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On Cyprus, a dream team is born

They almost cancelled the Pharos chamber music festival when the European Union bailiffs trashed the local banks. Sponsors vanished overnight and the editors struggled to fill the programme’s acknowledgements page .

But the artists refused to give up. Asked to reduce their fees, they waived them altogether. Asked to rejig their programmes, they tore them up and started again.

Michala Petri, the recorder virtuoso, had been planning a solo recital. So had Mahan Esfahani, the brilliant young harpsichordist. In a flash of intuition, Garo Keheyan, the festival’s president, wondered if they might not like to work together. Mahan told Michala he had grown up with her recordings. Michala told Mahan that his rigour reminded her of her younger self.

At last night’s recital, they ignored the printed programme and played music that brought the best out of each other in rehearsal – Bach, Handel, Telemann, Vivaldi. The symbiosis was remarkable. When they spoke to the audience between pieces, they finished each other’s sentences. When they played, each anticipated the other’s breath. There was not a stale note all night.

The best matches are made in heaven. This one was born of adversity. By the night’s end, plans were taking shape. A legend made in Cyprus will be heard around the world. Banks may crash. The music plays on.




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  1. Mary Finnigan says:

    Very good! I love this.

  2. Thanks for posting; it is full of hope

  3. We are also very happy that Norman Lebrecht is here in Cyprus to attend some of the Pharos Chamber Music Festival concerts. Conversations with him are always enlightening and extremely interesting. Thank you so much, Norman!

  4. Fantastic. They rolled with the punches and turned misfortune into opportunity. That leaves open the larger question, i.e., for people collectively (aka “the people) to roll back the EU so that they are not picked dry.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      They weren’t “picked dry”. They borrowed themselves into a deep hole and didn’t even use all that borrowed money to develop their country. No victims here. Nobody is forced to borrow like crazy and then riot in the streets when it’s time to pay up.

      • neil van der linden says:

        Indeed. Of course it were not exactly the same people who, abusing EU’s open market, created a taxhaven paradise and ran off with the profits and those who suffer the most now, the regular population. But the regular population meanwhile let it happen, and parties along. Cyprus became a whitewashing paradise for Russian, hence Putin’s protest when the EU demanded some form of payback from the Cypriotic banks when it bailed out Cyprus’ miserably failed economy. And of course Putin’s protest was not on behalf of the regular Russian’s interest, but for his rich friends, because he never acts on behalf of the regular Russian, only on behalf of his rich friends.

  5. Marvelous!

    An example to my own country, Portugal, also deeply indebted, how Arts can and do overcome economics…

  6. neil van der linden says:

    Fantastic generosity from all artists. Magnificent spirit.

  7. The same has happened with Canadian Day in Rome for July 5. Our banks are in good shape but our government is bankrupt on culture. Invited to participate in Festival of Nations by the Acc. Filarmonica Romana, Canadian artists have waived normal fees, met with each other during their winter tours to rehearse, and have re arranged their summer schedules. The result is 12 will make their Rome debuts, 3 composers will be premiered, films by and of Glenn Gould will be presented by Wm. Littler, Toronto Star’s music and dance columnist and lecturer, and Canadian Moosehead beer will be on hand. Artists include the Borealis String Qt from Vancouver, Guillaume Tidof, violinist from Edmonton, Kornel Wolak, clarinetist, and the jazz/world music Dominic Mancuso Quartet from Ontario, and Jana Miller, soprano and conductor/pianist Jordan de Souza from Montreal. Ann

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