Music and other arts, trainers and musicians

Training | December 20, 2023

B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music

When the time came to pick which training our Foundation would provide for the residencies, in the framework of MERITA, the choice was easy: music and other arts. For a Foundation dedicated to the fine arts and music, with the purpose of securing a dialogue between the arts and having organized hundreds of concerts in this spirit, the choice was evident.

When preparing the training videos and other material for the online presentation of the subject, the enthusiasm of theory, gave way to the responsibility of action. I had to find the necessary time, in the midst of the numerous obligations that a General Manager of a Foundation that produces more than three hundred events entails, to prepare something that is not destined for a short live presentation (fleeting words) but will be recorded and be available for scrutiny and study. George Demertzis, experienced violinist and head of the New Hellenic Quartet, and myself are experienced university teachers, but this was something special. We began by writing our parts and sharing with one another to eliminate repetition and try to distill as much as possible of our experience into these short videos.

Then we asked Katia Paschou, an accomplished opera singer and opera studio director, to provide us with some “marketing” ideas about the preparation of the proposal and went to the studio for recording. The recording was not the most difficult part of the project. The directives from Nerina were very clear and Harry, the studio manager and director, was very helpful.

After the online training, the next stage consisted of finalizing the dates and places for the residencies. This is where Evangelia, our project manager, took over. Not an easy task in view of the heavy program of the quartets and the scarce availability of our heavily booked auditorium.

And then, when everything was finally in place, a very interesting part of the procedure unfolded: we received the project proposals from the quartets and organized a one-to-one video conference with every one of them to discuss the proposal and its specific needs. I was very happy to read the proposals for two reasons: first, they were all interesting and well thought and second, they revealed that the online training courses we had prepared contributed to the inspiration of the musicians.

The one-to-one meetings through Zoom teleconference, in reality two-to-four meetings, Evangelia and myself from Athens and the four members of each quartet in several cities of Europe, were really amazing and inspiring. It was our first meeting with the real people and it gave us all joy to communicate and get to know the excellent musicians we had heard through the recordings and videos they had sent us and whose ideas we had read in the project proposal, taking real life, even as much as a teleconference can provide.

When you meet the real people and when these are young artists, vibrant in the eagerness to create, small companies of friends that unite in a single purpose, offering to others the exquisite juice of the European musical tradition, everything falls into place: the bureaucracy dealt with by Evangelia, the many hours dedicated to writing on paper and recording on video by the trainers, are all justified.

Lively discussion between the quartet members and our team included of course the weather of the other cities where the quartets were calling from, in comparison to the Athenian fair weather and of course many details that had to be clarified regarding the specificities of each project. We have all realized that our residency is rather particular, in that it entails more artists than the quartet itself. We had to find dancers, stage designers, light technicians, video artists, even a storyteller. But this reveals the richness of ideas brought in by the quartets, to create original proposals in the spirit which permeated our online training, that is the idea of a “multisensory event”.

We are all eager to meet in Athens, to get to know each other, to work together and make the best of these brief encounters that we wish to become six creative moments. The residency will not only provide the necessary work to prepare beautiful and effective concert projects, but also the exchange of each and everyone’s experience and knowledge, as well as the idiosyncratic way with which each one incarnates our European identity. Although it has become a common thing to say it, nevertheless it remains a factual reality that the diversity through which Europeans absorb and express our common cultural treasure contributes decisively to its richness. Our understanding of our common heritage becomes more clearly defined, more vividly present, more intensely lived, when viewed and realized through the different viewpoints of Europeans from different countries and local traditions.

It is in this spirit that I reflect upon the reason and purpose of our common project and feel thankful to Francesca and her team who conceived it, brought us together and provided us with the framework of a harmonious cooperation and exchange of views, experiences and knowhow. We are lucky to work with such brilliant and willing colleagues from all over Europe and look forward to tasting the fruits of this collaboration.

Professor Fotis Papathanasiou, General Manager.