From Greece to Newtown: Dimitris Basis unites with students to sing ‘Music from the Heart’

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As the sound of the bouzouki filtered down busy King Street in Newtown, Sydney on Tuesday, June 4, you instantly knew the music of Greece had made its way Down Under.

The joyful and familiar sound was made possible thanks to a music collaboration taking place inside St George’s Hall between internationally acclaimed Greek singer Dimitris Basis and students from the Newtown High School of the Performing Arts (NHSPA).

Dimitris Basis. All photos The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.

The concert, titled ‘Music from the Heart,’ started at 7pm and broke cultural and language barriers through music. It was proudly supported by the Greek Festival of Sydney and the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW (GOCNSW), and sponsored by the Bank of Sydney.

Basis selected music for the concert from artists he grew up with, including Mikis Theodorakis, Stavros Xarchakos and Dimitris Mitropanos. The songs embodied lyrics and music that evoked a range of human emotions such as passion, love, pain, loss, struggle, joy and hope.

No one left the concert disappointed. From a solo multilingual performance by a NHSPA student alongside Basis, to a choir of students singing beautiful back-up melodies, and an orchestra featuring violins, trumpets and more – the concert really did have it all. There was even an encore of Zorba the Greek, which had everyone singing and dancing along.

The choir of students.

The concert ended with gift giving and formalities. Students thanked Basis for giving them a chance to perform with him at a concert they “will never forget,” and also expressed their gratitude to those who made the collaboration possible including the Chair of the Greek Festival of Sydney, Nia Karteris, the President of the GOCNSW, Harry Danalis, NHSPA Careers Adviser and Production Coordinator, Ula George, NHSPA Music Teacher and Musical Director of Concert, Emlyn Lewis-Jones, and NHSPA Principal Dr Susan Green, among many other volunteers and supporters. They also thanked the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis for attending.

In a speech, Basis thanked the students for working together with him, and said he was “incredibly proud that Greek music was being heard and played at an Australian school.” He also said he was grateful to Emlyn for seeing the value in performing Greek music at the NHSPA.

Harry Danalis (right) giving a gift to Dimitris Basis.
Emlyn Lewis-Jones.
Harry Danalis (left) and the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis.

Emlyn first saw Basis perform in 2008 on the Greek island of Samos and was so impressed that he followed his musical journey. In 2018, Emlyn met with Basis while he was on tour in Australia and Ms Karteris arranged a meeting at the school to discuss a possible concert involving NHSPA students and Basis as part of the Greek Festival of Sydney’s program in 2019.

NHSPA students have since performed two concerts with Basis – ‘Byzantium to Zorba’ in 2019, and ‘200 Years: A Celebration of Greek Music’ in 2021 to mark the bicentenary of the start of the Greek War of Independence. Tuesday night’s ‘Music from the Heart’ concert was their third collaboration.

Mr Danalis touched on this history in his speech on the night and surprised the crowd by announcing that the NHSPA students have been invited to Greece in September 2026 to perform alongside Basis in the homeland. A true sign that this music collaboration isn’t ending any time soon and after Tuesday night’s performance, we can’t wait for more!

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