Ionian Academy

  • 24 Nov 2022 19:30


The Corfu International Festival honours the memory and the work of the
Corfiot composer Nikolaos Halikiopoulos Mantzaros, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his death, through several events taking place from October to December 2022 in various venues in Corfu.

Following the Workshop on his life and work, the meeting of the three Philharmonic Orchestras of the city in a musical journey through the alleys and the concert of the Manzaros Philharmonic Society, the events continue with a special concert of the City of Athens Choir at the Ionian Academy on Thursday 24 November.

The City of Athens Choir will present religious and secular works by the Corfiot composer Nikolaos Halikiopoulos - Mantzaros as well as works by his students, Spyridonos Xyndas, Dionysios Rodotheatos and Georgios Labiris. The Choir is conducted by conductor Stavros Beris and accompanied on the piano by Katerina Karabatsa.

The programme of the tribute is completed by another concert at the Municipal Theatre of Corfu by the Corfu Philharmonic Society on 3 December.

Nikolaos Halikiopoulos Mantzaros is known to the general public as the composer of the National Anthem. However, apart from this, he was a pioneer in many other areas of music composition, while his work in the field of music teaching was also great, as many of the later Ionian composers were his students. All of the above could make him a generator not only of Ionian music but of modern Greek music as a whole.

The Corfu International Festival honours Nikolaos Halikiopoulos Mantzaros.

Nikolaos Halikiopoulos - Mantzaros, was born in Corfu on 26 October 1795. Son of a wealthy noble family, he studied music from a young age and later went to Italy to perfect his skills. At the age of 18, he married the only daughter of Duke Antonios Justinian, Marianna, with whom he had three daughters and two sons. He quickly gained a reputation as a great artist and a connoisseur of classical and especially Italian music. For this reason, he was invited to become the director of the Milan School of Music and the Naples Conservatory. Manzaros, however, wanted to work for his country and above all for the musical education of the Greek youth and he rejected both proposals. He returned to Corfu and began to give music lessons. A whole generation of composers (Carrer, Labellet, Xundas, etc.) studied under him. When the Philharmonic Society was founded there in 1840, Mantzaros was made its president for life. Manzaros was a friend of Dionysios Solomos and greatly appreciated the work of our national poet. He set the entire 'Hymn to Freedom' to music - in four different writings - of which the first two stanzas were established as the National Anthem of Greece in 1865 and of Cyprus in 1966. He also wrote music for other Solomos poems ('Farmakomeni', 'Hymn to Byron', 'Augoula', 'Xanthoula'). His compositions, of which a small part has survived, also include symphonies, stage plays, church music, piano works, marches and hymns. Nikolaos Mantzaros died on 30 March 1872 in Corfu, at the age of 76.

Spyridon Xydas (Corfu, 8 June 1817 - Athens, 25 November 1896) composer and guitarist. He was one of the creators of the Ionian School of classical music and made a significant contribution to modern Greek classical music and music education. He was a pupil and later collaborator of Nikolaos Halkiopoulos Mantzaros (1795 - 1872, and also studied in Naples. On his return to Corfu, he and Mantzaros founded the 'Philharmonic Society of Corfu' in which he taught theory and church music. His pupil was Spyros Samaras. In 1886 he settled in Athens, where he died blind and in a miserable financial situation. Xyndas wrote many works for guitar, but also songs, cantatas, operas in Italian and Greek librettos, etc. and was particularly involved in vocal music. His opera The Candidate for Parliament (1867 at the San Giacomo Theatre in Corfu) is the first melodrama written by a Greek composer in a Greek libretto, the text of which was written by Ioannis Rinopoulos: Anna Winter (1855), The Three Musketeers, Count Giuliano (1857), The Two Suitors (1877) and the unfinished Galatea (1895). Many of Xynda's works are believed to have been lost in the bombing of Corfu during World War II.

Dionysios Rhodotheatos: born in Ithaca in 1849 and died in Italy in 1892. He was the first Greek symphonist and disciple of Mantzaros. He continued his studies at the San Pietro a Maiella Conservatory in Naples (1864-1871) and later in Milan. He was the first to write a manual of harmony in Greek entitled 'Treatise on Harmony in Theory and Practice' published in Corfu in 1886. He composed many works, such as a funeral march (A Vittorio Emmanuele), Songs, Choral, Church music, Opera, Orchestral and Piano works.

Alexander Greck (Corfu, 1876 - 1959) was a native of Malta. He studied at the Conservatory of Naples and later at the Conservatory of Athens. In 1911 he left for Alexandria. There he gave music lessons and founded choirs. In 1945 he returned and settled permanently in Corfu, establishing a School of Piano and Theory, developing an intense activity and teaching many students. Then he founded the choirs of the 'Old Philharmonic' and the 'Manzaros' Philharmonic (1950), and the 'Manzaros' Symphony Orchestra (1952). He staged operas and operettas at the Corfu Theatre and in Egypt. He composed many songs, piano and band works. Among his students, brilliant musicians are mentioned.

Georgios Labiris: Born in Argostoli in 1833. He began to distinguish himself early for his genuine artistic nature. He studied music with Nikolaos Mantzaros and later in Naples at the San Pietro Majella Conservatory. He was also a virtuoso on the double bass. He returned to Kefalonia where he taught music to many of his compatriots. He then settled in Athens. He was appointed teacher of music at the Arsakeio and other schools. He married Angeliki Laskaratou, daughter of the Cephalonian poet Andreas Laskaratou. He wrote many songs and piano works as well as theoretical books. She was awarded the Silver Cross of the Saviour. He died in Athens on 13 July 1889.

The City of Athens Choir

Aspiring to bridge the space between the purely lyrical or symphonic repertoire, the Athenian polyphonic tradition and contemporary word creation, the Choir of the Municipality of Athens Music Ensembles was founded in 1999 as the third historically Greek professional choir and one of the four independent Music Ensembles of the Municipality of Athens. Consisting of professional singers with classical studies and rich experience from other musical fields, it is not long before it plays an important role in the cultural life of the capital, gaining a stable audience and presenting all genres of vocal music, Greek and international, contemporary and classical. It is sought after by composers and musicians, precisely because of its multifaceted profile, and regularly collaborates with all the major musical ensembles of the country and with institutions such as the Athens and Thessaloniki Concert Hall, the Athens Festival, the Benaki Museum and the Athens State House of Letters & Arts, under the baton of many renowned musicians. Special moments in the choir's career were the international collaborations with Jean Michel Jarre and Ennio Morricone at the Herodesion, its performances at the Moscow Easter Festival 'Valery Gergiev' at the Istanbul International Festival with Xenakis' 'Oresteia' under the direction of Gürer Aykal, as well as the collaboration with Ricardo Mutti at the Herodesion and at the International Festival of Ravenna. Alongside its artistic contribution, the choir performs remarkable social work, presenting specially selected vocal music programmes in schools, friendship clubs, old people's homes and remote neighbourhoods of the city, while it often participates in events of public benefit and charitable organisations). The choir has been directed by Stavros Beris since its inception.

Stavros Beris

Born in Athens. He studied classical guitar with Charalambos Ekmektsoglou, classical singing with Kiki Morphoniou, Fragiskos Vouchinos, Stamatis Beris and higher theory with Michalis Traylos. On a scholarship from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London), he specialised in pre-classical music with Thomas Hemsley, David Roblou, Emma Kirkby and Phil Pickett. She has performed in London with many early music ensembles and has collaborated with David Roblou in the Baroque operas The Tempest by Locke, Venus and Adonis by Blow, P Ballo dell'Ingrate, L'Incoronazione di Poppea by Monteverdi.

Since September 1993 he has been the Artistic Director of the Choir of the Commercial Bank of Greece, with which he has performed in Greece and abroad in more than 500 concerts as well as in many radio and television broadcasts.

Since November 1997, he has been conducting the Mixed Choir of the Municipality of Papagos-Holargos, having also been the Artistic Director of the Choral Festival of the Municipality of Papagos.

Finally, since 1999 he has been conducting the Mixed Choir of the Music Ensembles of the Municipality of Athens and has taught works by Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Mozart, Wagner, Gluck, Schutz, Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Handel, Bach, Faure, Verdi, Theodorakis, Hatzidakis, Markopoulos, etc.

Katerina Karabatsa

Born in Larissa. She began her musical studies at the Municipal Conservatory of Larissa, where she graduated with a degree in piano in 1992 (class of L. Rizou) and a degree in harmony. While studying at the Physics Department of the University of Athens, she continued her piano studies at the Athens Conservatory, graduating in 1997 with a piano diploma (class of Aris Garoufalis). She has performed in recitals and chamber music concerts in Greece (Athens, Thessaloniki, Symi, Kos, etc.) and abroad (Cyprus, Albania, England, Japan).