Gary L. Mabry
Yellow Rose Singers
San Antonio, TX
Re: Performance at the Eighth Annual Festival of the Aegean on July 13, 2012
It was a distinct pleasure to be a part of the 8th International Festival of the Aegean, July 4-18, 2012. Upon arrival in Athens, MidAmerica representatives met us at the airport, and local guides like Cleo provided a helpful orientation as we made our way via tour bus to the Plaka. For a few hours we were able to get our first glimpse of Greece before the high speed ferry ride to Syros. This was my first trip to Greece, and I was immediately enamored with the pure, blue waters of the Aegean and the limestone wash of the city as we approached the port. Our lodging at Faros Village, on the island of Syros, afforded us a daily view of Aegean. Nico and Sophia were the constantly helpful proprietors, who made our stay a pleasant one.
The schedule of the Festival provided a good balance of rehearsal, performance and opportunities for sightseeing and discovery. I never met a Greek meal I didn’t like! The optional day trips to Delos and Corinth were priceless offerings for our visitors, as was the Athens tour of the Acropolis. The inherent hospitality of the people of Greece made us feel incredibly welcomed. My wife and I will definitely be returning for future visits.
I was honored to assist in the preparation of the choruses for the Beethoven Ninth Symphony and the Rutter Magnificat, rehearsing in the lower ballroom of Faros Village. The choruses from the United States, Canada, Greece, and France were a pleasure to rehearse. They came prepared and enthusiastic. Our first performance of the Beethoven in the historic Apollo Theater was no less than exciting. With sopranos and altos positioned in the boxes, basses and tenors onstage with the orchestra and a packed house of patrons, Maestro Peter Tiboris conducted (from memory) this masterpiece with great aplomb. After a riveting performance in the title role of Strauss’ opera Salome, early in the Festival, soprano Eilana Lappalainen graciously took time out of a busy schedule to provide a coaching session with two of our young professional singers. This was truly a highlight of our involvement with the festival.
Our group, the Yellow Rose Singers, based in San Antonio Texas, was one of four groups to perform on an evening concert at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, one of the most majestic and resonant churches I have ever visited in the US or Europe. It was a personal blessing and joy to make music in this house of worship. The final concert at the Plateia, with orchestra and combined choruses was magnificent. Once again, the four Beethoven soloists performed with artistry and nuance. The MidAmerica staff is to be commended for working out a multitude of site details to make an event like this possible. Maria Kousouni-Fika, Principal Dancer of the Greek National Ballet, brought Ravel’s Bolero to life. English composer John Rutter was present to lead his Magnificat with the Festival Chorus with his own inimitable energy and flare.
Without a doubt, this was one of the highlights of my musical career thus far. Peter Tiboris has created a unique opportunity for musicians of every nationality to share the universal language of music and to experience one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on the planet.