Parish News

Festival of Church Organ Music

The Festival of Organ and Voice Music at St Francis Church, Rhodes, was marked with great success, Rhodians proving once again their musical education and cultivation by their massive attendance. The participation and cooperation of established artists with young and upcoming Rhodian artists is particularly significant, demonstrating the good judgment and sophisticated choices of the Rhodian people.
With an interesting programme of Classical Music from 1621 until today and with traditional sounds, the Rhodian choirs have become widely known to the music-loving public. Typically, the Musical and Artistic Director of the Festival (for the 4th year), the internationally renowned soloist and professor of Organ Music, Christos Paraskevopoulos, in a brief address and with simplicity and directness spoke as follows: “With the blessing of the Vicar General of the Catholic Archbishopric of Rhodes, Fr Luke ofm, this festival takes place annually in the church of St Francis of Assisi in Rhodes. It was in December 2009 that there was an invitation from the British Consul in Rhodes, Ms Rania Kossiori for a concert of church organ music in the Church of St Francis. Naturally I could not decline such a tempting proposition since the organ in this church has a unique sound and is the largest church organ in Greece. From that time I decided, with the blessing of Fr Luke, to establish an annual musical institution in order to highlight the church musically, and where Rhodian artists could find a place where they would be able to present the unique nature of the Sacred Music repertoire.
“Warm thanks are appropriate, too, to Fr Emmanuel Sklivakis, the Secretary of the Holy Metropolis of Rhodes, who, by his presence, always encourages us to continue the festival. Sincere thanks too to my distinguished colleague Angela Spanou, director of the vocal ensemble “Ten in Tune” who has contributed in various ways to the celebration of the Festival.”
The list of thanks is a long one that was given by our prestigious soloist, Christos Paraskevopoulos, who, in his international career, has won numerous academic degrees and titles, including the LRSM university degree in organ from the University of London, studying under Nicholas Kynaston, organist of the Athens Concert Hall. He is among the few famous church organ soloists and has been organising organ concerts in Athens and other EU capitals since 1991. He has been working as organist in the German Church of Christ, Athens, since 1997, giving organ concerts and including artists from the National Opera, Hellenic Radio, the Athens Chamber Opera, the wind section of the Athens State Orchestra, the Symphonic Orchestra and Choir of the Municipality of Athens, H2Opera and other well known bodies and instrumentalists. He has appeared in many halls and churches in Greece, in halls, opera houses, book galleries, halls of philological associations and concert halls of many of the capitals of the EU, and has taken part in two Church Organ Festivals in the Athens Concert Hall. He is the organist of the German Church of Athens, responsible for its artistic events.
In 2008 he founded the Choir “Musica Sacra” which he still directs, and in which are performed works of sacred music with emphasis on the Renaissance and Baroque periods and which is the only choir in Greece performing in this field. He also founded and directs the large mixed voice choir of the Church of Ag. Paraskevi in Nea Smyrni, Athens. Finally he teaches church organ playing in the Conservatories of Philipos Nakas and Nicholas Mantzaros and musical theory in the School of Byzantine Music in Nea Smyrni.
The appearance of the tenor Leonidas Sakellarides at the St Francis Festival excites and moves everyone with his simplicity and courtesy and the special warmth of his voice. He studied violin and advanced musical theory at the Conservatory of Greece and the Music School of the Dodecanese, completing his studies at the University of Hull in the UK (BMus, MMus, PhD), that is to say he deservedly bears the title of Doctor of Music, specialising in Composition and, at the same time acquiring a diploma in classical singing. He works as a primary school music teacher, and as a composer and performer (tenor). He also teaches violin, singing, musical theory and composition at various Rhodes music schools.
The St Francis Festival of Music brings us all closer to our fellows and to the higher spiritual and emotional level of which, especially today, we have the greatest need.
Mary Papandreou