Socially Aware Artistic Ensembles
13 January 2021

For five years, the Greek National Opera (GNO)’s Educational & Social Activities, launched through a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), have offered a rich program of artistic and participatory learning activities for kids, teenagers, schools, adults, seniors, amateur and professional artists from Athens and across Greece, and people with sensory and motor disabilities.

It is in this context that the GNO’s amateur Intercultural Art Ensembles, a choir and an orchestra, were created. They’ve shown undeniable social impact and have seen a significant response in participation by more than 600 refugees and immigrants. The Intercultural Choir, which is five years old, and the Intercultural Orchestra, now in its third year, aim to use music as a vehicle to enhance social inclusion and foster communication and interaction. Through musical expression, these two ensembles aim to open a multicultural dialogue, form a framework for exchange and co-creation, give hope, and highlight the different cultures and musical heritage of their members.

The Intercultural Choir has over 25 members. From Athens to Papua New Guinea, from Kenya to the Ukraine, and from Slovakia to Tanzania, people from all over the world join their voices, become one, and sing songs that speak directly to the heart. Its repertoire comprises traditional music from the members’ countries of origin, as well as Greek melodies, and is constantly enriched with new material. The choir performs concerts at the GNO and beyond.

The Intercultural Orchestra consists of about 35 musicians, permanent or temporary residents of Athens, professionals and amateurs, from Greece, Turkey, Syria, Sudan, Italy, Cyprus, Iran, France, and Portugal. Featuring an equally multinational repertoire, from original compositions by its members to the musical traditions of their countries of origin, the orchestra has made many appearances in Athens and has formed collaborations with renowned artists.

During the pandemic, the GNO’s Educational & Social Activities promptly went remote as part of the #HomeEdition program. Using digital tools, members of the orchestra and the choir, and the two ensemble directors, were able to remain in contact with the music and each other, with beautiful results.

Mily Paschali
SNF Artistic Director