Australian Hellenic Choir Benefit for Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies, University of Sydney

Australian Hellenic Choir Benefit for Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies, University of Sydney

On Sunday evening, the Australian Hellenic Choir took its performance to a new level, singing some of Greece's most symbolic and beautiful songs. Their performance of Romiosini stirred the near-capacity audience in the Great Hall to tears.

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The Great Hall University of Sydney

Conductor Leon Vitogiannis led the Choir and orchestra through a repertoire of beautiful songs selected in conjunction with Professor Vrasidas Karalis, Chair of the Department of Modern Greek and Byzantine studies, which hosted the event in the Great Hall at the University of Sydney. All net proceeds will go to the Department.

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Conductor Leon Vitogiannis

With a distinguished guest list including the Consulate General of Greece in Sydney, Mr Christos Karras, The President of the Greek Community of NSW, Mr Harry Danalis, His Grace Bishop Christodoulos of Magnesia, Mr Themos Mexis, and Dr Panagiotis Diamandis from AHEPA NSW, the concert began with an instrumental suite, locally composed by Stefanos Maragkakis, the Choir's Pianist.

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Left to Right: Professor Dracopoulos / Nia Karteris / James Tsolakis / Consul Christos Karras / Dr Panagiotis Diamandis / His Grace Bishop Christodolou of Magnesia / Professor Karalis / Themis Mexis / Professor Vincent

Professor Karalis welcomed the audience, saying: "In the last 30 years, thousands of students have passed through the doors of the Department of Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies with a passion for learning Greek literature, cinema, art, politics and the Greek language".

He continued: "Today's songs have been selected from that never-ending Greek music library that spans hundreds of years. They symbolize the various stages of Greek life over the past 100 years. Greek music tells the stories of love, battle, tragedy and hope. Compositions are connected with the lyric poetry of our greatest poets.   I urge all Australian Greeks to engage in our Greekness".

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Professor Karalis

The Choir's President, Mr James Tsolakis, welcomed the audience: "Since its foundation in 2018, the Choir has made a significant impact on the Greek Community.   With over 40 singing members, a committee, and our music director Mr Leon Vitogiannis, we have delighted our audiences with some of the best music and songs from our beautiful Greece," he said.

Mr Tsolakis continued: "The Choir is a resource for the Community. It is a place to learn Greek music, the Greek language, and tell our stories from history." He thanked the Choir and expressed his profound thanks to the Choir's Music Director, Mr Leon Vitogiannis. "Leon is the shining light of Greek music in Australia today", he concluded.

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The Choir's President, Mr James Tsolakis

The concert's first part featured songs from Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hadjidakis. The choral performance of songs such as Odos Onieron, Tsamikos, Arnisi and Omofi Poli was simply stunning. In conclusion, the Choir also sang several songs from Constantinople and Smyrna.

The concert also featured a performance from the Pontoxeniteas Dancers of the Serra. Dressed in war costumes, the performers danced to the beat of the music and the Daoli, stirring the audience in this 100th-year remembrance of the Pontian genocide.   Mrs Maria Anthony, President of Pontoxeniteas, graciously provided the dancers and Daoli player, 15-year-old Prodromos Mousiadis.

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Pontoxeniteas Dancers

The concert was a great success, with the audience rising to its feet in a standing ovation and asking for more. Conductor Leon Vitogiannis reacted, growing the Choir and Orchestra to another song.

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The Australian Hellenic Choir is a multicultural and multilingual Choir with, in addition to Greek singers, several Australian and Italian singers in its ranks. Anyone wishing to join the Choir should contact James Tsolakis on 0416 060 700. 

Photo gallery of the evening.

Photos Copyright : Nick Bourdaniotis / Bourdo Photography

Nick Bourdaniotis

Director of Photography

Born in Nambour, Queensland, Nick Bourdaniotis grew up in Brisbane till 2001 and then moved to Sydney. Nick's passion for photography began from a young age and his unique and artistic approach to capturing a moment in time ensures his images are always a standout. In his late 30s, his peers pushed him into being a professional photographer as he was taking amazing holiday photos from around the world and here in Sydney. In his mid-40s, Nick's photos were recognized internationally in the Greek community and used in international and local Australian-based publications. Photographing for St Spyridon College is when Nick took his first iconic global photo, the college's year 12 prefect students walking onto the opera house forecourt for the 25th March celebrations in 2015. For the next three consecutive years, Nick photographed iconic photos of the 25th March in Sydney that went viral worldwide. Mid 2016, Greek City Times employed Nick as a photographer. Over the next year, he earnt the title of Greek City Times' Director of Photography and Videography, which he still carries today. Greek City Times is a global media publication outlet. Nick also worked as the photographer for "My Greek Odyssey" TV travel show in Greece, which airs to over 50 million people worldwide. Nick was the lead photographer for the state funeral of the late Archbishop of Australia Stylianos and captured the funeral service and burial for archival and media purposes worldwide. Nick has been photographing significant events for The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia since 2015. In Sydney and Greece, Nick also captures moving moments in time for The Hellenic Incentive (THI), which in 2020 in Greece will work with the associated partners to document the homeless and various charity organizes THI partner within the incentive program. In 2019 Nick was asked to photograph an Australian fashion designer, Thessi Kouzoukas, from Sabba Shirts, which were amazing with Greece as its backdrop. Nick has been asked to photograph famous people, singers or entertainers because of his unique photography. In early 2020 Nick was a fully accredited photographer for the Australian Open tennis, in which he photographed the games of the Greek players and of heritage for publication in Greek City Times. Also, in 2022 Nick was George Kambosos Jr's official photographer at the lightweight world title fight in Melbourne, Australia. Nick's photos of The Greek Presidential Guard (Evzones) have been referred to as the best seen, and these photos have been published in books documenting the history of the Evzones. The most recent publication was the 150 years book of the Evzones released by the Presidential Guard Greece. Nick's versatility and professionalism have earned him an excellent reputation and a loyal high-profile clientele worldwide. Nick is not one to enter competitions or exhibitions as he leaves it up to his critics to judge his artistic unique way of photography. He has always said in his early 50's he will start to exhibit his work across Australia and aboard, as he has a few major exhibitions in the making. In 2021 Nick launched his photographic exhibition around Australia titled "The Evzones Collection" This photo exhibition endorsed by the Greek Presidential Guard and the Hellenic General Staff of National Defence has over 28 beautifully selected photos capturing and portraying the Evzones in a truly remarkable light. In 2023 The Evzones Collection photo exhibition will be exhibited in Athens and then around Greece. Nick's art uniquely evokes Hellenic pride with his images that are published all over the world.