The first concert of the Festival was held with great success on Tuesday at 8.00 p.m. in the Church of St Francis. Music lovers of Rhodes, Rhodians, foreign permanent residents and vistors attend these concerts every year with enthusiasm. It should be remembered that the organ of St Francis Churchis the biggest in the Balkans except for the organ in the Athems Concert Hall) and the acoustics of the church are amazing.
The internationally renowned soloist and Professor of Church Organ Music, Christos Paraskevopoulos welcomed the audience, thanking them for their presence, directing special thanks to representative of the Holy Metropolis of Rhodes, the Very Rev. Fr Emmanuel Sklivakis who attended with his two daughters, and mentioning the importance of the Festival of Church Music with takes place each year in St Francis Church and is kindly hosted, with much love, by the Vicar General of the Catholic Archbishopric of Rhodes, Superior of the Franciscan Order in the Dodecanese and Parish Priest of St Francis, Our Lady of Victory and Lamb of God in Kos, Fr Luke Gregory ofm.
Tasteful and informative programmes in Greek and English were given to everyone with an introduction by Fr Luke about the history of the church, which was built in the 1930s and is today the Cathedral Church of the Catholic Archbishopric of Rhodes. It goes on to say, “The 4th Festival of Music in St Francis Church, Rhodes, is the culmination of many years of dedicated and enthusiastic effort by many Rhodians and their friends who wish to promote their love and respect for music.” He also mentions that music is “creation and performance and the significance and even the definition of music may vary according to culture and social context.” Our own wise ancestors claimed that music is the highest philosophy. It also states, “Thanks to the initiative of Ms Ourania Kossiori, the British Consul, Christos Paraskevopoulos, a renowned and talented Greek organist and professor of Church organ music with great interest in promoting church organ has, by his presence, helped greatly in the establishment of the institution through which have been highlighted many talented Rhodian musicians not previously know to the general public.
Important too is the information given by Fr Luke: “Next year will mark the beginning of our music festival on another international platform - the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land which has its headquarters in Jerusalem intends to include Rhodes in its programme. Thus our Festival will be supported by musicians from all over the world alongside our own local Greek musicians. Preparations are already underway organised by Brother Riccardo ofm, the co-ordinator in Jerusalem, and Christos Paraskevopoulos.” He mentions the support of the local music schools and refers to “our organists, Mr George Hatzantonis, Mr Vesa Madeline and Mr Ville Karhula,” the local press for the information it gives and the “co-operation of Greek Orthodox, Lutherans and Catholics and the hierarchies of their respective churches” which is “unifying, constructive and healthy, always respecting the rules of our respective churches, which, with prudence and wisdom, guide us on the road to salvation. Music truly unites us all in happy and fraternal love.”
The performance of the works of the following composers was sensational: Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), Alessandro Stradella (139-1682), Georg Muffat (1653-1704), Georg Friedrich Haendel (1685-1759), Theodore Dubois (1837-1924), Cezar Franck (1822-1890), Louis Vierne (180-1937), Vladimir Vavilov (1925-1973).
The tenor Leonidas Sakellarides and Christos Paraskevopoulos riveted the audience with their performance. They received a standing ovation and the audience would not let these wonderful soloists go, clapping until they gave an encore. A gentle presence next to his great teacher and mentor, Christos Paraskevopoulos, stood the talented young organist George Potamianos.
On Thursday 2nd October at 8.30, in St Francis Church will be given the second Music Concert, with the prominent soloist and professor of Church Organ Music Christos Paraskevopoulos, who founded and direct the large choir of the Orthodox Church of Ag. Pareskevas in Nea Smyrni, Athens, always accompanied by the church organ and where the attendance of the faithful is so great that on Sundays a second Liturgy is celebrated.
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