Legendary Greek conductor George Ellis conducted a special ‘Hymn to Liberty’ performance in Town Hall last night to commemorate 200 years since start of the Greek War of Independence.
Dionysius Solomos wrote his famous Hymn to Liberty in 1823, when the Greek War of Independence was at a critical stage.
In its 158 stanzas the poem relates events in the war up to that point. It was set to music by Nikolaos Mantzaros, and in 1865 the first verses were adopted as the Greek national anthem.
The musical composition featured an array of Greek orchestral talent led by George Ellis, including soloists George Karantonis, Maria Yiakoulis and Leon Vitogiannis. The concert was the first time this performance had been conducted in Australia, with the most emotional moment of the night being when the whole crowd stood up to sing the anthem with the vocalists.
The composition was followed by a quintet performance of Να ‘τανε τo ’21 by Stavros Kougioumtzis and a vocal solo by Maria Yiakoulis.
With NSW restrictions being eased on Monday, Greeks were forced to keep to their seats as Nikos Skalkottas entertained the audience with five Greek dances for string orchestra.
A host of dignitaries also spoke at the event in Sydney’s CBD centre, including Trade Commissioner of Greece in Australia Mrs Katia Gkikiza, Themis Kallos, Michael Tsilimos, Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore, Prof Vrasidas Karalis and Angela Vithoulkas.
Prof Karalis spoke about the true representation of the Hymn to Liberty, saying it represents more than the national identity and represents their constant fight against oppression.
The organisers thanked City of Sydney Council members Clover Moore and Angela Vithoulkas for helping the event go ahead.