Sydney Town Hall Resonates with Hymns as Hellenic Choir Celebrates Archdiocese Centenary

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

Hellenic Choir Celebrates 100 Years of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia at Sydney Town Hall

The Sydney Town Hall echoed with hymns and music last night, Friday, March 22nd, as the Hellenic Choir commemorated a momentous occasion: the 100th anniversary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. The concert, titled "In Honour and Memory – 100 years of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia," drew crowds to celebrate the Archdiocese's rich history and enduring presence in Australia.

Established in March 1924 by Patriarch Gregory VII of Constantinople and the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Archdiocese has served the spiritual needs of the Greek Orthodox faithful in Australia for a century. The concert served as a tribute to the Archdiocese's contributions, struggles, and steadfast presence throughout its remarkable journey.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
His Eminence Archbishop Makarios with Musical Director Leon Vitogiannis

On the evening of March 22, 2024, at Sydney Town Hall, Australia, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia commenced its celebration, witnessed by over one thousand attendees, with a spectacular musical performance by the Australian Hellenic Choir. Dignitaries in attendance included His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia; the newly appointed Australian Ambassador Stavros Venizelos; Consul General of Greece in Sydney Yannis Mallikourtis, as well as bishops and clergy of the church.

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
Over one thousand attendees were at Sydney Town Hall, Australia

The Australian Hellenic Choir: A Celebration of Community and Music

The concert featured the talented Australian Hellenic Choir, established in 2018 as a multicultural community choir. This dedicated group of singers brings a diverse repertoire to life, fostering a vibrant presence within the Greek community of Sydney. Tonight's program promised beautiful harmonies showcasing the works of famous Greek composers.

Leon: A Conductor Leading the Way Leading the choir was the acclaimed conductor, Leon. After completing degrees at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Leon has carved a path as one of Australia's most exciting baritones and conductors. His training under esteemed figures like George Ellis and John Lynch has steered his passion towards the Greek choral scene. As the current musical director of the Australian Hellenic Choir, Leon strives to diversify the Greek-Australian musical landscape. His programs honour popular composers while venturing back to the origins of Modern Greece. Notably, Leon is actively engaged in research on Classical Greek Music, currently completing a dissertation on the vocal art songs of Nikolaos Mantzaros from the 1830s.

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
Musical Director Leon Vitogiannis

A Three-Part Musical Journey

This special evening unfolded in three distinct brackets. The first part showcased two sacred cappella choral pieces performed by the choir and an octet of classically trained singers. Following these pieces, a string orchestra graced the stage to deliver Nikos Skalkottas' beloved "5 Greek Dances for Strings." The final section presented a captivating selection of popular Greek works spanning a century of the nation's rich musical heritage.

Honoring a Greek-Australian Legacy: The Concert Begins

The concert commenced with a piece by the renowned Greek-Australian composer Themos Mexis. The Australian Hellenic Choir was delighted to pay homage to Mr. Mexis, the choir's former Musical Director, by performing his evocative 1977 choral setting of "Kyrie Eleison."

This was followed by a moving performance of Mikis Theodorakis' "To Tropario Tis Kassianis" for mixed chorus and octet. Theodorakis originally composed this piece for a male chorus at the age of 17, reflecting his lifelong connection to the Orthodox Church.

2024 03 100th Anniversary GOAA 33
Renowned Greek-Australian composer Themos Mexis

From Classical to Popular: A Celebration of Greek Music

The remaining program featured the Australian Hellenic Choir, joined by a magnificent 30-piece orchestra. The audience was enthralled by Nikos Skalkottas' renowned "5 Greek Dances," some of the most celebrated classical compositions to emerge from Modern Greece.

Following this, the program delved into the works of beloved popular composers like Stavros Kouyioumtzis, Manos Hatzidakis, Mikis Theodorakis, Apostolos Kaldaras and featured songs from Asia Minor. This intricate selection served as a musical tapestry, weaving together a century of memories, struggles, and the enduring Greek presence in Australia.

Ambassador Stavros Venizelos
Newly appointed Ambassador to Australia, Stavros Venizelos

Photo Gallary of the evening.

Photos copyright Bouro Photography / Greek City Times

Nick Bourdaniotis

Director of Photography

Greek City Times Director of photography

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024