Nobody is looking forward to the biggest Greek concert ever held at QPAC more than the venue’s long-serving chief executive. That’s because, as his name suggests, John Kotzas has Greek heritage – and that’s something he’s proud of.

So, when Axion Esti and Masterworks fills the Concert Hall at QPAC with music and emotion on June 5 he will be there enjoying the fruits of Greek culture with everyone else.

It will be a stunning one-night-only concert in Brisbane, bringing together internationally acclaimed works of Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis and Nobel Prize-winning poet Odysseas Elytis.

Now if you think you don’t know the works of Mikis Theodorakis you will probably be wrong. He wrote the signature music for the acclaimed 1964 film Zorba the Greek – music that is now part of world culture.

This remarkable concert event will showcase the talent of international vocalist Dimitris Basis, acclaimed Greek Australian conductor George Ellis, Cantor George Karantonis, Greek Australian actor Tony Nikolakopoulos in the role of narrator and a 90-voice choir comprised of members of the QPAC Chamber Choir and three Greek community choirs.

Odysseas Elytis’s (1911-1996) landmark work, Axion Esti (1959) was set to music by Theodorakis and became a widely celebrated anthem, combining suffering and passion, spiritual lessons and poetic power.

Theodorakis, best known for composing the legendary Zorba’s Dance, is Greece’s most celebrated composer. He wrote more than 1000 songs and song-cycles whose melodies have become intrinsically linked with the heritage of Greek music. This unique event honours his legacy and celebrates the sheer musical beauty and timelessness of his masterwork compositions.

Adding the local Greek choirs to the event will make it a feelgood affair, according to John Kotzas.

“Any good public institution reflects the community it serves,” Kotzas says. “It’s part of reflecting on Australia’s multiculturalism. We need to have local, national and international relationships and this event will have all three.

“Connecting with our multicultural communities is a key priority for us and we’re proud to partner with Greek Festival of Sydney to present this celebration of the work of two brilliant artists in Mikis Theodorakis and Odysseas Elytis.

“Three local choirs will join with renowned national and international Greek performers under the baton of the much-loved George Ellis for a rousing concert of Greek music and poetry.

“Concerts like these that celebrate culture allow communities to see their heritage reflected on stage, reconnect those within the community to their roots and also provide opportunity for broader audiences to widen their understanding and appreciation for different cultures.”

It is the first time the various choirs have performed together – and rehearsals have been underway for months. In a wonderful finale moment, the Greek Orthodox Community’s care choir, with some members in their 90s (such as 91-year-old Apostolos Bellas who is making his Concert Hall debut), will join on stage.

Tom Drakopoulos from the Ellinikes Fones Choir,of the Greek Orthodox Community of St. George Brisbane, describes Axion Esti as “one of the finest pieces of work from the greatest composer Greece has ever produced”.

“It’s the masterpiece of both composer Mikis Theodorakis and Nobel Laureate poet Odysseas Elytis and to have it performed here in Brisbane at QPAC with our own community choirs on stage is truly incredible,” Drakopoulos says.

“Never before has something like this been staged. All three choirs have been in rehearsal for months. They will remain for many years after as one reminder of an event where the music and stories of Greece shone on the great Concert Hall stage. The audience is in for a truly remarkable experience as this concert will also include a number of Mikis Theodorakis’s popular songs programmed as Masterworks.”

The concert will also be honouring the 100th birthday of Mikis Theodorakis this year. Theodorakis died in 2021 at the age of 96.

Axion Esti and Masterworks, Concert Hall, QPAC, June 5, 7pm.

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