Greeks Looking Forward to Belgian World Music Project at Cultural Olympiad 

Brussels, Belgium – On June 23 and 24 an
international orchestra of renowned artists conducted by the Belgian musician,
Wouter Vandenabeele, will pay homage to the Greek composer, Manos Hadjidakis.
This concert, organized in the context of the Cultural Olympiad 2004, is one of
the eye-catchers of this summer’s events in Athens. It will be held at the
Merlina Mercouri Theatre in Athens, Greece.

The Cultural Olympiad was set up in association with
UNESCO and the Games to further propagate the Olympic philosophy by means of
artistic programs uniting different cultures. For the Greeks and some specialist
music lovers all over the world, the composer Manos Hadjidakis is still a
monument, but his music has mainly been a well-kept secret. The World and
Manos Hadjidakis
will be a unique project and will bring together 28
musicians from all over the world to interpret, with their own cultural
background, in their own language, with their own lyrics, the music of Manos
Hadjidakis. Out of 1,343 songs, 28 were chosen to be adapted to this giant
project by the musicians and singers. This story led the musical director Wouter
Vandenabeele to meet numerous singers and musicians in Japan, China, Australia,
South Africa and nearly all European countries.  

The orchestra is based on the Belgian band Olla Vogala
(meaning “all the birds”), featuring Belgium’s best soloists in jazz, world and
folk music. But they also have some special guests: bamboo flute from China,
percussion from Japan, kanun from Iran, kora from Guinea, erhu from China and
didjeridu (or didgeridoo) from the aboriginal population of Australia. The
colors of the world are united on stage to present to the audience the way they
hear Manos Hadjidakis.  

In the meantime the Greek press and public keep up with
the preparations. On Tuesday June 8 Wouter Vandenabeele and Jo Van Driessche
were invited to a press conference by the Greek Prime Minister, Kostas
Karamanlis. The National Broadcast Company of Greece, ERT, is making a
documentary. A live recording by the company Sirius will be released in August. 

The World and Manos Hadjidakis with Olla Vogala
directed by Wouter Vandenabeele, Guo Yue – flute (China), Dong Jinming -erhu
– percussion (Japan), Matthew Doyle -didgeridoo (Australia),

N’Faly Kouyate
– kora (Guinea); Teresa Salgueiro (Portugal), Catherine
Delasalle (France),  Faith Kekana,  Khululiwe Sithole, Stella Khumalo (South
Africa), Kari Bremnes (Norway), Beata Palya (Hungary), and Eva De Roovere

[All photos © Hans Roels. Photo 1: Wouter Vandenabee
(left) and Bea Palya (right). Photo 2: Teresa Salgueiro. Photo 3: Dong Jinming].