Boston Pops Orchestra

Leadership 100 members George and Caterina Sakellaris of Milton, MA underwrote a first-ever “Pops Goes Hellenic” fundraising concert at Symphony Hall in Boston, Saturday, June  7, to benefit St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church  in Braintree, MA, which opened its new 9,200-square-foot Byzantine-style church in March. The ”Pops Goes Hellenic” concert was the first time in North America that a world-class symphony orchestra performed an entirely Hellenic program. “It was a historic event,” said the Rev. Father Alkiviadis Calivas of St. Catherine’s. “It’s remarkable, unique and something that has never happened before.”

Concertgoers heard contemporary Greek music and performances from international singing sensation Haris Alexiou and up-and-coming soprano Anastasia Malliaris. Led by conductor Keith Lockhart, the Boston Pops Orchestra performed an all-Hellenic program.

Elia, a newly formed group from the United States and Greece that is dedicated to preserving Greek culture, produced the fundraiser. In Greek, Elia means olive, a symbol of Greek culture. “Because we are so assimilated in American culture, if we are not the keepers of our faith and heritage, in 50 years it will be gone,” said Cathy Sakellaris. “If you think big, big things will happen.”

The evening opened with a video featuring Greeks from around the world, speaking about heritage, culture and philanthropy. Among those included were Cumberland Farms CEO & Chairman Lily H. Bentas, Sam Kounaves, head of the Tufts Mars Project, Underwater Archeologist Dr. Brendan Foley, and Christine Kondoleon, the George D. and Margo Behrakis Senior Curator of Greek and Roman Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The first half of the “Pops Goes Hellenic” concert was dedicated to orchestral music by contemporary Greek composers such as Manos Hatzidakis, Mikis Theodorakis, Stavros Xarhajos, Vangelis Papathanasiou, and others. The second half of the concert was solely dedicated to international singing sensation Haris Alexiou, who performed with the Boston Pops and a smaller group of Greek musicians playing traditional Greek instruments. Haris Alexiou first appeared in the Greek musical scene in the early ‘70s. Her charismatic voice, combined with a unique way of performing and a strong presence, led her to the top, where she remains today. 

Special concert guests included noted cookbook author Diane Kochilas; Archbishop Demetrios of America, the head of the U.S. Greek Orthodox Church; Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, in charge of the church locally; Ambassador Andreas Kakouris, Cyprus’s U.S. ambassador; Ambassador Alexandros Mallias, the Greek Ambassador to the United States; Sen. John Kerry; and U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Lowell, whose late husband, Sen. Paul Tsongas, was of Greek descent.

Many other members of Leadership 100 supported the event by serving on the National Committee. They included Arthur C. and Madeline K. Anton, George D. & Margo Behrakis, Nicholas J. Bouras, John & Mae Calamos, John A. & Margo C. Catsimatidis, Leo P. & Evanthea N. Condakes, Ike & Fanoula Gulas, Michael & Mary Jaharis, Peter T. & Helen Kikis, Dr. Anthony J. & Dr. Maria A. Limberakis, John A. & Marisa Payiavlas, Chris & Georgia Skeadas, Alexander G. & Faye Spanos, Angelo K. & Sofia Tsakopoulos and Stephen G. & Thelma S. Yeonas.

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