Greek composer sets tone for cultural exchange – Greek City Times
Strolling through the galleries of the Zappeion, an emblematic building in Athens built for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, Eugenia Manolidou, composer, conductor and Greek classical music pedagogue, “listens” to what the monuments have to say for transmit to him the teachings of the students.
She says a solid knowledge of the past and strong connections to cultural heritage make people stronger, enabling them to face the future, recognize the beauty of different cultures and realize the power of collaboration, citing the example of Sino-Greek friendship and cooperation.
“Culture combined with education can bring people together, build bridges and break down walls. Only by studying hard can one appreciate the beauty of different cultures,” she adds.
Artist and pedagogue, Manolidou has contributed in recent years to the collaboration between Greece and China through cultural exchanges.
In 2008, when Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics, she was invited to give a concert at the Beijing Concert Hall. She conducted the China National Opera and Dance Drama Theater Symphony Orchestra and Choir, presenting her work titled Two Cultures, One Spirit.
It was his first contact with China and Chinese culture. To create a work corresponding to the spirit of the Games and the two ancient civilizations, she conducted extensive research on the philosophy, music and mentality of the Chinese people.
“I felt a deep obligation to serve two of the oldest civilizations in the world. So I combined what I knew best, symphonic music, with the pipa, a four-string plucked lute, one of the most elegant instruments in traditional Chinese music,” recalls Manolidou.
She composed a concerto for pipa and symphony orchestra.
“We told a fairy tale that brought the two peoples together,” she says.
“Besides their welcoming applause, the audience that day made me realize that they knew that two civilizations – despite the distance that separates them – are united in their values, their philosophy and their beautiful past.”
Manolidou is also responsible for studies at Elliniki Agogi (Hellenic Education), a private school based in Athens that teaches the language, history and philosophy of ancient Greece to children and adults. At school, she focuses on children, as she did during a Greek-Chinese cultural exchange event in November.
On the eve of the 2022 Winter Olympics, students from Elliniki Agogi and Beijing Academy in the Chinese capital met via video link. They recited excerpts from the works of ancient Greek and Chinese philosophers in the original languages. By building a bridge through philosophy, they reminded the world of the common values and ideas of the two civilizations and the teachings on virtue, work, friendship, truth, bravery, freedom and happiness.
“We only win by learning about other cultures. We learn by sharing, talking, discussing and exchanging ideas, values, dreams and visions. The past is there to teach us. If we learn, if we know, if we respect the past, then we can bring all that knowledge into the future,” says Manolidou.
Greece and China, cradles of civilizations, are also pioneers in exploration, and the world has much to benefit from their interaction. ” Together we are stronger. We have a lot more opportunities, a lot more chances to achieve what we want in the future.