Athens State Orchestra / Byron Fidetzis / 2007

Tour Dates: 2007

The Athens State Orchestra (KOA), the principal symphony orchestra in the history of Greek music, is over 100 years old. During these years and until it was transformed into a state organization, changing its name accordingly (1942), it went through periods of great uncertainty. However, the constant efforts of enlightened music-lovers and the unselfishness of its musicians helped the orchestra to survive.

It first appeared in 1893 as the Athens Conservatory Student Orchestra and in 1911, it changed its name to Athens Symphony Orchestra. In the mid-twenties, it appeared as the Concert Society Orchestra, and in 1927, it was once more set up as the Athens Conservatory Symphony Orchestra. In 1942 –thanks to the initiative and the great efforts of the orchestra's director and director of the Athens Conservatory, the unforgettable Filoktitis Economidis– it was placed under state patronage (Ministry of Education) and assumed its present status and name, giving its first concert as the “Athens State Orchestra” on 28 February 1943 at the Olympia theatre. Today it is placed under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture. After Filoktitis Economidis, who served as its general director from 1942 up to his death in 1957, directors of the KOA were successively: Theodoros Vavayannis (1957-69), Andreas Paridis (1969-75), Manos Hatjidakis (1976-82), Yannis Ioannidis (1983-89), Alexandros Symeonidis (1989-95), Aris Garoufalis (1995-2004) , Since September 2004, Byron Fidetzis is assign as Deputy Director.

In spite of many difficulties and years of uncertainty, the KOA has reached a high level of artistic achievement and has offered music-lovers in Greece the opportunity to know and enjoy the masterpieces of the international repertoire; at the same time it has been the leading institution – sometime even the only one- to promote works of Greek composers.

Celebrated Greek musicians –first and foremost Dimitris Mitropoulos (1896-1960) who was the orchestra’s guiding spirit for years– have offered their talent to the orchestra and have actively contributed to the establishment of its present symphonic tradition, which has become a point of reference for younger generations of musicians. Furthermore, music-lovers have had the opportunity to enjoy renowned musicians who played with the orchestra.

The podium of the KOA has been occupied by leading composers including Richard Strauss, Camille Saint- Saëns, Alfredo Casella and Gabriel Pierné and by eminent conductors such as Walter, Knappertsbusch, Stokovsky, Ormandy, Munch, Horenstein, Krauss, Paré, Jochum, Markevich, Martinon, Sargent, von Karajan, Maazel, Comissiona, Nelsson, Maxim Shostakovitch, Ionescu-Galati, among others.

Many great soloists have also appeared as guest artists with the KOA, including the violinists Kreisler, Thibaud, Francescatti, Rizzi, Stern, L. Kogan, the cellists Casals, Piatigorsky, Mainardi, Fournier, Rostropovich, Gutman, and the pianists Cortot, Rubinstein, Kempff, Bachauer, Janis, Ashkenazy, Badura-Skoda, Demus, Haebler, Virsaladze, Pletnev, Petrov, Ugorski, Freire, Gelber, among others.

Apart from its numerous concerts in Athens and other big cities of Greece, the KOA has also participated with great success in various festivals abroad: Cyprus, Romania, Turkey, France (UNESCO), Malta, Austria (Altaussee, Vienna), Germany (Europa Musicale 1993, 1995, 2000, EXPO 2000). Specifically, during the summer of 2000 the Athens State Orchestra made a very successful tour in Austria and Germany (Altaussee, Hannover-EXPO 2000, Munich-Europa Musicale 2000), where its performances and high standards were acknowledged as equivalent to the greatest European orchestras. Moreover, on June 4th, 2003 the Orchestra performed in the Vienna Musikverein Hall with the famous Greek mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa as soloist in a concert that took place within the frame of the Greek Presidency of the European Union. Very recently, in the beginning of September 2003, the Orchestra also gave two successful concerts in Cyprus (Limassol, Nicosia).

Today the KOA, enriched by a century’s experience and achievements, is looking forward to reaching even higher levels of excellence. It remains one of Greece’s main artistic representatives and continues to forge ties of friendship with other nations by establishing and maintaining common values. 

The Athens State Orchestra (KOA), the principal symphony orchestra in the history of Greek music, is over 100 years old. During these years and until it was transformed into a state organization, changing its name accordingly (1942), it went through periods of great uncertainty. However, the constant efforts of enlightened music-lovers and the unselfishness of its musicians helped the orchestra to survive.

It first appeared in 1893 as the Athens Conservatory Student Orchestra and in 1911, it changed its name to Athens Symphony Orchestra. In the mid-twenties, it appeared as the Concert Society Orchestra, and in 1927, it was once more set up as the Athens Conservatory Symphony Orchestra. In 1942 –thanks to the initiative and the great efforts of the orchestra's director and director of the Athens Conservatory, the unforgettable Filoktitis Economidis– it was placed under state patronage (Ministry of Education) and assumed its present status and name, giving its first concert as the “Athens State Orchestra” on 28 February 1943 at the Olympia theatre. Today it is placed under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture. After Filoktitis Economidis, who served as its general director from 1942 up to his death in 1957, directors of the KOA were successively: Theodoros Vavayannis (1957-69), Andreas Paridis (1969-75), Manos Hatjidakis (1976-82), Yannis Ioannidis (1983-89), Alexandros Symeonidis (1989-95), Aris Garoufalis (1995-2004) , Since September 2004, Byron Fidetzis is assign as Deputy Director.

In spite of many difficulties and years of uncertainty, the KOA has reached a high level of artistic achievement and has offered music-lovers in Greece the opportunity to know and enjoy the masterpieces of the international repertoire; at the same time it has been the leading institution – sometime even the only one- to promote works of Greek composers.

Celebrated Greek musicians –first and foremost Dimitris Mitropoulos (1896-1960) who was the orchestra’s guiding spirit for years– have offered their talent to the orchestra and have actively contributed to the establishment of its present symphonic tradition, which has become a point of reference for younger generations of musicians. Furthermore, music-lovers have had the opportunity to enjoy renowned musicians who played with the orchestra.

The podium of the KOA has been occupied by leading composers including Richard Strauss, Camille Saint- Saëns, Alfredo Casella and Gabriel Pierné and by eminent conductors such as Walter, Knappertsbusch, Stokovsky, Ormandy, Munch, Horenstein, Krauss, Paré, Jochum, Markevich, Martinon, Sargent, von Karajan, Maazel, Comissiona, Nelsson, Maxim Shostakovitch, Ionescu-Galati, among others.

Many great soloists have also appeared as guest artists with the KOA, including the violinists Kreisler, Thibaud, Francescatti, Rizzi, Stern, L. Kogan, the cellists Casals, Piatigorsky, Mainardi, Fournier, Rostropovich, Gutman, and the pianists Cortot, Rubinstein, Kempff, Bachauer, Janis, Ashkenazy, Badura-Skoda, Demus, Haebler, Virsaladze, Pletnev, Petrov, Ugorski, Freire, Gelber, among others.

Apart from its numerous concerts in Athens and other big cities of Greece, the KOA has also participated with great success in various festivals abroad: Cyprus, Romania, Turkey, France (UNESCO), Malta, Austria (Altaussee, Vienna), Germany (Europa Musicale 1993, 1995, 2000, EXPO 2000). Specifically, during the summer of 2000 the Athens State Orchestra made a very successful tour in Austria and Germany (Altaussee, Hannover-EXPO 2000, Munich-Europa Musicale 2000), where its performances and high standards were acknowledged as equivalent to the greatest European orchestras. Moreover, on June 4th, 2003 the Orchestra performed in the Vienna Musikverein Hall with the famous Greek mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa as soloist in a concert that took place within the frame of the Greek Presidency of the European Union. Very recently, in the beginning of September 2003, the Orchestra also gave two successful concerts in Cyprus (Limassol, Nicosia).

Today the KOA, enriched by a century’s experience and achievements, is looking forward to reaching even higher levels of excellence. It remains one of Greece’s main artistic representatives and continues to forge ties of friendship with other nations by establishing and maintaining common values.
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