25.2.2021 – 31.12.2021
Let us board this imaginary flight to artistic creation,
and let the wings of our mind defy gravity:
when man yearns to fly,
music is there to say he can.
Megaron the Athens Concert Hall continues its long-standing cooperation with Athens International Airport, by organising the exhibition “A musical take off!”. The exhibition, organised on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Athens Concert Hall, is hosted in the “Art & Environment” exhibition area of the airport’s Departures level and is scheduled to run until 31 December 2021.
This exciting journey to the history of one of Greece’s most prominent cultural organisations, invites us to revisit –by means of photographs–the finest moments in the 30-year long cultural activity of Athens Concert Hall, organised in the following sections: 1927–The Beginning; The conductors; Great performers; Costumes and props; The magic of the performance; Backstage; The audience; Gazing at the sky. The photographic material is complemented by two showcases displaying costumes and a number of props which are exhibited for the first time outside of the Concert Hall’s premises and come from its archives, which comprise 10,000 theatrical costumes, accessories and creations signed by distinguished Greek and foreign set and costume designers.
“A musical take-off!”
The Exhibition’s sections
The first section presents a condensed overview of the history of Megaron the Athens Concert Hall, starting in 1927, when young Lied singer Alexandra Trianti envisioned the creation of a modern concert hall in Athens and shared this vision with Christos Lambrakis.
The timeline focuses on milestone years: 1953, the year of establishment of The Friends of Music Society; 1955, when maestro Dimitri Mitropoulos conducted the New York Philharmonic for the first time in Athens, offering the concert’s proceeds to support the Society; 1971, when the construction design for the Concert Hall’s building was completed; 1976m when the then Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis laid the cornerstone of the building; and 1991, the year Megaron the Athens Concert Hall began its pilot operation.
At the entrance to the Exhibition, the visitor is welcomed by the photograph of a ballerina, dressed with the ethereal-like costume designed by Yannis Kokkos for Odyssey, the ballet by John Neumeier and Giorgos Kouroupos. An ethereal figure that seems to be floating in the sky, she invites is to relive in our mind the most magical moments of the Concert Hall’s 30-year long history: snapshots from performances and concerts that made history, and appearances of legendary artists of our times and of major figures that shaped the Concert Hall’s history; costumes and props from emblematic productions; photographs of visits and lectures by distinguished personalities, of the musical and stage preparation activities and of the Concert Hall’s backstage and open-air areas, together with photographs of the “Lilian Voudouri” Music Library.
In the Exhibition area, Takis Diamantopoulos’ photograph of Melina Merkouri, in her last appearance on the stage as Clytemnestra in the opera Pylades by Giorgos Kouroupos takes pride of place, while the visual exhibits around the visitor come from memorable musical productions of the Athens Concert Hall: concerts with leading conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Iván Fischer, Carlo Maria Giulini, Seiji Ozawa, Antonio Pappano, Sir Simon Rattle, Teodor Currentzis, as well as major Greek composers such as Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hadjidakis; appearances of great classical music, lyrical song and ballet soloists: Martha Argerich and Mischa Maisky, Agnès Baltsa, Renée Fleming, Sylvie Guillem, Jonas Kaufmann, Leonidas Kavakos, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Maurizio Pollini, Sviatoslav Richter, Dimitris Sgouros.
The magic of the performance
The “flight” over the history of the Athens Concert Hall continues with a stop in the magical world of opera, through photographs from the most impressive lyrical theatre productions to be staged at the Concert Hall in the last 30 years, presenting works by brilliant composers from the preclassical era to the 21st century. The journey also includes stops to admire enchanting snapshots from performances given by famous contemporary dance groups and choreographers that won over Greek audiences.
Orchestras in residence
The exhibition is complemented by photographs from successful lectures given in the context of the Megaron Plus programme of events, from concerts given by the ensembles in residence of Megaron the Athens Concert Hall –the Athens State Orchestra and the Greek Youth Symphony Orchestra–, as well as snapshots from performances of the Musicians of Camerata – The Friends of Music Orchestra, known as Armonia Atenea, in its international “flights”.
In addition to the photographic material and the exhibits, the visitor can also watch a short 3-minute video, with excerpts from productions of Megaron the Athens Concert Hall that made history. The video was directed by Thomas Kiaos and produced by Avion Films. The music used as soundtrack is the Overture from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La forza del destino, interpreted by the Athens State Orchestra (by kind permission of the ASC).
The exhibition is curated by Yorgos Vafias. The texts were authored by Maira Milolidaki,while the special photography for costumes and props was by Yannis Bournias. The exhibition design was produced by POST–SPECTACULAR OFFICE. Responsible for supervision and coordination on the part of Athens International Airport was Chara Helene Mitsotakis, Head of Public Relations & Culture.
Gazing at the sky
“In the thirty years of its existence, Megaron the Athens Concert Hall has welcomed over 15 million spectators and visitors, and has evolved into an internationally recognised beacon of culture. Its creation has transformed the urban landscape and has shaped a new perception of our interactions with artistic and intellectual creation.
Megaron is committed to promoting classical values while fostering avant-garde thinking. Music is its passion: symphony orchestras, operas, song recitals, classical and contemporary works, traditional and world music, Greek composers, rising young soloists and internationally established performers, are the soul of its programmes. At the same time, Megaron is broadening its relation with the entire range of fine and performing arts, which are increasingly represented: ballet, contemporary dance, theatre, film screenings and exhibitions, are all part of a dynamic programme whose aim is to both entertain and educate. Research forums, lectures and educational artistic activities for children and young people are offering learning opportunities and social development, embracing pluralism and diversity. Almost one hundred years ago, the vision of the few inspired the creation of this unique cultural hub for all. Today, its strength lies in its people. Megaron rises to the complex challenges of our time by engaging humanity as its compass and the world as its horizon.”
From the text authored by M Milolidaki for the Exhibition
This Exhibition would not have been possible without the valuable assistance of the project team of Megaron the Athens Concert Hall, whose contribution was crucial for its creation.
The photographs have been drawn from the Archives of Megaron the Athens Concert Hall, the Archives of The Friends of Music Society, and the Album of The Friends of Music Society published to celebrate its 60 years of activity (2013). Archive photographs were also kindly made available for the Exhibition by: Haris Akriviadis, Anagnostopoulos Il. & Sons, Dimis Argyropoulos, Takis Diamantopoulos, Angelos Pappas, and Stefanos.