August 2008 Archives

Greece Corinth railway line with freight Energy is a commodity with variable value, it seems, depending on where you are. 'We Greeks,' said a fellow-traveller on the train as we journeyed out of Athens, 'could have free hot water and free lighting all year; but we prefer to pay for it... Why put an annual 2000 hours of sunshine to good use, when we can produce energy more expensively in other ways?' He was, of course, being ironic.

The train tracks from Athens to Corinth are shiny and new, and very impressive; but there is as yet little stock to run on them. The evidence of intention to develop the Peloponnese peninsula region's economy is plain. There are huge shunting areas and massive swathes of land ready for industrial investment and construction.

Sunshine is (almost) free
But where were the solar energy panels and, perhaps, the power windmills? We saw almost none.

It's not the business of visitors to a neighbour in the European Union to make critical comment. There are doubtless plenty of reasons why renewable energy is apparently not as yet the Next Big Thing in Greece.... but when you're from the UK and accustomed to the sort of sunshine which might, saved up, boil an egg (I jest, a little) for each of us over the year, the solar blessings of the Mediterranean seem to be a gift best put to good advantage.

Counting blessings
We all fail to see the benefits of things we're familiar with. It's more complicated than at first glance to convert sunshine into 'free' energy, but perhaps our train companion had a point.

Read more about Energy and Climate Change.

And a note too on Africa, where the issues are much more acute: Africa awash in sunlight, but not solar energy

Athens Lykavitos (Lycabettus) Hill, Chapel of Agios Georgios at sunset Tonight is the full moon in Athens, Greece, when by tradition everyone attends free events till late on the archeological sites; and this year there's also a partial lunar eclipse over the city. But for this feral kitten, silently padding the very highest point of Athens in search of scraps from restaurant diners atop Lycabettus Hill, it will be business as usual.

Athens Feral kitten stalks the wall around St George's Chapel and the restaurant at the top of Lycabettus Hill

Every year since 1953, the August Moon Festival in Athens on the night of the full moon - believed to be the most beautiful such event of the year - has been a celebration open to everyone, with free performances of opera, traditional dance and classical music on the Acropolis and Roman Agora, as well as events located in other unique and incomparable historic sites of Athens such as the Odeion of Herodus Attikus .

This is truly an occasion, if you are in Athens at the right time, not to be missed! (And if you're somewhere else in Greece, you may still be lucky anyway - consult the Greek Ministry of Culture for possible events in other locations.)


See more of Hilary's photographs: Camera & Calendar
and read more about Travel & Tourism and Athens Music
.


More info on Athens, the August Moon Festival and
Mount Lycabettus / Lycavitos Hill, the Lycavitos Restaurant, St George's / Agios Georgios Chapel and access via the Funicular/ Cablecar
; and read more about Athens Beyond the Acropolis.

Leading by umbrella How do people come to be leaders in their communities? Are they anointed or appointed? Do they take or earn the authority to represent their peers? What are the rationales behind their belief that they should lead? Do others agree? And what are their objectives, and why? It all depends on where you're coming from, and what sort of 'community' it is. So how should those who work in regeneration with communities and their leaders approach this complex and delicate issue?

The answer to these questions is, of course, that there is in fact No One Answer.

People come to be leaders through many different routes. For some authority and legitimacy is always a struggle. For others it just comes with who you are.

Different 'communities' for different purposes
This is a tale of different 'communities' in different places and at different times. Some communities are geographically based, some interest based, some economic, some cultural.

'Communities' can comprise locations defined by their mono-cultural base (whether Protestant, Punjabi or Presbyterian), whilst at the other end of the spectrum some exist only as loosely connected groups of people who enjoy Politics, Portsmouth City or Painting. Leadership in these different communities will obviously not be of just one kind.

Intentions and expected outcomes
The intended outcomes of the leadership role vary. Some people believe they're there to uphold tradition and (in their mind) maintain stability in an unstable world. Others seek to be leaders precisely so they can change things.

Traditional leaders and those (at the opposite end of the spectrum) who are of the 'change the world' tendency often to see their remit as wide. Others have more piece-meal and modest expectations, perhaps to improve things in a specific and direct way.

Authority to lead
The really interesting thing is that traditionalists and revolutionaries alike usually derive their authority from (what they perceive as) universal social values or mores. But those who seek more modest and specific changes tend to legitimise their positions in reasoned ways, perhaps in terms of the avoidance of harm or similar logically justifiable and rational objectives.

There is a chasm between those who exert overall authority as such - whether to maintain the status quo or radically to alter it - and those who seek to manage specific change, which they believe can be demonstrated to be for the better.

And these forms of influence are not randomly distributed. They tend to be associated with differences in community / cultural experience, age, gender and class. One person's assumption of power and influence may well become, without any such overt intention, another person's disempowerment.

Competing beliefs and challenges
Community leadership and wider social interests are sometimes hard to bring together in a world where there are competing beliefs about what legitimate authority in a community might be; and indeed about what constitutes a 'community'.

Here lies one of the biggest challenges for those of us who seek to work with people in their (and our) own localities. Delivering stability and change together is hard to handle well.

In diversity lies strength?
Where the bottom line is overt - in for instance FTSE 100 Board Rooms - the evidence is incontrovertible, that diversity of gender (e.g. The McKinsey Report: Women Matter) and culture enhances good decision-making.

But how can (or 'should') we apply that knowledge in communities where at present the bottom line is not overt (what exactly is being 'lead'?) and is certainly not up for discussion?

Read also
Social Diversity & Inclusion
and
'Workable' Regeneration: Acknowledging Difference To Achieve Social Equity ('Regeneration Rethink')

Athens Music

| 0 Comments | 0 TrackBacks
Athens Music Old gramphone and brass instruments in market stall 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!

Athens Music Street cafe accordion player

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 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.

Athens Music Cembalon player & girl watching

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.

Athens Music Bouzouki shop Athens Music Barrel organ man

Athens Music African musicians with drums, guitar and CDs

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.

Athens Music Accordion player walking to work Athens Music Not-very-serious banjo duo

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.

Athens Music Megaron Musikis Concert Hall Athens Music Greek classical chamber music composers of the C19th & 20th Athens Music Maria Callas pic Athens Music Opera poster

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.

Athens Music Strolling jazz trio

Athens Music Statue with lyre Athens Music Shop guitars etc Athens Music Dora Stratou poster

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...

Athens Music Young man buying a saxophone in the market


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...

BBC Proms Royal Albert Hall The RLPO finished their season in style this evening, with a sell-out BBC Proms concert in London's Royal Albert Hall. There was a real excitement as the audience departed after the performance, matched by the sense of achievement RLPO players derive from working with Principal Conductor Vasily Petrenko. This is surely how professional orchestral musicians like to feel at the end of a year's hard work.

08.08.01 BBC Proms RAH after the RLPO concert 029a 500x430.jpg

A date at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms is a highlight of the season for any orchestra, and this was no exception for the RLPO, an orchestra with a distinguished history. Vasily Petrenko and the RLPO's programme for the evening was the World Premiere of Graven Image for Orchestra by the RLPO's Composer in the House, Kenneth Hesketh, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Minor, Opus 45 (soloist Paul Lewis) and the Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances, Opus 45, with Mussorgsky's Gopak as an encore.

And happily even those who couldn't join the Proms audience in person were able at absolutely no cost to do so, as for every Prom, live via BBC Radio 3.

Reviews for the concert reflected the enthusiasm on the night.

But now the players are off for a well-earned break, applause still ringing in their ears....

See more of Hilary's photographs: Camera & Calendar
and read more about Music, Musicians & Orchestras