Online festivals


4th Online Festival ''Mediterranean Desert''

SNF Lead Donor of GNO


Mediterranean Desert is a cycle of short piano pieces composed by Giorgos Koumendakis, commissioned by the Michael Marks Charitable Trust and first performed in 2000. The new video for GNO’s 4th Online Festival features excerpts from the work performed by internationally acclaimed soloist Lorenda Ramou and directed by award-wining visual artist Leda Papaconstantinou.

Lorenda Ramou notes: “It is the year-long observation of his Mediterranean companions, birds, insects, fishes and plants, which triggered Giorgos Koumendakis to compose his piano cycle Mediterranean Desert (1998-2000). The composer’s musical language draws both upon the modality of Mediterranean music, the Βyzantine psalmody and the Balkan traditions, as well as the baroque polyphony and the compositional output of Beethoven and Janáček. Even if these elements remain identifiable in his work, they are filtered and combined into a deeply personal compositional blend, leading to a music with flexible polyphonic lines, often irregular and elusive, which create melismas close to the Greek traditional folk music but also to the virtuosity of French baroque works for harpsichord. The musical portraits of Mediterranean living beings were created through the close bond the composer felt with them; but they’re also sounds of another world, an increasingly vulnerable one, which little by little drifts away into oblivion.”

Koumendakis’ unadorned musical writing gives away his love for Beethoven. Mostly tonal, his music integrates modal and atonal elements, and sometimes in an obvious way, while other times in a less obvious way, it converses with many more composers, such as Iannis Xenakis.

4th Greek National Opera Online Festival “Mediterranean Desert”

The Greek National Opera’s 4th Online Festival titled “Mediterranean Desert” and curated by Giorgos Koumendakis brings to our screen four special recitals via GNO TV. The Festival’s videos will be streamed via GNO TV for free from 12 to 26 April 2021, and will remain available to the public for 30 days after their premiere. The Festival is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [] to enhance the Greek National Opera’s artistic outreach.

Baritone Dimitri Platanias, pianists Stéphanos Thomopoulos, Lorenda Ramou, Sophia Tamvakopoulou, visual artist Leda Papaconstantinou, and the Galan Trio, present works by Labelet, Xyndas, Samaras, Kamilieris, Spathis, Kalomiris, Constantinidis, Xenakis, Theodorakis, Koumendakis in four filmed recitals. The 4th Online Festival will be streamed entirely via GNO TV, for free.

The Artistic Director of the Greek National Opera Giorgos Koumendakis notes: “For the 4th Online Festival we invited leading music and visual artists to present us their own readings of famous and lesser known works of Greek composers. The invisible line connecting all these works we will watch and listen to, is the sense of the sea and, for this reason, the Festival was named ‘Mediterranean Desert’. We invite you all to enjoy them, with your thoughts wandering like a light summer breeze.”

Creative team – Cast

Music Giorgos Koumendakis

Piano Lorenda Ramou

Director Leda Papaconstantinou

Director's note

say something; say something clear; as clear as possible; say, thank you May beetle; say, thank you little fly; say, thank you praying mantis; thank you night; thank you day; thank you light, shadow, water, clouds, sun, moon; thank you night; thank you midday sun shedding your light upon flat lands from above; thank you hands, my hands, Lorenda’s, Ιonas’ and Pyghi’s; thank you praying mantis who thoughtfully treated me as a friend; thank you seeds; it’s seeds that fly when the wind blows leading them from where they live, from the body of the plant, to other places, where they can sprout; perhaps; not all of them; thank you insects who were born, lived and died; and whose stages, pretty much all of them, we have in common; thanks for finding the truth through lies; through mistakes; it was not a mistake nor a lie, it was a failure, of observation; most of all thank you observation, because I observe, see and experience nature; because I am part of nature, I am nature in exactly the same way all this is; the things that show; the things that we can hear, and smell, the things that we can feel; even imperceptibly; so I saw neither the butterfly nor the caterpillar that came out of the cocoon; yet I did see a part of all this; I saw it many times, so that there would be something I could throw away, something to keep; again and again and again; the journey is from the sea to the shore and vice versa; and then; says Giorgos Koumendakis; the desert; and vice versa from the desert; to the big Mediterranean basin; blue, yellow; muddy, cemented; shiny, horrible; wavy, noisy or calm; the desert; which we all know and do not fear; because it is our desert; goodnight.

— Leda Papaconstantinou

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