AKTINA’s Concert Revived Greek Music in Manhattan

Elena Maroulleti, Melina Aslanidou & Vangelis Douvalis

Lovers of Greek music were treated to an unforgettable musical performance filled with the most representative songs of Greece with Greek Singing Sensation Melina Aslanidou
New York, May 26, 2010. On Friday, May 14th, New York’s landmark theatre The Town Hall was host for the 5th consecutive year to AKTINA’s annual concert series GREEK MUSIC JOURNEY which revived some of the most representative and everlasting songs of all time–The songs of the legendary late singers Grigoris Bithikotsis and Vicky Moscholiou.
The concert was presented by AKTINA Productions, Inc., a Queens-based non-profit and 501 (c) 3 cultural organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the rich heritage and culture of Greece and Cyprus in America through radio, television and live performances.

In a beautiful setting and against a backdrop of images of Bithikotsis and Moscholiou, Greek singing sensation Melina Aslanidou gave a captivating performance accompanied by her talented musicians and singer Vangelis Douvalis. Highlighted with the participation of the renowned bouzouki maestro/soloist Manolis Karantinis the concert reached a greater level of importance. Concert goers were mesmerized with Karantinis’ performance on the bouzouki and even more with his singing. Apart from being a virtuoso bouzouki player Karantinis is also a very talented singer. Karantinis performed several classics by Bithikotsis such as “To Trellokoritso” (The Crazy Girl) and “Stou Belami to Ouzeri” (At Belamis Night Club).
The concert started with an instrumental medley of well known songs by both Moscholiou and Bithikotsis followed by the first set of songs which paid tribute to Vicky Mosholiou. Melina Aslanidou revived with her great voice great nostalgic hits such as “Chathike to Feggari” (The Moon Is Lost), “Min Ta filas ta Matia mou” (Don’t Kiss My Eyes), “Xireromata” (Dawn), “Ta Dilina” (The Afternoons), while during the second set she further won the audience with her great interpretation of the classic song of Bithikotsis “Mia Kiriaki” (One Sunday), a beautiful song that talks about the tragic loss of a loved one. It should be noted that few years back, Melina’s beloved brother was killed on a Sunday, and it was evident from her passionate performance that she truly relieved that tragic day.

In welcoming the audience Aslanidou thanked AKTINA Productions, Inc., and especially Elena Maroulleti for inviting her for a second year to perform at the historic theatre of The Town Hall, and as this was a benefit concert for the preservation of AKTINA TV and AKTINA FM she urged everyone to pledge their support for their continuation. Referring to the Greek Music Concert series, Aslanidou also urged the crowd to “continue supporting the organization in any way possible so that it may also continue producing these exceptional concerts that contribute in preserving quality Greek music”.

Vangelis Douvalis who was also invited for a second time by AKTINA also welcomed the crowd and thanked the organization and Ms. Maroulleti for “this honor” as he said. He shared the stage with Aslanidou and also performed solo several everlasting hits of Bithikotsis such as, “Ta Matoklada sou Lampoun” (Your Eyelids Are Shining), “Frangosiriani”, “To Tragoudi Tis Xenitias” among others, while he further enthused the audience when he played the baglama (a smaller version of the bouzouki) during his performance of the great hit “Roloi Komboloi” (A Watch and Worry Beats).

From beginning to end people were fully engaged singing and clapping along and kept rewarding the performers with non-stop applause and cheers. Apart from the memorable performance of Melina Aslanidou, Vangelis Douvalis and Manolis Karantinis, the crowd was equally enthused with the members of the band, as they also had their exceptional moments, especially during their solos. Alexandros Apostolakis displayed his outstanding talent on the drums, Manolis Androulidakis on the guitar and as a backup vocalist, Spyros Pagiatis on the keyboards, Membre Kasardjian on the base and the young and upcoming bouzouki player Andreas Karantinis on this unique instrument as a second bouzouki player. The young Karantinis proved that he shares the unique talent of his father Manolis Karantinis. The exceptional sound was mastered again this year by the renowned sound engineer from Greece Yiannis Paxevanis who was also the stage manager. Tom Stouras handled the production and projection of the images of Bithikotsis and Moscholiou, including the projection on the big screen of the performers throughout the performance.

As it is the tradition of AKTINA, the concert started on time at 9pm sharp and although it was scheduled to run for only 2 hours and 15 minutes, it run into overtime for 2 1⁄2 hours and if producers did not have to meet the restrictive time limits of the theatre, it would have probably lasted all night. The successful performance which was hailed by all in attendance as “one of a kind” and “outstanding”, run without an intermission with a selection of the most popular songs of Bithikotsis and Moscholiou which were beautifully blended together one after the other.
“Zhto To Elliniko Tragoudi” (Hail To Greek Song), Elena Maroulleti, Concert Executive Producer proudly proclaimed after the performance as she thanked Melina, the rest of the performers and the audience for “honoring AKTINA again this year with their attendance and overwhelming response”. Then followed an encore performance with Melina Aslanidou who truly brought the house down as soon as she sung the first note of her own hit “Ti Soukana Ke Pinis” (What Have I Done To You And You Are Drinking) and thereafter the hit “To Lathos” (The Mistake).

GREEK MUSIC JOURNEY (GMJ) concert series was introduced in 1994 by the President of AKTINA Productions, Inc., Elena Maroulleti, who is also the Executive Concert Producer and the one responsible for organizing this big musical performance every year. The series was established with a purpose to preserve and promote the rich musical inheritance of Greece and since its introduction several aspects of the representative Greek music repertoire have been presented with outstanding success at renowned venues such as Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. Since 2006 GMJ has The Town Hall theatre as its “home base” and it features renowned singers exclusively from Greece, while every year a new music theme is selected. GMJ also constitutes the main annual live event of AKTINA Productions, Inc., that is given to benefit the organization’s non-profit and commercial-free radio and television programs, AKTINA FM and AKTINA TV which broadcast on New York’s public service station WNYE-91.FM and WNYE-Channel 25.

Commenting on the success of the performance, Elena Maroulleti, President of AKTINA and Concert Executive Producer, stressed, “we are extremely proud that our concert attracted again this year such a large crowd of people comprised not only by Greek Americans, but also by people from many other nationalities, including again this year AKTINA concert fans who came all the way from Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago. We are able to evaluate our audience since our organization sells the majority of the tickets, some 95% each year”. Next year’s concert has already been booked at The Town Hall for Friday, May 13, 2010. “Our next performance will be a tribute to Great Greek Composers II – From Manos Hadjidakis to Christos Nikolopoulos. We are not ready to announce as of yet our Guest Star, however, we promise to our concert fans that both the concert and the performers will be as always memorable”, Ms. Maroulleti further said.

For more information about AKTINA Productions, Inc., and updates about its activities, please visit its website at www.aktina.org, call 718-545-1151 or email to [email protected] To watch exclusive videos of AKTINA’s May 14th concert visit youtube and search under AKTINA or Greek Music Journey 2010.