Athough this year’s Festival of the Aegean is now over, the impression left on those who attended the performances will last a lifetime. We at MidAmerica Productions and MidAm International would like to thank the Kathimerini newspaper of Athens, Greece for sharing this lovely article on the 2017 Festival of the Aegean, and Christian Sanoudou for writing it. Read the article, translated by MidAm International conductor and collaborator Zoe Zeniodi, below:
Every summer for the past 13 years, the International Festival of the Aegean transforms Syros into a destination for the classical music lovers and opera lovers from all around the world. Few people know that this internationally acclaimed institution owes its existence to the “love” of a conductor for a theater: when, in 1999, the Greek American conductor and producer Peter Tiboris, who has produced hundreds of concerts at the grand New York Carnegie Hall, visited the recently refurbished Apollo theater in Hermoupolis for the first time, he was immediately overcome by a wish to organize a festival. Six years later his dream would become true, and Syros, with which had no connection till then, was going to become a second home for him and his wife, the Canadian-Finnish soprano Eilana Lappalainen, who, she herself having developed a special relationship with Greece, founded the Greek Opera Studio in 2010.
A home, literally, since they live there for approximately 15 weeks per year, but also a place for creation, since one of the main reasons that Mr. Tiboris enjoys so much his time on the island is his occupation with music.
“Even if the main part of my job takes place in New York, the Festival of the Aegean is very important not only for Syros or the international music society but also for me personally,” he said to Kathimerini a few hours after his arrival to Athens in order to prepare for this year’s Festival.
Even if he was born in the USA where his grandparents had resided for many decades, the musical path of Peter Tiboris was, in a way, connected with his Greek roots. At the age of 9, already familiar with the piano, the young musician started to take organ lessons at the Greek Orthodox Church of Sheboygan, in Wisconsin, and one year later he was appointed organist of the parish. Years later, in 1984, he was asked to organize a concert in New York for the Archbishop of America Iakovos and this event was the reason for the founding of the well known MidAmerica Productions. Since then, he has been in charge of the organization for more than 1,300 concerts in important venues worldwide, and has conducted concerts, operas, and ballets. At the same time, he keeps his relationship with the Greek cultural reality alive through the Festival of the Aegean and other events. For example, in July 2020
,he will conduct the world premiere of the opera “Eleni”, based on the homonymous novel of the writer and friend of his Nicholas Gage, in Athens and seven months later it will be presented in Carnegie Hall. “It is an oratorio for big chorus, five soloists and narrator. The narrator will be Nicholas Gage himself,” he notes.
Let’s note here that he covers the expenses of the Festival himself with the help of private sponsorships, as it is impossible for the Municipality, over the past years, to help. “The Festival costs approximately 400,000 Euros per year, and the income from the ticket sales do not exceed 30,000,” he admits. He believes though that the crisis period has an ending point. “Greece is a small but important country and EU knows this as does the USA. “The crisis in USA from 2008 till 2013 was horrible but it is finally over. The same thing will happen here, even if it takes longer time.”
The International Festival of the Aegean will take place in Syros from 16 to 30 of July and it includes, among others, the production of Madama Butterfly directed by Johannes Weigand and conducted by Giovanni Pacor, a ballet gala with the stars of the National Ballet of Bucharest, choreographed by the known-to-Greek-audience Renato Zanella, and the collaboration of 100 choristers from the USA and Greece.