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Thessaloniki to host Odessa Classics International Music Festival


Photo: Odessa Classics, Odessa, 2021

Earlier we reported that the 8th International Music Festival Odessa Classics will be held in Tallinn, in Tartu, at the Arvo Pärt Center in Laulasmaa. The pre-festival events will be hosted from May 31 to June 4, by local organisations.

“As the Russian invasion of Ukraine made it impossible to perform in Odessa this year, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni immediately responded to the proposal of the festival’s artistic director, Alexey Botvinov, for the Culture Ministry to hold the main events in Thessaloniki,” the Culture and Sports Ministry pointed out in a relevant announcement.

The decision of the Minister of Culture and Sports to finance the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki to organise the Odessa Classics festival is proof of the cultural solidarity of Greece with the Ukrainian people and especially with the city of Odessa, which has deep historical roots with Greece.

In a letter to Mendoni, Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and Information, Oleksandr Tkachenko, thanked Greece for its support and solidarity “to all Ukrainians during these difficult times of the unprovoked Russian War against peaceful Ukraine.”

In her response to her Ukrainian colleague, Lina Mendoni notes:

“The Russian invasion was not only aimed at the Ukrainian state but also seriously limited citizens’ access to artistic creativity, which is the basis of freedom and prosperity. Since it became clear that organising a festival in Odessa this year had become impossible, the Greek government, through the Ministry of Culture and Sports, decided to offer a temporary “sanctuary” to your important art forum by hosting it in Thessaloniki. Odessa has always hosted the Greek intelligentsia and has been the matrix of the revival of the Greek nation. Two centuries later, when Ukraine fights for its freedom, Greece returns its hospitality in order to preserve one of its most important cultural treasures. The Odessa Classical Music Festival, “a European festival for a European city”, strengthens Odessa’s ties with Europe and Ukrainians’ expectations of a European future. Violence has never been able to defeat art in the history of mankind. We will not allow this today. I hope this is the first and last time the Odessa Festival is looking for a home somewhere else. We are looking forward to the restoration of peace to see the Odessa Classics 2023 festival in Odessa.”

Violinist and composer Simos Papanas, the concertmaster of the Thessaloniki State Orchestra, artistic consultant of the Odessa Classics festival and responsible for its organisation in Greece, invites the people of Thessaloniki to “let our esteemed guests feel the hospitality deeply rooted in us. We musicians are by nature against any kind of war. It’s time to prove it in practice!

The first part of the Odessa Classics festival events will take place in Estonia from May 31 to June 4, followed by concerts in Thessaloniki from June 9 to 13. Details of this program will be announced shortly.