Boston Berklee College Hosts Greek Children in Philanthropic Initiative

Members of “Kalesma” singing with the scholars from Greece on the stage of Boston’s Berklee Jazz Institute

After three years of continuous efforts by members of the “Kalesma” philanthropic initiative, children from Athens’ “Ark of the World” group are participating this year in the Berklee College of Music’s “Vocal Summit” summer program.

The scholars arrived in Boston last Friday, accompanied by their Kalesma teacher in Athens, Angeliki Toumpanaki, and the lyricist for the project, Panagiota Fliris.

The organization known as “Kalesma” was founded by lute player Vasilis Kostas, who is also a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, in order to give opportunities to young Greek students with musical talent.

The initiative offers a permanent music education program for the children of the “Ark” project in Athens, as well as providing scholarships for further music studies in the United States.

Members of “Kalesma” with the Greek scholars from the “Ark of the World” group

The creation of Kalesma itself was inspired not only by Father Anthony Papanikolaou’s charitable work for the “Ark of the World,” but also by the beliefs of its members that a child’s life can be transformed through the power of music.

The Ark of the World is a charitable, nonprofit organization for young children, most of whom come from single-parent families or are orphans, or who are experiencing difficult circumstances, including neglect, abandonment, lack of medical care and an uncertain future.

The first major Kalesma concert was held in July of 2018 at the Michalis Kakogiannis Foundation in Athens. Performing were seven renowned musicians from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute and twenty children from the “Ark” chorus.

The launch of the scholarship program was announced at the end of that concert. The program will make further music studies in the United States possible for the children of the Ark of the World.

A concert was also held last Friday under the auspices of the Consulate General of Greece in Boston at the Berklee College of Music to welcome this year’s young scholars from the Ark.

The first performers shared the stage with musicians from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute and Berklee Marco Pignataro’s postgraduate program along with the Eliot School children’s choir under the direction of Stephan Marquis.

Statos Efthymiou, the Consul General of Greece in Boston, addressed the audience, commending the members of the initiative and saying “You are giving wings to the children and are teaching them to fly.” He especially lauded the altruistic initiative and the tireless efforts of the head of the event, lute player Vasilis Kostas.

Kostas described not only his dreams, but his systematic efforts of the past three years to make the program possible, thanking the musicians and the friends of the Kalesma initiative. The musician stressed the importance of supporting the program because “it offers a new perspective to the children of the Ark of the World.”

The founder of Kalesma also announced additional scholarships for 2020, and the continuation of the music program for children of the Ark of the World in Athens, which will begin again in September of 2019.