Echoes of Freedom at the Greek Festival of Sydney

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One of Greece’s leading classical guitarists, Manolis Androulidakis, has starred in an impressive virtuoso concert at the Greek Community Club in Lakemba as part of the culturally-enriching Greek Festival of Sydney.

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Manolis Androulidakis on stage at the Greek Community Club

The musical recital, “Echoes of Freedom: A Tribute to the Songs of the Struggle” featured the works of legendary Greek composers and musicians including Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hatzidakis, Stavros Xarhakos, Yannis Markopoulos, Christos Leontis, Dionysis Savvopoulos, Manos Loizos and others that, according to the concert organisers, form the "soundtrack of battles for freedom, democracy, and social justice.”

They are also the songs channeled through the artistry of great singers such as Nikos Xylouris, Maria Farantouri and Maria Dimitriadi, which on this evening found an incredible new expression through the sublime guitar work and singing of Manolis Androulidakis

The classical melodies were performed by the talented Cretan-born guitarist and composer using a MOOV travel guitar in a two hour performance that simply enthralled the appreciative audience.

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Manolis Androulidakis studied guitar, musicology and composition at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and trained with teachers Notis Mavroudis, Kostas Kotsiolis and Christos Samaras.  He has proven to be a very versatile classical guitarist and composer.  But, as the Sydney audience experienced, he also sings with a passion that revives the memorable lyrics of the great composers.As a composer, guitarist and arranger Androulidakis has collaborated with many composers, including Mikis Theodorakis, and he famously conducted his 90th anniversary concert in the presence of the great composer at the Petra Theatre in Athens.

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With the immortal Mikis Theodorakis (image credit: Manolis Androulidakis)

He has also had the great honour in 2016 of working on Mikis Theodorakis’ official record collection, “Myrtia”, with works by the composer arranged for solo guitar.

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Other career highlights include performing his guitar arrangement of “Chariots of Fire” at the ceremony held by the University of Thessaly when awarding the great composer Vangelis (Vangelis Papathanasiou) an Honorary Doctorate Degree.

This incredible guitarist has also collaborated with great singers, including Maria Dimitriadis, Manolis Mitsias, Eleni Vitali, Miltos Paschalidis, Yiannis Kotsiras, Vasilis Lekkas, Rita Antonopoulou and Dimitris Basis.

For his first Sydney recital, Manolis Androulidakis played two exceptional instrumental pieces from the Ballad of Mauthausen: “When the War Ends” and “Song for Andonis”.   Androulidakis’ interpretation through his expert guitar craftmanship of this famous ballad, with lyrics by Iakovos Kambanellis and a stirring musical score by Mikis Theodorakis, was impressive.

 

Other highlights on the night included renditions of two famous songs from the great Greek-Cypriot composer, Manos Loizos, The Accordion and The Road (O Dromos).

The latter composition is a timeless song that came to define the resistance movement against the Greek junta with its rhythmic and meaningful vocals which still stirs the senses today.

But in singing The Accordion, the performer's resounding rendition of the final words “Δε θα περάσει ο φασισμόs” (fascism will not pass) strongly resonated with the audience.

In this exquisite solo performance, Manolis Androulidakis presents an “other” guitar that creates an illusion that there are more musical instruments at play.  As the music critic Eleni Gerasimidou has written:

How can a guitar in the hands of a musician, a virtuoso, become multiple instruments at once with feeling, precision, dedication, and above all, a passion for music? Without any pretense or genre boundaries, it captivated us. We didn’t want this magnificence of true art to end.

The audience at the Greek Community Club would wholeheartedly agree.

This was indeed a concert for the ages.

 

George Vardas is the Arts and Culture Editor

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