Music in Athens, Greece, comes in all sizes and modes – from ancient instruments through traditional music, jazz and classical concerts and back to simple melody and rhythm.
This is a city comfortable with accomplishment of all kinds and in many genres, with events listed and unlisted. In the Summer, when formal venues are closed, the streets become a natural location for the more adventurous performer.
This informal piece looks at some Summer musical offerings in Athens. It includes (below) a list of links to and phone numbers for events which I discovered, though not necessarily attended or checked out. If you know more about these or other events which readers might find of interest, please tell us via the Comments box at the end of this article. Thank you!
The range of ‘street music’ in the capital city of Greece, Athens, is an eye-opener to those of us from colder climes. Athens is a city where the traditions of ancient and non-Western people meet those of us accustomed to the folk music and formal classical music modes of Northern and Central Europe. Here is a place where the cembalon of Eastern Europe is heard alongside African percussion, the guitars and bouzoukis of the Mediterranean (and later Ireland) and the brass instruments of every part of the world.
So there’s plenty of music, much of it very relaxed and informal, for visitors in Athens – and if you know of other events not mentioned below, please do tell us about them via the Comments box at the end of this page.
Whatever your preference, there will be something to enjoy – and to engage your interest and imagination. One of the great things about ‘street music’ is that it’s for everyone, young and old alike. Just as we have found when occasionally we can perform in public spaces in Liverpool, it’s the children who stop and listen and watch, often keen that they should not be moved on by parents or carers until they have heard their fill.
For some musicians however this is serious stuff. They have instruments and recordings of their work to sell, music to make to earn a crust. For others perhaps it’s a bit of fun, a way of passing time during the Summer months. It’s not difficult as a listener to tell who has which intention; but only rarely is there simply no evidence of skill when the performance, however fleeting perhaps as players stroll between cafe venues, begins.
But not all music is performed on the street. Athens has the attributes of all great capital cities – concert halls, an opera house (even if it does perhaps require relocation and an upgrade) and museums such as that for Maria Callas dedicated with whatever degree of enthusiasm to Greek classical music performers and composers of Greece – some of whom are listed (along with the main cultural venues around Athens) below, drawing for composers’ names on the cataloguing work done during the Athens Cultural Olympiad of 2004.
Nonetheless, there are forms of music which occur throughout the year in any city. Jazz bands and stringed instrument performers can play wherever they can find a space, and in almost any combination of instruments and performers; just as traditional dancers can congregate and entertain wherever numbers can be mustered – though certainly this is not how things happen at the treasure which is the Dora Stratou Theatre, a national institution to encourage traditional dance forms, offering performances throughout the Summer.
The choice is the listener’s. Formal or informal entertainment? Go for something new, or stick with the tried and tested? In Athens it’s best to have one’s listening mode in gear, ready for the next experience. It could even be during an unsheduled coffee stop. And who knows, you could even end up buying an instrument all of your own…
See more of Hilary’s photographs: Camera & Calendar
and read more about Music, Musicians & Orchestras, Travel & Tourism and Cities in Transition.
If you have recommendations for, or if you promote, musical events and venues in and around the Athens area, please post details (with contact information, indicating whether the occasion is regular, or one-off) in the Comments box below.
Some Greek music composers:
Yannis Andreou Papaioannou (1901-1989), Dimitris Dragatakis (1914-2001), Nikolaos Halikiopoulos-Mantzaros (1795-1872), Manolis Kalomiris (1883-1962), Alekos Kontis (1899-1965), Georgios Lambelet (1875-1945), Loris Margaritis (1895-1953), Dimitri Milropoulos (1896-1962), Andreas Nezeritis (1897-1980), Georgios Poniridis (1887-1982), Mikis Theodorakis (1925-), Marios Varvoglis (1885-1967), Alekos Xenos (1912-1995)
More information on events:
Athens Concert Hall (Megaro Mousikis), Vas. Sofias & Petrou Kikkali Street, tel: (from UK) (0030) 210 728 2333
Athinais Cultural Centre, Kastorias 34-36, Votanikos, tel: (00 30) 210 348 0000
August Moon Festival (free, on the night of the full moon, at a variety of ancient historic sites in Athens))
Dora Stratou Dance Theatre, 8 Stouliou Street, Plaka (offices) and Philopappou Hill (theatre), tel: (00 30) 210 324 4395 / (0030) 210 324 6188
Hellenic Festival, various venues, tel: (0030) 210 327 2000
“Melina” – Municipality of Athens Cultural Centre, Herakliedon 66, Thissio, tel: (00 30) 210 345 2150
Municipality of Athens Cultural Centre, Akadimias 50, tel: (00 30) 210 362 1601
National Opera, Akadimias 59, tel: (00 30) 210 364 3725
Technopolis (and the Maria Callas Museum), Pireos 100, Gazi, tel: (00 30) 210 346 1589
Vyronas Music Festival, tel: (00 30) 210 766 2066 or (0030) 210 765 5748
Aegina International (Summer) Music Festival [Tickets available at the “Eleni” shop next to the Aegina Port Authority building, tel: (0030) 22970 25593, & on the door.]
And more Festivals and events…
Posted on August 9, 2008, in Arts, Culture And Heritage, People And Places, Photographs And Images, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience, Travel and tagged Travel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.