Κυριακή, 11 Ιουνίου 2017

Triumphal presentation of Porphyra, A Grecian Rock Opera Anna and Vladimir: The love that ROCKED the world

Photos by Marilyn Hirsch-Wyler
Porphyra, A Grecian Rock Opera, Anna and Vladimir:The love that ROCKED the world, thrilled audiences with a historical and cultural journey into Greece's past at Flushing Town Hall "Where the Silk Road ends, a romance begins.” The Rock Opera was hosted by the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and audiences got to experience for the first time in one of Queens’ most revered landmark theaters three shows; one on Friday June 2nd and two on Saturday June 3rd

First came Anthony and Cleopatra then, there was the drama-drenched Byzantine duo Anna and Vladimir. "Porphyra" is the rock opera that captures all the history, grandeur and power struggles behind their love story. Set in the year 988AD, the production chronicles the world-rocking marriage of Princess Anna Porphyrogenita of Greece to Grand Prince Vladimir the Great of the medieval Kievan Rus. Their tale of love, war and peace is brought to life through hard rock, melodic metal, and Greek folk music, all churned out by a rock orchestra. Based on the epic albums "Faith, Struggle, Victory" and "The Starmaker's Prophecy" (due to come out this summer), the performance weaves together theater, dance and visuals.

The Director, Production/Stage Manager, Costume stylist, Prop Master and Narrator was Despina Chrissochos (married to Billy Chrissochos), who masterfully helmed the production while seven months pregnant with the couple’s second baby. 
The protagonists were four of NYC’s most versatile and powerful Hard Rock/Heavy Metal vocalists; the charismatic and powerhouse vocalist Elaine Tuttle who portrayed the role of Princess Anna Porphyrogenita, the delightful Tommy Von Voigt who slayed as Prince Vladimir, the majestic vocal stylings of Ron Iglesias as Emperor Basil II, and the heavenly vocals of Christina Stavrou as Princess Olga. “Rock of Ages” has nothing on this group. And to boot it’s all original music! 
Photo by Shirley Huang
The band was composed of Billy Chrissochos on guitar, Mike “Risko” Savvas on guitar and tzoura (the smaller cousin of the bouzouki instrument), who enthralled the audiences with his unique instrument,  Jose A. Navia on bass, Richard Khuzami on percussion and what is a tour de force on drums, Mr. Tracey “Tre Boogie” Beavers, holding the entire ship together. The production was graced with three beautiful dancers from the Dena Stevens Shazadi Dance Project; Choreographer and Principal Dancer Dena Stevens, Principal Dancer and show’s Associate Producer Peishan Lo, and Principal Dancer Alicia Kubeck. The dancers marveled the audiences with sword balancing acts, beautiful costumes and all the right moves. 
Recognized by UNESCO, “Porphyra, a Grecian Rock Opera,” made its smash debut at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in May 2015 and triumphant Off Broadway debut at the famed West Village Players Theatre in may 2016. Porphyra’s album, “Faith, Struggle, Victory” also won the 2016 Best Rock Album in the Academia Music Awards. Porphyra’s Rock Opera debut at Flushing Town Hall was critically hailed as “PICK OF THE WEEK” from “It’s in Queens” popular online blog, the Queens Tribune and Queens Gazette. 
You can learn more about Porphyra, A Grecian Rock Opera at www.Porphyrarockopera.com
and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PorphyraBand/, check out our merchandise and purchase your copy of "Faith, Struggle, Victory" and "The Starmaker's Prophecy” albums. Here is our new promo video https://www.facebook.com/greekrussianclub/videos/299670137112177/
Porphyra Foundation Inc, is a not for profit 501 (c) 3 and every donation and purchase of merchandise will go towards helping this production on its way to Broadway.
Here is what the press, local and civic leaders had to say about the show!

“The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present this wonderful cross-cultural performance of Anna & Vladimir. We hope this collaboration with Porphyra will strengthen our relationship between the Greek community and the many New Yorkers from around the world who now live and work in Flushing. We invite you to join us in this unique celebration of New York’s most diverse and dynamic community!”
Taehoon Kim, President of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce.

 “My small country, Greece, which is going through troubled times now, has a very strong weapon; its culture, history and the arts. Byzantine History is a most attractive history and the way Porphyra has worked to create this very important show, has breathed new life to the pivotal story of Anna and Vladimir. On behalf of UNESCO club of the department of Piraeus and Islands I congratulate the work of our Director of Modern Music in NY, Mr. Billy Chrissochos, on his mission to educate and build Cross–Cultural bridges between the Asian and Greek communities and the greater American public.”
Mr. Ioannis Maronitis, President of the Club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands and Member of the Board of the World Federation of Associations and Club Centers for UNESCO.

“Porphyra, A Grecian Rock Opera is a wonderful blend of Greek history and modern rock music. A new experience everyone should see.”
Queens Community Board 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris.

“Only in Flushing can you find Greek folk music, belly dancing and a full rock orchestra performing in sync. The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce put together a unique and colorful production of this classic tale, and we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to bear witness right here in Queens.”
Peter Koo NYC Council Member 20th District, Queens. 
The Spin on the relationship of Anna Porphyrogenitos and Prince Vladimir was well presented by the talented music and actors performing on stage.  I enjoyed all aspects of the performance from music to costumes and movement of the theme through the various acts of the opera; an effective way to bring alive historical themes from the past. Perhaps youth could come to appreciate history through such performances.”
Reverend Father Paul Palesty, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.

"This was a thrilling historical journey that has never been explored in such a unique way.”
Igor Kochan, President Russian Youth of the USA.

“A live band playing their original rock music accompanied by spectacular belly dancers. It is really worth it!”
World Journal. Most influential Chinese-language newspaper in North America.

"Porphyra is one of the most important cultural endeavors undertaken by members of the Greek American community. As a history presentation, it brings to life our Byzantine heritage, especially for our children. The musical compositions and performances are helping put Hellenes on New York's artistic map and the participants are an inspiration for our children."
Constantine Sirigos, journalist. 

“Billy Chrissochos has taken some obscure Byzantine history and transformed it into a vibrantly romantic musical experience that expands the parameters of the rock genre in most interesting ways. The performance I saw was flawlessly presented by talented musicians, attractive principals with strong voices, and dancers with all the right moves. Ranging from rock and heavy metal to tender ballads, the score beautifully captures both the political intrigue as well as the romantic nuances of the love story PORPHYRA has to tell. The audacity of the concept works beautifully, giving new life to a very old love story.”
Jimmy DeMetro Director, NYC Greek Film Festival.

“Porphyra's, A Grecian Rock Opera - Anna and Vladimir: The love that Rocked the World” was nothing short of fantastic. Everyone in the production was spectacular from the musicians to the singers. It was a phenomenal Rock concert with a Hellenic Byzantine Opera twist, and a must see. Congratulations to all!”
Lou Katsos, President, EMBCA (East Mediterranean Business Culture Alliance).

"Most of us can remember special moments in our lives, I can say I have experienced one of those when I attended the performance of Porphyra's: A Grecian Rock Opera, Anna & Vladimir: The Love That Rocked The World, on Friday June 2nd at the Flushing Town Hall. I'm happy and proud to have been there that night. It's not everyday, or even common for a Greek-American to be able to enjoy a magnificent and unique piece of entertainment, and also be proud of your heritage at the same time, Bravo Porphyra! You did it for me. I wish you continued success, and I hope to catch your next great experience.”
Peter Giakoumis, historian, author and Press Secretary for Club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands NYC Modern Music Chapter. 
“What is there to say about the new Greek Rock Opera “Anna and Vladimir: The Love That ROCKED the World,” of Billy Chrissochos? It is exciting music that has fine musicians and majestic singers and a grandiose and highly successful cast and crew. I cheer and applaud the production and director Despina Chrissochos and Associate Producer Peishan Lo in all their hard work in achieving this!”
Panayiotis Karousos, world renowned opera and classical music composer.
President of The Hellenic American Center of the Arts.

Πέμπτη, 25 Μαΐου 2017

Repeat triumph of the opera "Prometheus Bound" at the 4th Gymnasium of Alimos in Athens Greece

Tuesday, May 23, 2017. And yet Greek education can triumph when there are remarkable visionaries of the level of our composer Panagiotis Karousos, and people able to welcome and coordinate such an important task.
Admired great performers of the height of bass / Stage-director Vassilis Asimakopoulos (Prometheus) and soprano Irene Konsta (Io) in the heavy roles of the Greek tragedy, and the fine tenor Theodoros Brakos (Ocean / Hermes), accompanied by the magnificent pianist Victoria - Fjoralba Kiazimi.
Perhaps it is the most perfect and best educational program that has been presented in the Greek Secondary Education for many reasons. Firstly, the most difficult and philosophical work of the ancient Greek writing is presented in a comprehensible way, which for the first time in the world's history of the opera was set to music in a classical-form of traditional opera. This was a remarkable event and it must be pointed out.
Secondly, the direct participation of students, in the presentation of the chorus of the Aeschylus tragedy Prometheus Bound, the presentation examples of the Prosody element, and also the direct conversation with the composer on the opera to analyzing the themes.
Third, the appreciable involvement of teachers, school counselors and school directors enriching the Seminar by offering to students an overall initial teaching lesson of critical analysis of the subject.
In the approval program of the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs (IEP), the project "Prometheus Bound" was preceded by the pedagogical seminar "The qualification as the link of the opera with the ancient Greek tragedy". 
The presentation of the seminar was attended by: Eleni Savaki Director of the 4th Gymnasium of Alimos, the composer Panagiotis Karousos, Chrysoula Tsigri School Counselor of French Publications PI05 A Athens, Evanthia Michou School Counselor of French, Dr. Anastasios Koutsoukos, who co-ordinated the seminar of the Ministry of Education and the musician of the 4th Gymnasium of Alimos, Manolis Kartsakis, who helped with the impeccable presentation of the Prosody example.
The exemplary way of presenting the most important opera work of Greece, and the work of the masterpiece ancient Greek Literature "Prometheus Bound", commemorates the modern Greek operatic culture within a contemporary music creation.
The opera "Prometheus Bound" by Panagiotis Karousos and the Direction of Vasilis Asimakopoulos move us to the magical world of the serious opera with the mysterious way of musical inspiration.
The unparalleled protagonist Vasilis Asimakopoulos joins the unwavering revolutionary Titan Prometheus with a sigh and kindness of a romantic hero.
The glamorous diva soprano Irene Konsta impresses with the power of her voice and the remote reality of her interpretation.
Theodoros Birakos interpreted the role of Ocean with the rigor, and the melodic aria of Hermes, which impressed all spectators. The artists accompanied by the outstanding pianist Victoria - Fjoralba Kiazimi.
Texts on the opera and the 2nd Chorus of the Tragedy "Prometheus Bound" in translation by I. Griparis read the students: Grigoris Bobirakis, Eleni Lourandou, Maria Menendiati, Dimitra Tournaviti, and Irene Fatsea.

The Director of the 4th Gymnasium of Alimos Eleni Savvaki gave a warm speech  to the crowd. The school with the teachers applauded the opera, the corridors from everywhere filled with students for the big event of the Greek opera in their school. It was an outstanding performance to all levels! 

Κυριακή, 21 Μαΐου 2017

A High-level seminar on "Prometheus Bound" opera at the 60th Gymnasium of Athens

May 16, 2017. With great success took place at the 60th Gymnasium of Athens, the opera "Prometheus Bound" by Aeschylus set to music by composer Panagiotis Karousos and directed by opera bass Vasilis Asimakopoulos.
In the approved program of the Ministry of Education of Greece, Research and Religious Affairs, with the agreement of the Teachers Association, participated the great opera performers: Prometheus: Vassilis Asimakopoulos, bass - Io: Irene Konsta, soprano - Violence / Athena: Dimitra Kamitsi, Soprano and Victoria Kiazimi, piano. The work of harmonic beauty, based on the Prosody, has been acclaimed and applauded.
At the Seminar: "The Prosody as a Link of the Opera with the Ancient Greek Tragedy" that preceded the opera participated: Magdalini Mavroudi, Director of the 60th Gymnasium of Athens, Dr. Anastasios Koutsoukos, Philologist, George Lilis, musician, Dr. Chrysoula Tsigri, School Counselor of French Language PI05 A Athens, Dr. Leonidas Katsiras, School Counselor of Laws and Political Sciences, PE13A Athens, and the composer of the opera Panagiotis Karousos.
The example of the Prosody was taught by the musician of the school, Giorgos Lilis, and was interpreted, under his direction, by the students: Elena Kasa, Elena Thanas, Sophia Paseidou and Alexandra Sidiropoulou.
The B Chorus of the Tragedy "Prometheus Bound" by Aeschylus in translation I. Gryparis (the Oceanids) was read by the students: Sofia Paseidou, Alexandra Sidiropoulou, Elena Kasa, Elena Thanas.
Texts on opera and ancient tragedy, edited by Dr. Anastasios Koutsoukos was read by George Konovaliotis, Danae Kosta, Elena Thanas, Iris Kountouraki, Alexandra Sidiropoulou, Sophia Pessenidou, and Elena Kasa.
A great asset to the Ministry of Education for the important collaboration with the composer Panagiotis Karousos, and for the high-level original and highly educational program that has not been similar before in the Greek education.


Πέμπτη, 18 Μαΐου 2017

Award-Winning Porphyra Performance to Debut in Queens on June 2nd & 3rd at Flushing Town Hall

Flushing, NY – The Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands which is under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today recognized the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce for their cross-cultural presentation of Porphyra’s Grecian Rock Opera: “Anna & Vladimir: the love that ROCKED the World.”  The awards were presented at the announcement of Porphyra’s Queens Debut performance on Friday, June 2nd, and Saturday, June 3rd, at historic Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Boulevard in Flushing NY 11354.  The presenter was Mr. Billy Chrissochos who is the Director of Modern Music in NY for The Club for UNESCO of Piraeus and Islands. Awards were also given to the local press who have been instrumental in helping promote Porphyra throughout the years.
Tickets are available online at porphyra.eventbrite.com.
To learn more about the show please visit http://porphyraband.com/rock-opera/
 “The Chamber is pleased to present this wonderful cross-cultural performance of Anna & Vladimir.  We hope this collaboration with Porphyra will strengthen our relationship between the Greek community and the many New Yorkers from around the world who now live and work in Flushing,” stated Taehoon Kim, the President of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. “We invite you to join us in this unique celebration of New York’s most diverse and dynamic community!”
The Chamber was joined by Councilman Peter Koo and members of Porphyra for a preview of “Anna & Vladimir,” which features Greek folk music, belly dancing, theatre, and a full rock orchestra performance based on the real-life romance between the 10th Century Byzantine Princess Anna Porphyrogenita and Russian Grand Prince Vladimir. 
Mr. Ioannis Maronitis, President of the Club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands and Member of the Board of the World Federation of Associations and Club Centers for UNESCO, stated “My small country, Greece, which is going through troubled times now, has a very strong weapon; its culture, history and the arts. Byzantine History is a most attractive history and the way Porphyra has worked to create this very important show, has breathed new life to the pivotal story of Anna and Vladimir."

From Billy Chrissochos, Director of Modern Music of the club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands and Creator and Producer of Porphyra, a Grecian Rock Opera, stated: "I set out with Porphyra to create the first ever Greek inspired Rock Opera based on themes from Greek and Russian History. The love story of Anna Porphyrogenita and Vladimir the Great is a universal one and I am thrilled that we can now share it with the greater Asian Community. The Silk Road is a binding thread in all of our shared histories."

Elaine Tuttle, Lead vocalist/Princess Anna Porphyrogenita, stated: “I'm thrilled to reprise the role of Anna, which I performed in our debut of the rock opera at Carnegie Hall in 2015.  This year's production includes more new songs, all of which are on Porphyra's upcoming album, “The Starmaker’s Prophecy.” Aside from Billy, Mike, me, and our fabulous dancers, we have a new cast and musicians as well.  I'm very excited the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce has sponsored our new show!”

Christina Stavrou, Lead vocalist/Princess Olga, stated “I am thrilled to be a part of this production taking on the role of Princess Olga alongside an amazingly talented cast of individuals. Billy has created such a wonderful story and I'm anxious to see it all unfold on stage!"

Lead vocalist/Prince Vladimir Tommy Von Voigt stated: “Getting cast in Porphyra as Prince Vladimir is a rare treat. It isn't often you get to discover a really exciting chapter of European history while rocking out with a tight metal band!" 
Porphyra, a Grecian Rock Opera is a thrilling, historical, cultural journey through music, dance and theater and the first Rock Opera to triumphantly debut at the prestigious Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall on May 3, 2015. It was also the first Greek themed Rock Opera to debut Off Broadway at The Players Theatre for a three day limited run last May13-15th, 2016. And now for the first time Queens, NY is getting ready to be electrified for three shows this coming June 2-3rd at the historic Flushing Town Hall. These shows are proudly sponsored by the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. Where the Silk Road ends, a romance begins. 

The story of Anna and Vladimir is akin to Anthony and Cleopatra’s and the musical merges hard rock and melodic metal with Greek folk music. Porphyra, a Grecian Rock Opera, is based on Billy Chrissochos’ band Porphyra’s epic albums “Faith, Struggle, Victory” and “The Starmaker’s Prophecy”. If you are a fan of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Rock of Ages and the Phantom of the Opera then our musical is for you. It is lovingly dedicated to the Peoples of Greece, who having passed the torch of civilization to the world, now need the support from all of us in these most troubling of times. It is time to remember those heroes and heroines that helped shape the world around us.
Porphyra will take the audience on an epic musical journey from the triumphs of Alexander the Great to the glories of Byzantium. The electric guitar, in joyous harmony with the tzoura (the bouzouki’s smaller cousin) and Greek percussion, sings the lives of the dreams and ambitions of two lovers who made their own fate and altered the course of history. The opera tells the story of Grand Prince Vladimir of Kievan Rus, the first Russian Empire, and Princess Anna Porphyrogenita of Constantinople, princess of Byzantium, the cultural beacon of the Mediterranean during Western Europe’s Dark Ages.

The year is 988AD. Emperor Basil II rules over Byzantium. His reign will usher in a second Golden Age for Greece. But, civil war threatens to destroy Constantinople from within. On the northern front, Russian Grand Prince Vladimir, begins the unification of the Kievan Rus.  Ambitious to attain more glory, he marches towards the Byzantine capital of Constantinople. Embattled by the Bulgarians, a civil war and other enemies, Basil dispatches his sister Anna to negotiate a treaty with Vladimir. A smitten Vladimir seeks truce only if he can marry the Porphyrogenita, a princess “born of the royal purple.” Anna refuses to marry a pagan barbarian. Unwaivered, Vladimir keeps his eyes on the prize, Princess Anna and the City of Gold. He sends his fabled six thousand strong Varangian Guard, to aid Basil in the civil wars. Most importantly, Vladimir converts his nation to Greek Orthodox Christianity in order to marry Anna.

But, will love be strong enough to overcome that which sword and shield cannot? Will Greece survive these unprecedented obstacles?  This is the story of Anna and Vladimir.
The love that ROCKED the world!

Porphyra's album "Faith, Struggle,Victory" has won best ROCK ALBUM 2016 for The Akademia Music Awards and our production is now awarded by the UNESCO world heritage organization. Learn how to support our effort. Our illustrated brochure and promotional video are on our website http://porphyraband.com/rock-opera/

The Hellenic-American Center of the Arts
Panagiotis Karousos & Billy Chrissochos