Monday, 11 April 2022

1st Sacred Music Festival


The Ministry of Culture & Sports, the Greek National Opera and Eurolife FFΗ present the 1st Sacred Music Festival, a new large-scale cultural event that will take place at 17 historical landmarks in the area of Plaka and the centre of Athens, on Holy Monday 18, Holy Tuesday 19 and Holy Wednesday 20 of April 2022. The Festival, curated by Giorgos Koumendakis, will feature a marathon of 62 concerts and artistic events, highlighting numerous and unexpected aspects of the relationship between religious worship and music, in museums, archaeological sites, churches, streets and squares.

More than 400 emerging and already distinguished Greek artists, musicians, choristers, singers, cantors, composers, actors, and conductors participate in an unprecedented immersive experience in the streets of Plaka and the centre of Athens. For three consecutive days, from 18 to 20 April 2022, the musical relay race of the 1st Sacred Music Festival will bring to the foreground great works from the international repertoire of traditional and contemporary music revolving around religious worship. The Festival’s events will be held at the Acropolis Museum, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, the Fethiye Mosque, the Bath House of the Winds, the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments “Fivos Anoyanakis” – Centre for Ethnomusicology, the Metochion of the Holy Sepulchre church, Dionysius the Areopagite pedestrian street, the Athens University History Museum, the Parnassos Literary Society concert hall, the Museum of Modern Greek Culture, the little church of St Elissaios (where the famous Greek author Alexandros Papadiamantis used to chant), the Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum, the Cathedral Basilica of St Dionysius the Areopagite, as well as along three routes led by the Bands of the Hellenic Air Force, Army, and Navy (Dionysius the Areopagite St – Apostolou Pavlou St – Kapnikarea Square, the ring road underneath the Acropolis, and Mitropoleos St – Monastiraki).

The Sacred Music Festival includes concerts and events centred on the music that is invoked or written for religious purposes, seen from a very wide aesthetic and conceptual perspective. During the three days of the Festival, the concerts, the music theatre events and the rest of the performances will try to bring out the multi-dimensional contribution of sacred music to the development and evolution of Western culture.

The Festival’s events propose an undogmatical approach to sacred music: traditional music, national schools, classical, contemporary, and Baroque music, Byzantine music in churches, music theatre, Greek art music, visual installations, and performances.

From archaeological sites, churches and small museums (with a capacity of 30-100 visitors) to open air spaces (pedestrian streets, squares, courtyards) that can host up to 1,500-2,000 visitors, the 1st Sacred Music Festival proposes a musical wandering that is at once a large-scale public event, set to bring out the importance of music for the community and the special significance of sacred music in the long-standing relationship between audience and musical tradition.

The 1st Sacred Music Festival attempts to illuminate concepts and emotions such as repentance, solemnity, redemption, atonement and resurrection, through compositions by Rossini, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Palestrina, Theodorakis, Hadjidakis, piano works by Bach / Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel, Messiaen, Kurtág, etc, as well as choral works by Verdi, Poulenc, Debussy, etc. The three-day programme also includes German lamentations, sacred songs, and choral songs from the Mediterranean region, 20th-century works revolving around lament, music of the Sufi Dervishes of Istanbul, dirges for Virgin Mary, encomia of the Epitaph liturgy and ecclesiastical hymns associated with Alexandros Papadiamantis, sound installations, new works by Greek composers, and readings accompanied by music.

In the 62 concerts audience members will have the chance to be introduced to great works of sacred music inspired by the notions of worship and religious sentiment through artists and ensembles, such as, among others, Marcellos Chryssicos, Myrsini Margariti, Theodora Baka, Dimitris Bakas, the saxophone ensemble Sax Nouveau, the Idimelon Byzantine Choir, Philippos Tsalahouris, Kyriakos Kalaitzidis, the Female vocal ensemble Equálibi, Spyros Kallivokas, the Tropos Byzantine Choir, Constantinos Angelidis, the Oros Ensemble, Apostolis Koutsogiannis, the Sibílima Ensemble, Mania Papadimitriou, Vassilis Papavassiliou, Charalambos Angelopoulos, Nikos Laaris, Stephanos Nasos, Apostolos Palios, Aristotelis Papadimitriou, Piano for Two, Melina Tsinavou, the GNO Intercultural Orchestra, Harris Lambrakis, Yiannis Maramathas, Iason Marmaras, Marina Satti, Martha Mavroidi, Erini, Dimitris Kountouras, the Voci Contra Tempo ensemble, Sophia Gioldasi, Nicolas Vassiliou, Chrissa Maliamani, the ΜεῙΖοΝ Ensemble, and the Bands of the Hellenic Air Force, Navy, and Army.

The 1st Sacred Music Festival is a synergy between the Ministry of Culture and Sports and entities supervised by it, the Greek National Opera and Eurolife FFH. The concept and artistic direction of the Festival is by the artistic director of the GNO, Giorgos Koumendakis.


Practical information:

• Audience members can enter all venues for free, on a first come first served basis. No advance booking is required.

• Due to the limited space available in many of the festival venues, some of the concerts will be repeated up to three times per day, to give the chance to as large an audience as possible to attend them.

• The concerts of the festival will be of short duration (from 25 to 40 minutes on average), so that audience members can attend more than one, if they wish so.

• The distance from one venue to the other is small, so that audience members have the chance to enjoy many of the festival events.

• The detailed programme will be available online at and, while the printed programme that will be distributed to the public will include a map with all the venues, summary descriptions of the events, and QR codes referring to the detailed programme on the GNO website.

• All preventive measures against COVID-19 will be adhered to in all venues.