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Theodorakis - Ritsos 1974
It has been fifty years since Mikis Theodorakis set Yiannis Ritsos’s Epitaphios to music, transforming his own life and Greek popular music forever.

Indeed, the history of Epitaphios, both as a poem and as a song cycle, and of its reception by various sectors of the Greek population, reflects so much of modern Greece’s postwar history that it deserves a chapter in any textbook on the period.

Ritsos was quite proud of the fact that the book was publicly burned by the regime of General Metaxas and remained on the list of banned books longer than any other text.

For Theodorakis, the poems of Epitaphios not only inspired a splendid cycle of songs; they also prompted him to abandon a burgeoning career as a classical composer in Europe and return to immerse himself in the cultural and political life of Greece.

For most Greeks, Grigoris Bithikotsis’s recording of Epitaphios, which mingled elements of the popular rembetika music with sophisticated, politically charged poetry, marked the beginning of an exciting new movement that broke down the barrier between “high” and “low” culture.

Onassis Cultural Center, Thursday, October 16, 2008, at 7:00 p.m.

Introduction by Professor Gail Holst-Warhaft
Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Cornell University

Lina Orfanos, lyric soprano
The Poetica Ensemble:
- Sophia Anastasia, flute
- Spiros Exaras, guitar, musical direction
- Martin Neron, piano
- Mathias Kunzli, percussion
- Kostas Psarros, bouzouki

Reception to follow at the Atrium Cafe.
Reservations for this concert began October 3; please call 212-486-8314.

Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA)

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