Athens State Orchestra Celebrates 80th Year with Hadjidakis Tribute

Performing as part of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, the KOA will perform “Gioconda’s Smile” and “The Birds” on July 18.

On Monday, July 18, as part of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, the audience at the Odeon of Herod Atticus will be treated to a night of music by the legendary Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis (1925-1994), in a special event to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the Athens State Orchestra (KOA). Under the musical direction of Loukas Karytinos, the orchestra will perform a tribute to the great composer, performing many of his most beloved songs. Hadjdakis, widely considered one of Greece’s greatest and most internationally renowned composers, served as its director from 1976-1982.

The concert will feature “Gioconda’s Smile” and “The Birds,” two of the composer’s most iconic works, with performances by soprano Christina Poulitsi and baritone Tasis Christogiannopoulos, accompanied by the ERT Choir (conducted by Michalis Papapetrou), the choir of the Musical Ensembles of the Municipality of Athens, and the Rosarte Children’s Choir.


“The Birds” (Ornithes Tou Aristofani), with lyrics by Vassilis Rotas and music by Hadjidakis, was a musical piece that has made history, and which Karytinos says “has marked me since childhood and accompanies me until this very day.” The conductor adds that “Hadjidakis was one of the most charming people I have ever met. I believe he delivered lessons in morality and aesthetics.”

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“Music, and especially music by Manos Hadjidakis, is not something to be viewed as a challenge or something that presents ‘difficulties’. It is an invitation, an erotic invitation, an invitation to a relationship with the other and with our own self, the obvious but above all the hidden, the secret. That is its difficulty essentially, to let go, to surrender to a Joconda (Mona Lisa) and her enigmatic smile. To dare to fly with Aristophanes’ imagination into the world of the Ornithes, between gods and men, and to allow sensations and feelings of childhood, adolescence, adulthood, humanity and love to be revealed to you,” says Christogiannopoulos.

“What could be more ideal than experiencing this with music by the Athens State Orchestra, a well-established society of people, sounds and dreams? And this to be led by the conductor, Loukas Karytinos, who is so profoundly experienced in knowing how to unfold and reveal the musical qualities of every musician he meets, but also with the sublime singing of Christina Poulitsis and the accompaniment of three wonderful choirs. A truly romantic rendezvous on a July evening under the Acropolis. What could be more beautiful?”

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