Symi FestivalSymi Festival 2007Symi Festival 2007: Looking Back

It‘s been about a month since the “official” end of the 2007 Symi Festival. However, the Festival really ended a couple of weeks earlier than planned as Greece was devastated by forest fires which claimed the life of about 60 people in the south of Greece. As a sign of respect towards those affected, most concerts and other Festival performances across the country were either cancelled or postponed.

At the same time, the Government had called a snap general election for the middle of September; as a result national politics dominated peoples’ discussions and media coverage. It would be a shame, however, to “forget” this year’s Symi Festival despite its sudden silent end.

It’s been the first Symi Festival without Yiannis Diakoyiannis, its founder and instigator, who passed away last year and to whose memory the 2007 festivities were dedicated.

This year’s Premiere was reserved for a concert with the leading Greek composer Thanos Mikroutsikos, accompanied by the singers Manolis Mitsias, Giannis Koutras and Rita Antonopoulou. It was one of the most memorable opening nights for the Festival, a treat to the hundreds of people who packed the central square in Yialos and the surrounding area. Rock sounds, drums, electrical guitar but also traditional bouzouki, wonderful lyrics and powerful performances. SymiGreece covered the Premiere live and provided the only comprehensive review which also included more than 30 minutes of live video footage.

The Festival programme included a number of theatrical performances, presented mainly by local acting groups, a painting exhibition and book reviews; however the main feature, as in most years, was the unique sound of all kinds of Greek music. Popular rembetika tunes by the group “Ta Mourmourakia”, rock music with superb lyrics performed by “Domenica”, modern pop with a traditional twist by “Makrina Ksaderfia” (one of the most memorable performances of this year’s programme), and also well-known popular singers such as Orfeas Peridis, Vagelis Germanos, Litsa Diamanti and Pitsa Papadopoulou.

There was Greek dancing at least once a week and almost always performed in front of a packed central square audience down in Yialos. It included Greek Demotic and more recent traditional dancing by the Women’s Association of Symi displaying some of their superb costumes, as well as other local and invited dance groups including popular and modern Greek dancing by Irene Milonaki’s dance group of local Symiots which was amongst the most well-attended performances in Yialos Square.

As every year, the main performances in the central square in Yialos were accompanied by those at St John’s Yard with its unique romantic atmosphere and dramatic backdrop of St John’s Bell Tower and Cathedral. Dimitris Nikoloudis’s excellent concert and piano and guitar recitals were on offer during July and August.

SymiGreece is proud to have been the only website (in Symi or elsewhere) to have a dedicated section for the Symi Festival covering most performances with photo galleries, extensive video footage, reviews and live coverage. Next year we aim to do a lot more and will provide an even better and fuller coverage of the Symi Festival. We are currently looking into a number of possibilities and there will be many surprises to come next year!

Unfortunately, this year’s Festival was brushed aside as a minor incident by the only English speaking paper on the island. As in every other year the only reference to the biggest event in the Symi calendar came from an eccentric English ex-pat resident of Symi, Mr Hugo Tyler, who has a habit of patronising and looking down at the locals. Mr Tyler decided that he didn’t like most of the performances, he found them “not very satisfactory” and he “failed to be impressed”. Of course everyone is free to express their personal view but when this view becomes the main view of a paper and damages Symi and its Festival, then we feel a duty to speak out. In his poor “review” of the Festival Mr Tyler had a go at “the Symiots” and their “behaviour” as they were not quiet enough for his liking during the performances. His final words on this year’s Festival were “All I can say to the Symiots is ‘You don’t deserve your Festival. Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!’”.

The only response to these outrageously patronising and offensive words is “Hugo Tyler, you don’t deserve Symi. Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!”

Symi deserves a much better English-speaking publication than a self-promoting, business-oriented village rag written by patronising ex-pats that shame Symi.

We, at SymiGreece are passionate about Symi, its promotion and well-being and the Symi Festival deserves all the support it can get as one of the top cultural events in the whole of Greece.

Και του χρόνου!

Christos Byron

Updated 18/10/2007, 00:49 // 2649 hits