When Dimitris Basis sings, the audience listens intently. His voice is captivating. It’s colourful, melodic, smooth and endearing. One could listen to him for days!
Last Tuesday evening, 8 June 2021, Dimitris performed under the auspices of the Greek Orthodox Community of Australia and the Greek Festival of Sydney, at St George’s Hall at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in a night titled “200 Years Celebration of Greek Music.”
Students spanning from years 7 to 12 performed complex orchestral pieces written by Manos Hatzidakis, Mikis Theodorakis, Stavros Xarhakos, as well as traditional Greek songs from Missolonghi, Smyrni and songs from pan Hellenic regions, made famous by such artists as Stelios Kazantzidis, Stratos Dionysiou and Dimitris Mitropanos.
These songs were performed to perfection with passion, gusto and a tonne of emotion under the careful musical direction of George Doukas (guitar) and Thanasi Pyllarinos (bouzouki), both staples of the Dimitris Basis band here in Australia, and understandably so.
If you closed your eyes, you would not have known that the music was being performed by young school students. During rehearsals, conductor Emlyn Lewis-Jones nurtured every note to perfection and was heard instructing his orchestral students to play with more dynamics during a section of a song, so as to not sound like a “student orchestra”. Mission accomplished we say! And with flying colours!
Similarly, coordinator of Vocal and Choral Co-curricular Ensembles and director of the Senior Choir Ynping Mak, turned her non-Greek speaking choir into a finely tuned, well versed and perfectly enunciated Greek vocal marvel.
Especially with the haunting and majestic vocals during the song Spasmeno Karavi (Broken Ship), where soprano Izabelle Zammit, Year 11, mesmerised the packed house with her extraordinary vocal tone. There wasn’t a hair that didn’t stand on end.
Another hair-raising moment was when accomplished and much loved local musical talent George Karantonis, was invited to the stage to sing with Dimitris.
Dimitris acknowledged George for his recent rendition of the extended Greek National Anthem at the Sydney Town Hall and the many songs he covered at the City Recital Hall as part of the Dimitris Basis Choir, stating he has a beautiful voice, and that he was honoured to be singing a perfect duet together by Mikis Theodorakis titled Omorfi Poli (Beautiful City).
The two voices blended so well, as if they were made to be heard together, and it was obvious that both George and Dimitris were moved by each other’s performances. It was touching to watch and stirring to listen to.
Dimitris went on to say he has never felt prouder than having Australian born Greeks as well as non-Greeks coming together through Greek music.
His appreciation towards the school, the students, the teachers and all involved to make this night possible, is something he will carry with him as a highpoint of his career forevermore.
“Encore! More! Ki’allo!” The audience gave a standing ovation and pleaded with all the performers to keep playing, but it was a school night after all, and the students needed their rest for school the very next day.
Unfortunately, the night had to come to an end. But fingers crossed, this concert is repeated the next time Dimitris Basis is in town.
All images copyright Nick Bourdaniotis / Bourdo Photography