Given that every CULTURESCOPE episode comes packed with goodies, each standalone segment merits revisiting.
In this video, taken from Season 1, Episode 9 of CULTURESCOPE, host of the popular web series Paul Lambis interviews Dr. Yiorgos Kountouris, artistic director and conductor of the Cyprus Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO), as well as Cyprus Symphony Orchestra (CSO) board vice-president Savvas Savva.
Also featured are Gareth Griffiths and Natasa Hadjiandreou, respectively CYSO brass, and percussion, ensemble instructors, as well as CYSO managing officer, Antigoni Antoniou.
A graduate of St. Petersburg’s State Conservatory, Dr. Kountouris has conducted numerous orchestras in Europe, the US and Russia, yet observes that leading the island’s young, amateur musicians initially posed a unique challenge.
“With youth, you have to teach everything from zero,” he chuckles.
Ranked among Europe’s top youth orchestras, the CYSO was born as part of a push, three decades ago, to support symphonic music on the island, the maestro explains. Today, the initiative has deepened with the establishment of an academy within the State Cyprus Symphony Orchestra and junior ensembles, as well as ongoing development of the CYSO.
“That way, we also understood that our role is to set the standards and to set an example for all other music institutions in Cyprus, and to provide the frames that would welcome not only the children that enrolled themselves in our academy, but also in other state- or non-state programmes,” says Dr. Kountouris.
“Cyprus Youth Symphony Orchestra is, indeed, the leading music education organisation of the country,” he continues, “and perhaps the only cultural institution in Cyprus that enjoys full attendance in all its activities and its concerts.
“People come to see not just their children, their grandsons, or their relatives, they come to see how these children can play Beethoven’s fifth, or how they can play an opera, or how they can play Stravinsky.”
Also, the fact that the CYSO, pre-pandemic, would travel abroad regularly to perform overseas, including giving a yearly concert in Vienna, has helped make the ensemble very popular, while giving audiences a chance to enjoy their music, he adds.
For his part, Savva notes that it is very important for young people to be involved with the arts, and not merely good “knowledge-carriers”.
“There are many opportunities to learn music or drama privately,” he points out, “but such lessons are too expensive for the average individual.”
It is, thus, of utmost importance for the island’s educational authorities to reinstitute the arts into national curricula, “to inspire students to become better citizens”, he argues.
“The arts provide education, they create well-rounded individuals who are more humane, who love nature, who love animals, who love life… This is what arts education offers – it makes us better people.
“The Cyprus Youth Symphony Orchestra serves this purpose,” continues Savva, but more must be done, which is why the arts must be embedded into all public schools’ curricula.
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Produced by Silver Thespian Ltd.
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View the original video here.
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