Boston University Arts & Sciences

CAS News: September 15 2010

Sell-Out Crowd Enjoys Greek Music Ensemble

On September 22 in the Tsai Auditorium, the Boston University Department of Classical Studies–in cooperation with the BU Humanities Foundation, the Core Curriculum, the BU Hellenic Association, the Undergraduate Classics Association, and the Greek Institute of Boston–hosted "Echoi: Echoes of the Hellenic Musical Heritage." The Greek Music Ensemble of Boston performed for a sell-out crowd of over 500 students, faculty, and members of the local Greek community.

For almost a thousand years before the birth of Christ, Aegean bards performed songs about the Greeks' sack of Troy and their troubled return home. The Greek language is the only European tongue with an unbroken and well-documented written history that stretches over three millennia, and for that entire period the Greek language and Greek music have been inextricably entwined.

The Greek Music Ensemble, under its Musical Director Dr. Panos Liaropoulos, performed over two hours of music, including songs that incorporated the poetry of such renowned Modern Greek poets as Nobel Laureates George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis. The program also featured the work of leading traditional and Modern Greek composers, including Manos Hadjidakis, Mikis Theodorakis, Stavros Xarhakos, and Yannis Markopoulos. Styles of music included Greek urban music composed mainly in the first half of the 20th century–also known as "rembetiko" and traditional Greek folk music.

The concert underscored the relationship between contemporary Greek music and culture and their classical forebears. As the home of the International Society of the Classical Tradition, Boston University and its Department of Classical Studies over the last three decades have sought to conduct research and teach courses (such as The Classical Tradition in the Modern World) that emphasize the classical literary, cultural, political, and philosophical inheritance upon which so much of the Western tradition rests. The Department of Classical Studies also offers courses in Modern Greek language and literature, thus emphasizing that Modern and Ancient Greek are not two separate languages, but rather two stages of a single language and tradition.

Reaction to the concert was outstanding. At least one hundred students in classical studies and Modern Greek courses at Boston University attended the event, and many reported that the concert had been "amazing." One student stopped his professor after the concert and thanked him for making it possible. During the concert itself, there was literally dancing in the aisles, as the audience responded not only with claps and shouts but also with spontaneous Greek dancing throughout the Tsai Auditorium.

According to Lecturer in Modern Greek Kelly Polychroniou, Boston University and the Department of Classical Studies will plan further such events in the future. The BU Hellenic Association and the Undergraduate Classics Association will play leadership roles in these efforts, which will not only continue to emphasize the connections between Ancient and Modern Greek culture, but which will also bring together students of Modern and Ancient Greek from various Boston-area schools. Students from at least eight schools attended the September 22 event.

Return to the October 15, 2010 Newsletter

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