Video: Greek Orchestra, in Tears, Plays its Last Concert

Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 06:54 PM

Greece's National Radio Orchestra and Chorus Greece's National Radio Orchestra and Chorus

When the Greek government last week closed the country’s public broadcasting network, ERT, and laid off all of its nearly 2,700 employees, among the casualties was the Greek National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

The closure was part of the cost-cutting measures demanded by Greece's international creditors. Along with the 75-year-old radio orchestra, the national contemporary music ensemble, founded in 1954, was also shuttered. On Friday, the orchestra released a video of what is said to be the group's final performance. Shot in a sweltering rehearsal room (the air conditioning had been turned off), it shows musicians, some teary-eyed, playing Elgar's stirring "Nimrod" from the Enigma Variations.

The video, which was posted Friday on Norman Lebrecht's Slipped Disc blog, has received more than 150,000 views.

Although the Greek government has said the broadcaster would resume some operations in a few months -- and legal challenges are also pending -- the fate of the music ensembles remains uncertain. Greece is in the third year of its worst financial crisis since World War II.


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Comments [9]

Alonso Garcia from Colombia, sudamerica

Thank you friends of the Greek National Symphony Orchestra, because what you can not mute the music, although I have heard from thousands of miles in Colombia South America, I do not speak or understand the Greek language, the language of music if we unites accompany them in their struggle and that these notes may continue to reach not only the beautiful village of Greece, but you all over the world, the art and music is an instrument of peace, love, thanks, go ahead, because that flame can not be extinguished, will continue to sound and listening. their musical notes

Jun. 23 2013 11:36 AM
Roberta from Long Island

Thank you for posting this news, tragic though it is. Perhaps a benefactor or two will read this and decide to come to their rescue.
I am reminded of the delightful film "Mediterraneo" in which Italian soldiers are stranded on a Greek island post WWII and soon take up various forms of art to occupy themselves. I am hopeful the strong Greek spirit and love for the arts will find a solution, and we will see the phoenix rise from the ashes!

Jun. 20 2013 04:08 PM
Victor Goodstone from Brooklyn, U.S.A.

As someone who has fortunately been in the trenches, with Classical Music for many years, because of the dad I had, and being exposed to it by P.S. 121 taking us to Philharmonic concerts at the Brooklyn Museum in the 1960's, the tears of the Greek Orchestra, will be shared by a number of American orchestras, as we go further up the road, unless there is a sea change in the cultural exposures many Americans have been getting of late! Not to demean any of our current cultural pleasures, but kids today are not being exposed to the repertoire, whether in many of the Public, and a lot of the Private schools, and you can bet that many parents, whether in single or dual households, especially those under the age of forty five, in the midst of very busy lives, when they get home are much more prone to put on American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, or the latest release by Adele, Rihanna, Public Enemy, Green Day, Linkin Park, or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, than Mahler's Eighth Symphony, performed by Barenboim and the Chicago, on their Stereo Receivers, if indeed, they have one?!!!

Jun. 18 2013 12:20 PM
Fred from Queens

@LES from Washington DC- And I don't like giving tax breaks (welfare) to oil companies, banks, hedge fund investors, etc. We build sports stadiums with tax dollars (hundreds of millions/stadium) and no real objections. It's no wonder that there's nothing left for the necessary and really important things.

The rules of the "marketplace" often don't apply to the business world; yet, the "free market" is expected to fund the arts, education, etc. It's really bizarre.

Marketplace pressures at the Met. have produced some execrable productions. Expensive ticket sales don't begin to cover costs for any of these organizations even if they sold every ticket every night.

As for wealthy donors- we see that certainly didn't work very well David Koch and PBS.

Jun. 17 2013 11:54 PM
LES from Washington DC

The closing of the GNSO raises important questions:

1. Which is a better -- the European model, where the people, through tax dollars, fund classical music. Or the American model, which relies on patrons and private money?

2. American broadcast companies don't broadcast classical music and opera anymore for obvious market-based reasons: no ratings, no advertisers, and no profit.

3. Which leads back to the question: Should the government be deciding what art to fund? If so, why classical music? Shouldn't the market place determine this question? Perhaps those interested in an art form that cannot pay for itself from ticket sales should be footing the bill, as under the American model.

Personally, I like classical music and would be okay allocating a portion of my taxes to it, if we had a system where one could actually choose. I also feel we as a country should aspire toward higher art forms. But I do understand those who don't want to subsidize my view of higher art.

Jun. 17 2013 04:34 PM
Beatrice Parides from NYC/

The "cradle of civilization" had fallen, folks.

Jun. 17 2013 02:56 PM

Why does WQXR allow Kenneth Bennett Lane to shamelessly promote himself across the website on almost every article?

Mr. Lane you are wearisome.

Jun. 17 2013 01:09 PM
Kathy of Aragon from Aragon

When people have such difficult lives and struggle, what could possible soothe them* except music?


Jun. 17 2013 10:33 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

It's sad. Terribly sad. Whereas many European orchestras and opera companies are state supported and subject to being hamstrung, our corporation-funded multi-nationals have long since dropped the ball. Witness the loss of The Ford Hour, The Bell Telephone Hour, The Voice of Firestone, the NBC Symphony broadcasts sponsored by Sony-Vacony (Sunoco) and GM, just to name the first that come to mind. Exxon, Raytheon and Texaco were "angels of the highest order" when it came to arts sponsorship, but where are they now? And when will our networks stop airing programs aimed at those with very young childrens' mentalities? And CBS won't air the Independence Day Concert with the Boston Symphony Orchestra anymore. How sad for Greece and how sad for us.

Jun. 17 2013 10:27 AM

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