Poets and mucisians on the main stage, Melba Hall.

Amphibian Fate: a tribute to Nikos Kavvadias was presented in front of a captivated audience on Sunday 5th of June, keeping its promise to deliver a night steeped in the deep azure of the sea.

Melbourne’s Greek community paid tribute to the poet of the sea who came to our shores 60 years ago and sang our town in the unforgettable poem Yara Yara.

The poetry and music night was flawlessly presented in Melbourne University’s Melba Hall in a bilingual performance that inspired the men and women of all ages who attended Amphibian Fate.

The music of Thanos Mikroutsikos and Mariza Koch came alive for the first time in over twenty years under the music directorship of local composer Elizabeth Exintaris while 19 years old soprano Christiana Aloneftis stole the performance with the quality of her voice and the emotion she infused into popular songs like Fata Morgana and The Southern Cross. Audrey Fine on the flute completed the music ensemble.

Nikos Kavvadias is a poet who walks on a tightrope between life and death with the sea being the canvass where powerful emotions, passions, longings, regrets and endless journeys unfold.

Local poets Dimitris Troaditis and Dina Gerolymou read Kavvadias’ poems in Greek in a powerful performance that brought out the soul of the poems.

They were complimented by Angela Costi and Nick Trakakis’ reading in English who rose to the occasion in their challenging task of giving the melody and meaning of Kavvadias’ poetry in translation.

Poet and lawyer Dean Kalymniou set the scene for Amphibian Fate with an insightful speech that traced the steps of Nikos Kavvadias in Melbourne.

Arts’ patron and ambassador of the Ian Potter Museum Ms Elly Symons presented the program and smoothed the way between the different components of the event that was described by attendees as one that raises the standards while many asked for the event to be repeated.

Media Announcement

Melbourne’s Greek- Australian poets and musicians are celebrating the work of renowned modern Greek poet Nikos Kavvadias who penned Yara Yara and The Southern Cross.

Antipodes Festival is proud to present Amphibian Fate, a bilingual poetry and music night in honour of the poet of the sea, Nikos Kavvadias, on June 5 at Melba Hall.

Kavvadias visited Australia in the 1950s, and was particularly inspired by
Melbourne. He spoke of the city in the poem, Yara Yara, while another of his poems, The Southern Cross, has since become a popular Greek song.

Nikos Kavvadias was born in China in 1910 and grew up on the island of Cephallonia, Greece, before embarking on his long journeys upon ocean freighters as a wireless operator.

He chased “the lines of the horizons”, conversed with marabous, waited endlessly in the fog for his sweetheart, invited us to “dance on the fin of a shark” and sung of the “deeper stain” of humanity and of the “holy rust” that births us.

2011 marks 60 years since his visit to Melbourne. He arrived aboard the migrant ship S/S Cyrenia and spent a few days exploring the city and its surroundings before he embarked for the next port. He spent his whole life at sea.

Local poets and musicians will pay tribute to the poet of the sea in this bilingual event which will feature poets, Angela Costi, Dimitri Troaditis, Nick Trakakis, Dean Kalymniou and Dina Gerolymou reading Kavvadias’ works in Greek and English.

Concert pianist Elizabeth Exintaris, accompanied by vocalist Christiana Aloneftis will present works by Greek composers Thanos Mikroutsikos and Mariza Koch who wrote music for many of Kavvadias’ poems.

Mikroutsikos was shot to fame after producing the hugely successful album The Southern Cross in 1978 and since he’s been performing Kavvadia every year in sold out events.

Visit: for more information on Kavvadias.

When: Sunday 5th June, 6pm
Where: Melba Hall
Tickets: $15

All proceeds will be donated to the Indigenous Literacy Project.
Media enquiries: Dina Gerolymou on 9662 27 22



“Lights of Melbourne. Yara Yara flows languidly
among freighters huge and mute….”



BY FAR the most popular song cycle ever produced by composer Thanos
Mikroutsikos, Stavros tou Notou (Southern Cross) has never been put on
in its entirety in the 26 years since its release. The work, which sets the
poetry of Nikos Kavadias to music, was harshly criticised at first, only to
sell a groundbreaking – for Greek standards at least – 700,000 copies in its
two editions to date. It will be performed as a whole at the Megaron Mousikis’
Alexandra Triandi Hall in six concerts on March 17-22.

“In 1979, when the record came out, all the big newspapers in Greece, with no
exceptions whatsoever, were against it,” Mikroutsikos told the press on March
8. “One music critic even went as far as to suggest that a dictionary of
marine terms should have been included in the packaging in order to make the
lyrics more comprehensible.” Kavadias’ reception in the literary world was
hardly any better. For three decades up till his death in 1975, aged 64, he
was referred to as a lesser poet, a diary poet or, in the best of cases,
someone whose writings gave an account of the life of sailors. “Very few
people at the time had come to realise that the sea was only a conceit for
Kavadias,” Mikroutsikos pointed out. “He was an expressionist poet and
occasionally a surrealist. People were confused by his subject-matter and his
use of rhyme at a time when the so-called ’30s generation had done away with
rhyme altogether.”

Mikroutsikos, who first put three poems by Kavadias to music at the age of 15,
referred to Southern Cross as “a seminal work” in his career. “It is an
album that has won over three generations of Greeks,” he said. “Kavadias’
poetry had nothing to do with either mere description or reality. And the
younger generation who hold their lighters up in concerts have picked up on
the ‘escape from reality’ theme underlining his work.”

It was Yiannis Koutras who first sang Southern Cross together with
Vassilis Papakonstantinou and Aimilia Sarri. Some of the songs – in
particular, “Federico Garcia Lorca“, “Kuro Siwo” and “The Knife” – were
performed live by the composer himself in the first concerts back in the ’80s.
In the work’s revised edition (with new orchestrations) in 1991 under the name
Lines on the Horizon, which also contained six more of Kavadias’ poems
set to music, Mikroutsikos performed some of the songs himself. He was also
accompanied by singers George Dalaras and the Katsimicha Brothers.

Comprising eighteen songs (one of them, “Mareas”, hasn’t been released
before), the composer’s Megaron concerts will feature Lavrentis Mahairitsas,
Christos Thivaios and Yiannis Kotsiras as well as Yiannis Koutras. The
Southern Cross – Lines on the Horizon song cycle will be
performed every evening in the second part of the concert. The first part will
be made up of Mikroutsikos compositions paying homage to the teachers who had
the most profound impact on his work. The concerts of March 17 and 18 will
open with works dedicated to Manos Hadjidakis: the piano suite Good Morning
Mr Hadjidakis with soloist Kalliope Germanou and Gioconda 87 – a
short piece for harpsichord and electric bass. The latter will not be played
live but will be accompanied by a video projection featuring moments from
Hadjidakis’ life and a dance piece choreographed by Mikroutsikos’ daughters,
Cecile and Constantina. March 19 and 20 will bring two works based on Ritsos
poetry: Moonlight Sonata performed by Costas Thomaidis and Fence
II with Georgia Syllaiou on vocals and Thodoris Economou on the piano. The
cycle of songs An Old Man of Alexandria and a new composition, So
They May Come, which will open the March 21 and 22 concerts, pay tribute
to CP Cavafy.

Athens News, March 2005


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