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Mikis Theodorakis - Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC)

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Event:
Magical

"This was a man who understood the potency of music and words, who harnessed that capacity to change a nation not just at a moment in time but over decades.. He was imprisoned, tortured and exiled, yet continued to compose even from a prison cell." So wrote John Kotzas, QPAC's chief executive.

And there was a palpable buzz of excitement in the audience. Beside me, an elegant young woman in a white trouser suit chatted in Greek to her designer-dressed boyfriend and in front of me, a husband, wife and two children, also chatting in Greek. Behind me, an elderly man, with a granddaughter- you've guessed it, also talking in Greek.



Which meant that when the soloist for the evening, Dimitris Basis, gave us a lengthy introduction to the life and work of Theorodakis (at least I'm assuming it was), he spoke entirely in Greek. Nor did that matter judging from the response a good percentage of the audience understood him, and when he sang we realised why his name has been associated with the music of Theodorakis for decades. Look him up on YouTube and you find him all over the world singing his songs.


The list of songs was (no surprises here) in Greek. Again, no matter. We loved them, and both Maria Viakoulis and Dimitris gave them their all.



Some conductors are minimalists, their bodies immobile except for their arms and hands. Such could not be said of George Ellis perhaps known to you as the conductor from the Athens and the Sydney Olympic Games openings. The music flowed through him from tip to toe, as he gyrated and danced and sang his way through 28 songs plus encores. Google tells us he is close to the age of 60. He gave no sign of that in the performance.



We loved the first half, but things took on a new life after the interval. Domitris sang 16 songs and encouraged us to sing along. The trouser suited lady and her partner sang, as did the father and kids, as did the elderly man and his grandchild. There was joy, and there were tears as Dimitris sang with passion and beauty, two bouzouki players spun strands of bright gold energising the rhythm and the melody, and I felt that though I was loving the music and the infectious engagement of the audience, there was a history and a depth that I was missing.



And when it came to the encores after the first standing ovation the audience sang along to the first song: then came the familiar chords of Zorba, which gradually speeded up as the audience clapped, until a levitating conductor with flailing arms brought his orchestra to an almost impossible speed.



We were all standing, all clapping, all energised, all engaged. Great soloists, wonderful orchestra, superlative music, inspired conducting, thrilled audience.

What a wonderful evening.

On the way out I learned that the elegant trouser suited lady teaches Greek in West End. "Come to the classes" she offered "it's never too late to learn".

I must say, I was tempted.
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Why? Engaging, entertaining,memorable
When: 27th May
Phone: $69-$99
Where: QPAC Concert Hall
Cost: $69-$99
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