The Ritsos Project is a fine arts festival established in 2014 that seeks to engage meaningfully with local communities by staging a series of free music recitals, collaborative performances, and outreach and education events. The festival takes its name from the famed poet and social activist Yiannis Ritsos, a long time resident of Karlovasi, Samos Island. In celebrating Ritsos’s artistic legacy, The Ritsos Project seeks to provide greater access to live classical music. The annual festival in Karlovasi, Samos, serves as a spring-board for the creation of new works of art by uniting artists from all disciplines to work together. Since its founding, The Ritsos Project ensemble has performed throughout Greece and the USA.
We believe in enhancing access to live performance, investing in education, and in exciting and diverse music programming. We also believe in the importance of cross-disciplinary collaboration for the creation of vibrant art.
In 2013, composer Aristea Mellos visited the Aegean island of Samos, from which her grandmother’s family hails. During this visit, a conversation with some artists in the village of Manolates revealed that it was difficult for the residents of Samos to access live classical music. Upon returning to the Eastman School, Aristea, with the help of her colleague Theocharis Papatrechas began planning The Ritsos Project: a festival of art, poetry, and music, that would bring young musicians to Samos. Working alongside Donoussa Theatre founder, Anastasia Andreadis, the festival began to take shape, and on July 1, 2014, a team of Eastman students and alum landed in Athens for the first inaugural Ritsos Project.
In 2014, the festival featured ten new art song compositions that were premiered in Athens at the National Library of Greece, The Megaron. The festival then traveled to Samos where an exhibition of local art was held in conjunction with a free recital series, and a second theatrical presentation of the commissioned art songs was performed in Karlovasi for a packed house.
In 2015, musicians from The Eastman School of Music returned to Samos for a series of events including a week of recitals, an outreach workshop and concert with students and teachers of the Pythagoras Music School, and the staging of a production of Ritsos’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ with actors from Donoussa Theatre.
In 2016, the festival featured a collaboration with the photographer Chrysostomos Galathris and guest poet and Ritsos scholar, Özdemir İnce. Performances took place at the Vryssaki Art Space, Athens, Kent State University, Ohio, the Eastman School of Music, the Summit Arts Academy of Canton, and the Karlovasi Town Hall.
The Ritsos Project is proudly supported by the Presser Foundation, the Earle Brown Foundation, the Eastman School of Music, Albert Augustine Strings, the Karlovasi Chamber of Commerce & the Council of Vathi, Samos.
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