Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 16 February 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2019 23 LETTERS his glasses upon his nose, regarded me with upper lip raised to the level of a sneer: "We have so many Greeks excelling in classical music that you people know absolutely nothing about. Herbert von Karajan. Maria Callas. You wouldn't have heard Maria Callas' Aria of the Queen of the Night from 'The Magic Flute.' It makes the hairs of my arm stand on end." He extended his flashy arm by way of corroboration. It was pale and shaved smooth. "You know," he continued, "I went to see 'The Magic Flute' here in Melbourne a few years ago. They interpolated a scene where Papageno is actually drinking Australian beer. Afterwards, I ran into Matt Preston, you know, the celebrity chef. He was actually there, wearing his cravat. I told him that this kind of irreverence for the arts would never take place in Greece. It seems to have augmented a special kind of philistinism in Greek Australians, when combined with their own peasant culture." "Probably," I agreed. "For one thing, they don't drink that much Australian beer in Greece, do they? Although, I have always thought that the 'Marriage of Figaro' would benefit greatly of a beer scene." "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro," the man proceeded to sing, in cracked falsetto. Tannu-Tuvan throat singers are trained from birth to compel their epiglottis to produce two notes simultaneously. This man was producing the whole pentatonic scale concurrently from the undulations of his nasal cavity and the effect was breathtaking. "I think the libretto you are quoting is from the 'Barber of Seville'," I ventured. "It's Figaro," he insisted, indignantly. "The Marriage of Figaro' is about Figaro. What on earth are you talking about. This is one of the most famous operas of all time. What would you know?" "Not much," I admitted, "but I'm pretty sure that Rossini based the 'Barber of Seville', whence the libretto comes on the first of Beaumarchais' Figaro plays, while Mozart based 'The Marriage of Figaro' on the second." "What about the Russians?" the man sighed. "Since you people are too Middle Eastern and backward to embrace, let alone appreciate western music, you could conceivably introduce your community to the Russians. worldwide, even reaching the No1 spots in the US and UK Dance Charts. No wonder he is named after Phoebos Apollo, the God of Music. These things aren't coincidental, you know. The only person who can come close, in terms of international influence, is Vangelis, and this, only because he gives Emmanuel Macron relationship advice." "Γύφτοι, καράβλαχοι, χωριάτες," the gentleman spluttered as he extricated himself from his chair and staggered towards the drinks table. By way of coda to our conversation, I began to play Mozart's Turkish March from the 'Ruins of Athens,' in the style of a hasaposerviko, a gesture of goodwill that my erstwhile interlocutor, now whining about the dearth of decent bourbon, failed to acknowledge. Yet, despite giving me the cold shoulder, the man had not only planted but had also germinated an idea in my head. PHOTO: DELIVORIAS Dark, disturbed and Asiatic. A bridge between cultures. A great starting point on your path towards civilisation." "Not a bad idea," I mused. "Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' could plausibly be used as the soundtrack to a videotaped record of a Greek brotherhood's Annual General Meeting." The man was swiping his fingers upon his mobile phone. "What do you think of…," he leaned closer to read the screen.. "RimskyKorsakoff." "While I have an open mind and understand that consenting adults do indulge in such activities from time to time," I riposted, "I find these practices generally distasteful and completely unarousing." "You, like all of your compatriots, are ignorant and cannot appreciate good music," the man interrupted, visibly frustrated, wiping his bald pate furiously, orienting the few remaining strands of hair clinging desultorily upon his head, towards the South Magnetic Pole. "Look at all the famous composers: Xenakis, Kalomoiris, Mantzaros…" "Phoebos," I added. "Who?" "Phoebos," I replied. "The man who has written every single song produced in Greece worth listening to, since the year 2000. No other mortal can claim to have achieved a complete monopoly over the entire cultural content of a civilisation. That masterpiece he wrote for Despina Vandi, Υποφέρω, the one he won an award for, from Sir Richard Branson, still makes me weak at the knees. My only regret is that it is so brilliant that it completely overshadows the tonal complexity of the next song on the eponymous album: Σταμάτα να μου κολλάς. Furthermore, Phoebos, unlike other lesser Greeks with pretensions towards composition, is able to transcend ethnic boundaries and make meaningful contacts with other civilisations. Take his greatest global success, the divine Γεια which he wrote for Despina Vandi. It went multi-platinum in the Greek market, and then broke into the international music scene. It was included in the playlists of celebrated DJs and clubs Approaching a veteran rembeti with reverence and awe, a man who would only ever deign to address me when asking: "Have you actually tuned that violin?" I waited patiently for him to conclude his conversation with a particularly nubile admirer of his art. Then, I timidly suggested: "Why don't we start a Greek community classical orchestra?" His eyebrows arched immediately in complete shock. Looking me up and down coldly, searing my insides with dry ice, he unwound my contention like a presumptuous viola string placed in error, or by unforgiveable design, upon a violin: "Are you serious? We spent our entire years in high school and university as music nerds. Now we are finally doing something that makes people think we are cool and you want to throw it all away? Who do you think you are? Yehudi Tsabasin?" Thus having been sent to Coventry, by my musical Fonz, I packed my violin away, neglecting for the first time in my life, to unscrew the nut of my bow or to dust down my fingerboard and proceeded, with much shame into the exile of the drinks table, where my dialogist was waiting, a can of Jim Beam firmly ensconced within his pudgy grasp, there, in his intoxicated embrace, to misremember song lyrics, from the Aliki Vougiouklaki films of old. Open letter to Brady Kiesling Dear Mr Kiesling, For privacy purposes I will not reveal my name as I fear your residence in Greece and connections with the Greek government will make my life difficult in Greece as I have lived in the country for 20 years. I know the consequences if what 'political connections' can have and do. I was recently reading your comments and your support of the the recent Prespes agreements. As an educated person, Mr Kiesling, you should know the History of Macedonia especially that all Ancient Macedonian Historical artefacts and writings were all written in Greek. The invasion and occupation of Greek lands by the Slavs and your ignorance of the existence of Greek minorities in Vardaska and your unwillingness to recognise these Greek minorities who are oppressed so as to express their Hellenic origins, culture and language there. You should know the area was called by the Slavic name Vardarska for centuries by the same people who reside in Vardarska itself. You have conveniently overlooked all this historical evidence and instead present your personal views to justify the injustice that one single person, ie Mr Tsipras, who defied the will of the Greek people, and imposed his personal view without even offering people the democratic right of a referendum. I am also surprised you are living in Greece and not in the country of Vardarska that you so lovingly support. This is disrespectful and hypocritical. You also fail to mention Greece, unlike Vardarska, is a long time supporter, ally and friend of the USA and the West. I do not respect your views. You are not welcome to live in Greece. You should leave. I would. You are interfering in the internal affairs of another country. If someone does not respect the country they live in then they have no conscience. Name withheld Archdiocese condemns regurgitation The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia has become aware of an 'article' that was published in Greek and English in a January edition of The Greek Herald, by which spurious and malicious allegations concerning His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos are repeated some 20 years after they were adjudicated upon in his Eminence's favour. These allegations were found by the Court of Appeal in Athens (decision no. 6152/1998) to be false, therefore, defamatory of the Archbishop, with the defendants ordered to publish a complete retraction, to pay a substantial monetary penalty and to pay the costs of the proceedings. As the 'article' in question is no more than a regurgitation of the same allegations, their republication some 20 years later is undoubtedly contemptuous of the Greek Court which found in the Archbishop's favour. The Archdiocese condemns the 'reporting' by The Greek Herald. No further comment will be made regarding this matter. From the Offices of the Archdiocese His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos.
9 February 2019
23 February 2019