Α magical trip in Berlin ~ katarraktisvillage

Α magical trip in Berlin

Although we had a few difficulties, we managed to overcome those minor problems that we had and our article is finaly completed! A discussion with Mr. Christian, Mr. Pilavas, Ms Phaedra, children from the two choirs, and also Leuteris and Olga!

March has been over for three months now, but we will hold it in our memory with the warmest feelings. Our journey to Berlin was a special and fruitful experience for everyone who participated!
The programme could not have taken place without the excellent cooperation between the Chios Music School of Chios and Staats- und Domchor Berlin. Warms thanks to the institutions that cooperated for the realization of the programme, Universität der Künste Berlin , Sing-Akademie zu Berlin and of course to Allianz Foundation who constantly supports Chios Music Festival. Also, the Deutsch-Griechisches Jugendwerk / Ελληνογερμανικό Ίδρυμα Νεολαίας for the funding and the Embassy of Greece in Berlin that offered its auspices.
We also owe special thanks to the people who contributed the most to this artistic partnership, Kai-Uwe Jirka, Christian Filips, Tina Neubauer, Michalis Pilavas, Phaedra Giannelou, Tasos Koutsodontis and Andrianna Neamonitis.
The Chios Music Festival continues its activities with even greater passion and willingness for knowledge, collaboration and of course lots of music!

The highlight of the artistic collaboration was the concert, on Saturday 11/3, in the great Joseph-Joachim Concert Hall of the Universität der Künste Berlin (UdK). In a touching atmosphere, the Chios Music School presented to the German audience the rebetiko music, in original performances that the spectators followed intently, as well as the presentation of the festival's educational activities with refugee children. This was followed by the musical theater performance "Singing Trees, What Times Are These?", performed together by the Staats- und Domchor Berlin and the Choir of Chios Music School. The emotional charge was strong, as this original music theatre performance by Christian Filips was the one that brought the two choirs together for the first time at the Chios Music Festival in October 2021, inaugurating their collaboration.

Best and warm wishes to Chios!

1) I am Christian Filips, a poet, stage director and music dramaturge, born in Germany, by parents with a Yugoslavian background.

2) The Chios Music Festival asked the Berlin State- and Cathedral Choir to think about a program that would fit for an exchange with Chios Music School. Kai-Uwe Jirka asked me if I have an idea for such an exchange and I immediately said: Let us do a program on "Singing Trees.“ The climate grief, the sense of loss and mourning related to environmental destruction is a thing that connects us beyond borders. And it is an extremely important issue that children and grownups and the next generation are and should be aware of. When I came to Chios, we visited the Mastix villages and the museum and we heard the Mastiha song in an audio installation in the museum. Listening to this song was the moment when it was definitely clear that we are going to realize „Singing Trees“ as a combination of striking for the climate, singing Greek and German traditional songs about and sung by trees.

Their insecurities gradually transformed into self-confidence. Their dedication to their goal and their free of feuds teamwork led to a unique Osmosis of ideas and musical sounds where the dream came to life in the German capital from the 6th to the 13th March. The city revealed its history, culture and mainly its strange morals and open spirit (at least by those who hosted us). 

3) The choirs felt immediately connected to the idea. Since 2018, the FridaysForFuture movement is
 organized by young people all over the world. When we started with the idea in 2019 some children already felt connected to this movement. Coming to Chios, I was surprised that some the young people had never heard about FridaysForFuture or the problem of climate change. But their connection to the environment, especially to the problem of forest fires and to the importance of the Mastiha trees, was very strong of course. So they could also relate to the topic immediately.

4. The rehearsals went really well from the beginning on. I have to distinguish between three phases of rehearsals: In Berlin the children have been already aware of the current problem of Climate thing. But they were surprised to see that there is a lot of beautiful music from the past that deals with this problem already. And by this they were able to discover the past of their own city as well, being aware of the tree „Dicke Marie“ for example, one of the oldest oak trees in Berlin (planted in 1107) that seems to die at the moment because of the hot climate.

When I came to Chios I started rehearsing with the refugee kids from Camp Vial first, guided by Adrianna Neamoniti from Chios The kids were very open and brave and we music was our way out of language barriers. Before I came, I learned some of the songs in Farsi and Arabic so we had a way to communicate via music and singing. And this worked very well! The children in Chios Music school have been a bit surprised in the beginning to sing about such issues and to meet their neighbors from the camp. But I had the feeling that they understood after a while that there is only one world and one natural environment and that caring for this nature should unite all of us.
My favorite moment was the first rehearsal in the Homerion Cultural Center in Chios Island when all tree choral groups came together. I think it is a shame that the Municipal & Regional Theater of Northern Aegean in Chios does not seem to exist anymore. I was impressed by the technicians and by the staff doing their best for our performance, having just such a short time to rehearse and having so many different groups, languages and nations present. I think that an Island like Chios deserves a strong theater movement and that the politicians in Athens and Europe should care for more cultural activities on the island.

5. First I have to correct you: we had three choirs being engaged in the project, not two. The Chios Music School choir, the Berlin State- and Cathedral Choir and our Refugee Kids choir group from Vial, with children from Syria and Afghanistan. I think that this international encounter itself was already very important for the children. We live in a globalized world and we can only solve our environmental and political problems together. If the children learned this lesson by traveling to Chios or to Berlin, this would be the most central benefit for me. And when traveling through Europe, the kids also could see that traveling is a privilege already. For their friends living in Vial have not been able to travel with us.

6. I deeply fell in love with the island of Chios and its inhabitants. I think the mixture of cultures one can find there is very unique in the world. And I admire deeply the openness and I hope that we can continue working together in future. It is very important for me that people in Germany and Central Europe do not forget about the south and the border regions. We have to take more effort to collaborate, work together and share our problems. My personal wish would be to realize some works by the composer Jani Christou at Faná beach. Shortly before his death in a car accident, he had developed plans for wonderful music and even a music hall that should have been built there. Christou even bought the beach area. Unfortunately those plans all have not been realized and I am not sure how many people on Chios Island are familiar with the great work of Christou. I think it would be time to rediscover his music and to follow his legacy
Henry :
It was an awesome experience to be on Chios. The fact that choirs from different countries had the opportunity to sing together was a nice experience. I hope that I speak for the most of the choir members. The week that we spend on Chios was the most stressful but also the best week I‘ve ever had. The trip of the choir of the Chios music school to Berlin was also a awesome part of the singing trees program. It was nice to see some known faces again and to circularize with new people and connect with each other.

Daniel :
I'm not really into blogs and that stuff, but I can tell you, that my favourite trips in my life were those with the choir, and the time on Chios was maybe the best of them. To travel together was amazing after the Covid time, and then there was the mix of the music, your beautiful Island and the big heart of the people, wich made us feel we're friends for a long time already. I really enjoyed your stay in Berlin, too, and I hope we will meet again quite early

For me it was a very special project. Of course, it’s nice to perform it again and again over several years. But above all, both in Greece 2021 and in Berlin, the focus was on the exchange with many people. Making music together, experiencing concerts and getting to know each other through that was the most important thing for me. I will always remember the visit to the island of Chios and the joint rehearsals. Simply a great experience!

The trip to Germany was an unforgettable experience for us. We got to know different habits, we took part in concerts that we had never seen before, and we met people with whom we had common interests. Our visit and concert at UDK, the rehearsals with the choir children, with their teachers and the Cathedral will remain indelibly in my memory. The best experience for me was the sing along at St. Johanneskirche with the oratorio "Matthew Passion" by J.S.Bach as well as watching the rehearsal of the Berliner Philharmoniker.

In my opinion, the experiences we all had both in our island and in Berlin were unforgetable. Singing together, attending concerts, meeting each other and having fun together are all great memories. It's amazing how people from different countries, with different habits and cultures can work that well with the power of music. For me our trip in Berlin is one of the best experiences I' ve ever had. I will never forget all the amazing feelings, all the things I saw and experienced. It's definately one of my life moments that I will always remember.

Michalis Pilavas:
Sir, any news from Berlin?" 

As soon as we were all seated in our desks last September, they asked anxiously, the same question many times before the beginning of class. A persistent. inquiry to which there was no clear answer from my side, at least not in the beginning, thus not creating expectations on their teenage souls which. I wouldn't be able to fulfil later on. Simultaneously, though, the preparations for the Chios Musical Festival and the Greek- German youth Foundation were proceeding silently and steadily. 
And the more I started nodding in agreement in response to their torturous constant inquiry, the more the work was on their end with demanding in- and out of school rehearsals and this was positive, encouraging and rewarding to me. Hesitantly, towards Faidra and me, "but... rebetiko in Berlin"?" "We will sing an oratorio of J.S. Bach ?" "We will co-exist in choral works with the State Choir of the Berlin Cathedral ?" 

Our song of the mastictree coincided with their lindenbaum and their B. Brecht conversed with our G. Ritsos in the musical theatre performance "Singing Trees, what times are these? the topic being climate change. They were introduced to our rebeňko music like the blues of luben maga, the refugee and outcast of foreignness. And they entertained the refugee children. with the healing power of music, conveyed to them by Andrianna Nearoniti from her experience here to the context of the Chios Musical Festival.

Faidra Giannelou - Conductor:

This trip, to the capital of Germany, which is one of the most important centers of classical music in the world, was a challenge for all of us.  We sang, we played music, we listened, we experimented, we collaborated, we experienced so many feelings that will remain indelible in our memory.
This experience offered the children and us teachers an opportunity to learn and also to realise that we have so many things in common after all.

P.S BIG THANK YOU TO Nitsa Vasilaki (from the Travlos school) for her valuable help!


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