. All I can say is, in case you haven't seen the movie, see it; and if you have seen it, then maybe dwell on the importance of the music ritual in it and see if you can transer it in your life - not necessarily with the particular music of the film, but with the kind of music that makes you feel good and happy! 

Τρίτη, 3 Ιανουαρίου 2012

Επιστολή-αίτηση στήριξης του αγώνα του Κ.Ω.Θ.


Ο Θανάσης Παπαϊσίου γράφει:

Όταν τα κύτταρα ενός οργανισμού φθαρούν ανεπανόρθωτα, τότε ο οργανισμός πεθαίνει. Τα κύτταρα του Κρατικού Ωδείου Θεσσαλονίκης, οι μαθητές και οι εργαζόμενοι, έχουν πληγωθεί βαθιά και άγρια τον τελευταίο καιρό. Οι μη ανανεώσεις των συμβάσεων, η μειωμένη επιχορήγηση, η επιλεκτική αδιαφορία του αρμόδιου Υπουργείου Πολιτισμού έχουν συρρικνώσει και ακρωτηριάσει το Ωδείο, αλλά δεν το έχουν σκοτώσει. Τουλάχιστον όχι ακόμα. Γιατί τα ζωτικά του όργανα, η καρδιά και ο εγκέφαλος είναι ζωντανά και εύρωστα. Η καρδιά και το μυαλό του Ωδείου είμαστε όλοι εμείς, οι καθηγητές, οι μαθητές, οι γονείς, οι διοικητικοί υπάλληλοι, οι φίλοι του Ωδείου, οι άνθρωποι που το αγαπάμε και το πονάμε. Κι εμείς έχουμε τη βούληση να σώσουμε το Ωδείο. Κι όταν υπάρχει βούληση, τότε εμφανίζονται και επιλογές και λύσεις.
Στους παρακάτω συνδέσμους και ηλεκτρονικές διευθύνσεις μπορούμε να γράψουμε ένα υποστηρικτικό σχόλιο, να κάνουμε ένα ‘like’, ή έστω απλά να ενημερωθούμε για την πραγματική κατάσταση του Ωδείου.
Είναι καιρός να κάνουμε γνωστό σε όλους πως το Ωδείο δεν είναι μία ακόμη δημόσια υπηρεσία που πρέπει να τελεί υπό διωγμόν καθώς είθισται στη σύγχρονη Ελλάδα. Είναι το μοναδικό δημόσιο ωδείο της χώρας, η προσφορά της ίδιας της Ελλάδας στα Ελληνόπουλα που θέλουν να σπουδάσουν μουσική. Είναι ο χώρος όπου καλλιεργούνται ψυχές με αγάπη κι αυταπάρνηση. Δεν είναι τυχαίο που οι εδώ και ένα χρόνο απλήρωτοι καθηγητές συνεχίζουν το εκπαιδευτικό και καλλιτεχνικό τους έργο εντός του Ωδείου με αμείωτους και ίσως και αυξημένους ρυθμούς. Το κάνουν αυτό γιατί αγαπούν τα παιδιά, αγαπούν το Ωδείο, αγαπούν αυτό το οποίο ευλογήθηκαν στη ζωή τους να κάνουν, τη μουσική.
Σταματάμε λοιπόν να καθόμαστε δίπλα από το προσκέφαλο του ασθενή περιμένοντας το θάνατό του. Ξεκινάμε τις δράσεις με μια απλή αιμοδοσία αγάπης κι ενδιαφέροντος προς το Ωδείο. Ενημερωνόμαστε γι αυτό και κοινοποιούμε τα προβλήματά του σε όσους περισσότερους μπορούμε. Οι λύσεις μερικές φορές έρχονται από εκεί που δεν το περιμένουμε.

Με τιμή,
Θανάσης Παπαϊσίου
Καθηγητής του ακρωτηριασμένου δημόσιου Κρατικού Ωδείου Θεσσαλονίκης

Δευτέρα, 2 Ιανουαρίου 2012

Opera Quiz No.1

I am also introducing an opera quiz. Every time I make a new entry, you will find a question with four possible solutions. The correct answer will be given with the next entry. All questions and answers are from the "Experten Quiz: Oper" by NGV. 


Question No. 1:


Which of the following works by Jacques Offenbach is considered his only opera?
a. Orphee aux enfers
b. La vie parisienne
c. Barbe-bleue
d. Les contes d'Hoffmann

Henry Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Happy 2012 all around! One of my New Year resolutions is to try harder and write more often on my blog, because this year is going to be somewhat opera-deprived for me (financial crisis and other problems being the reason). So, hopefully, by writing about it, I will be able to cover the void somewhat... And the obvious thing is for me to - finally - start making the "Diaries" part a reality, for, you must have noticed that, I am not really keeping a diary yet... Anyway, I hope that I will be able to come up with a new entry, at least every week, and I hope that you will enjoy reading them.
Every diary has a first entry. Mine has had one very short, which had nothing to do with my first operatic experience, obviously. So, here goes nothing:
My first operatic experience came when I was 7. My mother, being a musicologist and working at the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki, made sure to take me to as many concerts she could. My father of course endorsed that decision, because he too is a music lover and a professor of Philosophy, so it was only natural that he would want his daughter to be well educated and cultivated from an early age. Therefore, when the Conservatory's lyric class produced Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" my mother dragged me along, to what was going to be my first and most traumatic experience with opera. Anyone acquainted with this particular work, knows very well that it is not "child - friendly" - the Queen dies in the end and there are some really mean witches involved as well. One would think that such tragic stuff should be introduced at a later age in a child's life. Anyway, I didn't get a say in the decision, and so I did go. I honestly do not remember anything about the music or the production we saw (of course, now, being older and mature, I know a great deal about the music and the story, but the production still eludes me - maybe I should try a hypnotist). What I do remember is being dragged to the dressing rooms to congratulate the singers, because we were acquainted with them through the Conservatory. Everybody back then knew me and I knew them. But, imagine a 7 year old's shock, when the singers she supposedly knew, were still dressed in their costumes! The big problem was with the witches... They were scary, I can tell you that much! I hid behind my mother and nothing could coax me out from my - very obvious - hiding place. I was terrified and I did make a fool out of myself. However, one cannot expect from a 7 year old to understand the difference between stage reality and Reality. Of course, nowadays, I can laugh about the whole incident; back then though, it didn't seem so funny... 
After this traumatic first experience, one would also expect that I would make a huge turn away from opera and opera singers in general, whether I knew them personally or not. It only makes sense that I would be scared for the rest of my life of opera! Somehow, however, and I don't know how, I kept going (to different operas, I have yet to see a "Dido and Aeneas" live again, although I have seen a production on DVD). Apparently the shock wasn't as great as I originally thought. And obviously, the next opera I was taken to wasn't as dramatic as the first, but more suitable for children. Apart from my great affection for the genre, two more things happened: first, I feel a particular affinity towards operas of the barock era and second I have an obsession with witches (more on that will come in future entries). 
I guess I now have to turn my attention to the opera's plot and music. "Dido and Aeneas" has caused a lot of debate among musicologists, particularly because some of them do not regard it as an opera, but a semi-opera. In my opinion, however, I do believe that "Dido and Aeneas" is an opera. Yes, it is relatively short, slightly over an hour, but Alban Berg's "Wozzeck" is also a short opera. Sometimes, in shortness there is perfection (as is the case both with Purcell's opera and "Wozzeck"). And why should the length of a work be the deciding factor for categorizing something? Size doesn't matter, right? Well, that is an entirely different subject... "Dido and Aeneas" is an opera for one very simple reason: it is sung throughout. There are no spoken dialogues, no interruptions in the music. It flows from beginning to end without a pause. 
And what beautiful music it is too! There is a lot of serious drama in the whole score. There are frightening moments as well, especially in the witches' scenes! Purcell makes an excellent use of various musical tricks, like the echoes to create an even greater effect with his language. Of course, there is also Dido's incredible lament at the end - "Thy hand Belinda... When I am laid in Earth" - that can change one's life! The simplicity and genius of this composition has been praised by musicologists and critics over and over again. I can only say, if you haven't listened to the music, simply do so and you will be convinced of the verity of the statements. There are a number of interesting recordings of the particular opera. What's even greater about it, is that it only takes up about an hour of your life, unlike Wagner for example. Surely you can spare an hour in your life...
As far as the libretto is concerned, well that was created by Nahum Tate according to Virgil's famous story in his "Aeneid". It is a tightly knit text, very poetic - it couldn't have been any different, because English tradition in poetry was already filled with great poets and Purcell only worked with the best, like John Dryden. The action moves forward seemlessly and the main characters are very well drawn. The changes in the setting, from the palace, to the witches' lair, to the hunting grounds, back to the palace again are very natural and do not raise any particular questions, as is the case in other operas. The addition of the witches - they do not appear in Virgil's poem - is a strike of genius, because it gives the composer the opportunity to show off his incredible skills. And, aside from that, it makes the whole opera distinctly British. Without the witches, the whole thing would have been dramatically less potent. I am not criticizing Virgil's version, obviously not. But Virgil didn't need the witches, because his hero in the poem was Aeneas, not Dido. By creating a counterpoint to Dido with the introduction of the witches, the whole abbandonment scene becomes even stronger. The witches desire vengeance for an unnamed wrong made to them by Dido, and they succeed in getting it. The sad Queen is a victim of supernatural powers, Love included... And whenever supernatural powers are involved, the plot thickens and the dramatic potency of the story increases significantly. All in all, its a great opera. It may not conform to the rules of the "lieto fine" - the happy ending - but these rules were not established yet. And anyway, it couldn't have ended differently, because otherwise, Rome would never have been founded! 
So, do take your time and listen to it, if you want. And if you have even more time, why not read the original poem as well? It is, after all, a classic of European literature... As is Purcell's version!