Monday 21 December 2020
Watch the concert:
On Monday, December 21, at 20:30, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) presents, at the Stavros Niarchos Hall, the ERT Greek Radio National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the multi-award-winning maestro George Petrou, in a special concert for the whole family that will usher in the festive spirit of Christmas. The festive schedule that will excite young and old alike includes Sergey Prokofiev's famous musical fairytale Peter and the Wolf, Camille Saint Saens' orchestral suite Carnival of the Animals and Ralph Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on Greensleeves.
The evening's festivities will open with two short but rhythmical marches that will bring us into the joyful mood of the holidays: the march from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, the quintessential Christmas ballet, and the march from Sergey Prokofiev's opera The Love for Three Oranges.
Then, we will enjoy Fantasia on Greensleeves by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The British composer wrote this orchestral miniature in 1934, inspired by the traditional English folk song "Greensleeves". Ralph Vaughan Williams had originally composed this particular piece as part of his opera Sir John in love. In the composer's hands, the famous medieval tune becomes a wonderful piece of music, lasting only four minutes, that manages to capture in musical notes the very essence of the British countryside.
Up next is The Carnival of the Animals (1886), French composer Camille Saint Saens' most famous work; a "zoological fantasy, as the composer himself describes it in the work's subtitle, "grande fantaisie zoologique". The Carnival of the Animals is an orchestral suite consisting of 14 images, each one described by a different animal in a masquerade ball: the lion, the elephant, the turtles, the chickens, the fish, the cuckoo, etc. With humor, imagination and ingenuity, the composer gives each of the animals in the carnival a voice through the instruments of the orchestra. The result is a whimsical piece of music that has been loved by several generations of listeners of all ages. The piano soloists for this performance by the ERT National Symphony Orchestra will be George Petrou and Nefeli Mousoura.
Our evening draws to a close with Peter and the Wolf, the musical fairytale written in 1936 by one of greatest composes of the 20th century, the Russian Sergey Prokofiev, with the aim of encouraging the love of music in children. In his composition, Prokofiev assigns each of the fairytale's heroes a musical voice. Each instrument of the orchestra corresponds to one of the characters in the story: Peter is represented by the strings, the bird by the flute, the cat by the clarinet, the grandfather by the bassoon, the wolf by the French horn, and the hunters by the kettle drums (timpani) and bass drum. Thus, as children listen to the melody, they begin to identify the musical images of the composition that supplement the fairytale, just like the pictures on the pages of a book. Notes and words come together beautifully, in a work that is universally recognized as one of the masterpieces of music for children. Narrating the fairytale is the actor Lefteris Eleftheriou.
The ERT Greek Radio National Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1938 and covers the classical, Greek and international repertoire. It has presented works by prominent Greek and international composers, maestros and researchers, through recordings, live radio and television performances, and concerts in Athens and the whole of Greece. The ERT Greek Radio National Symphony Orchestra has welcomed, as guest directors, a number of Greek and foreign conductors and internationally acclaimed composers, such as Dimitri Mitropoulos, Miltiades Caridis, Yehudi Menuhin, and many others, and has been joined, in the role of soloists, by several famous artists, such as Gina Bachauer, Jose Carreras, Agnes Baltsa, Montserrat Caballe, Placido Domingo, and Angela Gheorghiu, to name but a few. It has performed in many festivals worldwide, and is considered one of the most dynamic, accomplished and active symphonic ensembles in Greece.
George Petrou, one of the top orchestra conductors in Greece, has enjoyed an illustrious career, with frequent appearances in major theaters and concert halls across the globe. He regularly partners with acclaimed orchestras, with a large part of his conducting work focused on opera. At the same time, he has developed a keen interest in stage directing, with numerous successful opera and musical theater productions to his name. He has been honored with the ECHO KLASSIK prize, and received a nomination for a Grammy award in 2018. He has been awarded the title of “Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the French government, and the honorary title of “Associate” (ARAM) by the Royal Academy of Music in London. The Association of Greek Critics of Music and Drama awarded him the Grand Prize for Music in 2018. From 2021, he will assume the role of artistic director of the historic Göttingen International Handel Festival. He is the artistic director of the Camerata – The Friends of Music Orchestra, which is known internationally as Armonia Atenea. He studied piano at the Athens Conservatoire, and completed his studies at the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music in London, on scholarships by the Royal Academy and the Onassis Foundation.
Monday 21/12, 20.30
STAVROS NIARCHOS HALL
You may watch the event live on this page, as well as on the SNFCC’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel @SNFCC.