Greek Music Journey 2015 Raving Reviews for Yannis Kotsiras!

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Greek popular singer Yannis Kotsiras was the new guest star during Greek Music Journey 2015.  The sold out performance was given on Friday, April 17, 2015 at New York’s landmark theatre the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College.  Kotsiras was welcomed on his first personal performance in the U.S by a full house of AKTINA's and CYPRECO's fans and supporters from all walks of life and ages Greek and non-Greek.  The concert produced by Elena Maroulleti and co-presented by the cultural non-profits AKTINA Productions, Inc., and CYPRECO of America, Inc., was given to benefit public service media AKTINA FM and AKTINA TV.


From the very first moment that he walked on stage and throughout his performance which lasted for 2½ hours, Kotsiras was showered with non-stop applause and cheers from his fans who secured their seats very early on in a concert that was sold out two months in advance.


GMJ 2015 Kotsiras PerformanceThe multi-talented Yannis Kotsiras who is also a musician and a composer, performed playing the guitar and the harmonica at times.  He was accompanied by three talented musicians with whom he collaborates for many years, Vangelis Machairas on the bouzouki, tzoura and mandolin, Akis Katsoupakis, piano, keyboards and orchestrations and Kostas Michalos electric and classic guitar.  His performance included a wide variety of his most loved and popular songs which mark and highlight his career over the years, as well as songs from his latest album. He opened his program with his everlasting hit "Efta Potiria" (Seven Glasses).


In his welcoming remarks Kotsiras said that he felt exceptionally happy and honored for being invited to perform and for visiting once again, however as he noted this time around "on my own", meaning giving his first personal performance.  Referring to the concert he stressed that "it has a very special meaning" since its core mission is to support AKTINA and its media outlets noting that, "every Greek voice outside of the boundaries of Greece is extremely important". After introducing his musicians he expressed exceptional thanks to AKTINA for inviting him to perform and share his music.  "We truly thank AKTINA for giving us the opportunity to also gain something, and that is to play our music, as well as for the opportunity to travel and discover new places and more importantly during a time of need, for giving us the opportunity to also contribute in this benefit cause, thus we truly thank AKTINA" he stressed.


He continued with his hit love song "Gia Sena" (For You) for which he wrote the music and then performed songs from his newly released album "Oti Thymase Den Petheni" (Whatever you remember does not die) based on music by the legendary composer Thanos Mikroutsikos and lyrics by Odysseas Ioannou, as well as other songs by Mikroutsikos whom he highly praised for his important contributions to Greek music.  The first part of the program closed with an instrumental rendition of the song "Vale Na Pio" (Give me a drink) composed by Lavrentis Machairitsas. "Machairitas is one of the most important songwriters of Greece" he noted adding that AKTINA is bringing him back at the same theater in a few months, on November 6th, and urged everyone to secure their seats early. "Our concert was sold out 2 months early he stressed, so make your arrangements early for Machairitsas".


During the second part of the program Kotsiras made a special reference and paid a tribute to the late legendary singer Dimitris Mitropanos whom as he stressed, admired and loved very much and whose third anniversary since his passing coincided with the concert.  "Mitropanos was one of the greatest Greek singers and just like today he left leaving behind him a great inheritance" he stressed and then he performed a set of everlasting songs by Mitropanos including the great hits "Ladadika" and "Roza".


GMJ 2015 Maroulleti KotsirasYannis Kotsiras also offered exceptional interpretations of a set of songs by the great Greek composers Mikis Theodorakis and Stavros Xarhakos. He performed the everlasting hits, "Vrehi sti Ftochogitonia" (It rains in the poor neighborhood) and Kaimos (Pain) by Theodorakis and "Aspri Mera Ke Yia Mas" (Bright day for us) by Xarhakos.  These songs are extraordinary and have written their own unique history in Greek music and as he noted "they sealed other eras".


Kotsiras also paid a special tribute to Elena Maroulleti by dedicating his great hit "Handra Thalassia" (Blue Charm), a sweet song which says to always wear a blue charm to avoid the evil eye.  "This woman has truly given her soul so that this concert is successful and she also offered us an exceptional hospitality, myself and my musicians dedicate this song to Elena Maroulleti from the bottom of our hearts" he said as he presented the song.


GMJ 2015 Yannis Kotsiras AwardThe organizers also bestowed a special honor and a surprise for Yannis Kotsiras. He was honored with AKTINA’s "Distinguished Artist Award" in recognition of his important contributions to Greek music and for supporting the organization’s non-profit mission with his participation in this benefit concert.  This award is presented to selected artists who participate in AKTINA’s Greek Music Journey concert series. Yannis Kotsiras was the second recipient. The first recipient was the legendary singer/songwriter Lavrentis Machairitsas who was AKTINA's guest star in November 2013.


The evening also included honorary presentations from Council Member from Astoria Costa Constantinides who awarded Proclamations on behalf of the City of New York to AKTINA Productions, Inc., recognizing among other, "22 years of excellence in preserving Hellenic identity and culture" and to Yannis Kotsiras "for his outstanding and enduring artistic contributions to the Hellenic world".


During the presentation Mr. Constantinides highly praised AKTINA for the important and valuable work it produces through its highly rated programs AKTINA FM and AKTINA TV, as well as through its "worthy" cultural performances and urged everyone in the audience to continue their support.


AKTINA’s new concert with Yannis Kotsiras was extremely successful and captivating. People were engaged from beginning to end clapping and singing along.  At times it seemed that the audience who had become a big back up chorus who had rehearsed the songs and that they were part of the program.  The experience was amazing for all, for the organizers, the artists and above all for AKTINA’s fans who packed the theater to enjoy a one of a kind performance.  Yannis Kotsiras also stood out for his exceptional talent and character. He embraced the audience with warmth establishing a very friendly end family-oriented environment during which he made important references to the songs, shared unique stories and even some jokes. In return the audience rewarded him and his musicians with very loud and non-stop applause and cheers.


Yannis Kotsiras was so moved from the whole experience that he decided at the end of the show to treat the organizers and the audience to a spontaneous rendition of Frank Sinatra’s legendary song "New York".  "Following all of these honors he said, I have to give back something.  Tonight I will do something that I never did before…I will exercise my English"! and then performed Frank Sinatra's everlasting hit "New York" which at the end turned to the renowned Mikis Theodorakis instrumental "Zorba the Greek" something that truly lifted the audience.


Greek Music Journey 2015 was made possible in part thanks to the generous support of Arch Capital Group (US), The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Investors Bank and the catering sponsors, Ammos Estiatorio, Bayside Diner and Madison Restaurant.  The Media Sponsors were, AKTINA FM, AKTINA TV, the Greek weekly "I Efimerida Tis Neas Yorkhs" and Mega Cosmos satellite channel.  A team of very dedicated AKTINA and CYPRECO volunteers worked tirelessly for this benefit concert among them, Elena Maroulleti, concert Executive Producer, Tom Stouras, videography, Caroline Ioannou, Sr. Production Assistant, Penny Chapman, Vlassis Anastasiou, Kosmas Vrakas, Front House and Operations Assistant, Anastasio Mentis, Photographer and the Interns, Tania Moutaftsis and Irene Constantinou.  The amazing sound and lights were handled by the talented technical staff of the Kaye Playhouse and the acoustic guitars for the performance were courtesy of the local musician/singer Elias Makrinos.  A Playbill with biographical information was distributed for free to all in attendance.


Photos above by: Anastasio Mentis


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