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7th ANO International Organ Festival – One of the liveliest cultural institutions of Syros

For the 7th consecutive year, the ANO International Organ Festival, Ano Syros, concluded with great success its events. The festival is organized by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syros, in cooperation with the Syros Greek Catholic Association. This year, the events of the festival comprised one exhibition and four concerts all of which gathered intense interest and drew particularly favorable comments by those who were given the opportunity to attend the festival.

The festival opened on Monday, August 21, with Gianluca Libertucci, organist for the Vicariate of the Vatican City at St. Peter’s Basilica. In St. George’s Cathedral, Ano Syros, which was filled to capacity, Gianluca Libertucci gave a dazzling performance before an audience enraptured by his virtuosity, choice of repertory, and haunting interpretation. The concert’s greatest surprise was the Italian virtuoso’s adaptation of Markos Vambakaris’ legendary “Fragkosyriani” following a proposal by Stefanos Tsialis, the festival’s new Artistic Director. The iconic song effortlessly left the musical staff to enter successfully the pipes of Greece’s oldest ecclesiastical organ.

The festival continued on Wednesday, August 23, with a one-of-a-kind synergy between two superb musicians: Organist Michal Markuszewski (Poland) and horn soloist Martina Reitmann (Germany). Their repertory ranged from compositions by W. A. Mozart to musical pieces from the “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter”.

The ANO International Organ Festival continued on Friday, August 25, with an incomparable cultural experience for its audience. The event took place at the courtyard of the Sanctuary “Our Lady of Hope” of the Holy Monastery of the Sisters of Mercy. It was there that the public delighted in the concert given by the Athens Classical Players string ensemble, a group composed of Athens State Orchestra virtuosos who masterfully rendered musical works by emblematic composers in an ambience embraced by the light sea breeze in the neoclassical downtown area of Hermoupolis.

The ANO International Organ Festival completed its program on Saturday, August 26, with a concert given by organist Karel Martínek (Czech Republic) and Syros-born soprano Christina Asimakopoulou. Not only did their concert include works by eminent Czech composers and famous arias, it also comprised organ improvisations on poems written by seminal Greek poets.

Throughout the festival, many were those who visited the National Museum of Prague’s exhibition “Famous Czech Composers” which was made possible in collaboration with the Czech Centre Athens.

This year’s festival arrangements included innovations such as the welcome given the audience by three fanfares delivered in St. George’s Cathedral’s courtyard by a wind instrument ensemble of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Syros-Hermoupolis. One more innovation entailed the seminar given to members of the Syros Philaharmonic Orchestra by German horn soloist Martina Reitmann, within the framework of strengthening the festival’s collaboration with various Syros agencies.

As always, the commentary delivered by Nikos Kanellopoulos, the festival’s program consultant, was thoroughly informative, allowing festival audiences to understand the program of the festival’s concerts in detail.

One more creative year for the ANO International Organ Festival has completed its course, thanks to the crucial contribution made by its new Artistic Director, Maestro Stefanos Tsialis, the guidance offered by its Executive Director Charis Vekris and, above all, the support and care shown us by His Excellency Petros Stefanou, Bishop of Syros. This year’s ANO International Organ Festival was characterized by the overwhelming number of visitors to the concerts, an ambiance brimming with enthusiasm, the glowing comments made by concert participants, a strong emotional climate, the high quality of artistic choices, and the festival’s creativity drive which is unfailingly renewed every year. By now, the ANO International Organ Festival has become one of Syros’ most lively cultural institutions, an institution that looks ahead, etching each and every time its own imprint and its own distinctive identity, within and without the borders of Greece.

Photography: Stefanos Mamidis – Yannis Manousos