Wednesday 07 December 2016
Lambis Vasileiadis and Andreas Xenopoulos Interview in Linto
Editor: Gogo Dimopoulou
G.D.: Mr. Vasileiadis, you are a professor at the Ionian University Music School. We are aware that the particular faculty does a great job. However, is there anything that could be improved? Is there anything in similar universities abroad we should feel jealous of?
Lambis Vasileiadis: Only in some respects. The particular faculty does an excellent job. In most respects, there is a comparable and very noteworthy curriculum. It is basic infrastructure that Greek universities - along with our own – generally lack, which in decades and with support by the state I hope will improve. We have been promised a new building. Greek music education suffers in general. In a few words, I believe that what a Greek University should offer a kind of equity – one could call it “social” or even “cultural” – so that the staple goods offered by Art are not a privilege of the few. On the other hand, regional universities with their public character offer a non-competitive spirit, a more humanitarian one.
There is a notion that the Ionian University does not teach music performance which is totally false. We try to make this clear in every way and in every opportunity. However, it seems that there is a part that is still unclear. So, along with music performance there is musicology, with all its relevant components (historical musicology, music therapy, music education, etc), as well as composition. The faculty is manned according to the latest demands but there is also a lack of staff. The already existent staff does its best to face the current challenges.
We boast important international cooperation and several successes. Also, in the piano field that I represent, as well as in performance, musicology and composition there is a very active post-graduate department. In the piano in particular, we collaborate with exceptional personalities that organize a two-round seminar annually. There is also an active collaboration via the Erasmus programmes.
I think that higher education and the abilities offered by the Ionian University will be made clear only when the infrastructure improves. This is verified by the relatively great turn out we enjoy in the field. I have been quite analytical but to my defense one of my great worries is that we are not often given the opportunity to present our work. Our presence in the city of Larisa via your venue and the respect you show to what we stand for are small tokens of appreciation.
G.D.: What is the most valuable advice you give to your students?
Lambis Vasileiadis: To follow their own, personal path. To be able to realize their dreams without being carried away by the times. Not to compromise their inner world due to threatening imperatives by unemployment and by the mystification of living abroad. I advise them to work and “fight” for their country and their dreams, within their country. Not to postpone the expression of their inner world. And when wondering “Where shall we work?” let the answer be “Where love leads you”. Love is a more general sense. Art is defined by the love element and of course those who really love what they are doing always find their way.
One should always pay more attention to what they have and not to what they would like to have, because happiness lies in making the best of what we already have. And to be able to realize ourselves within our own little world. To complete the journey the way one deserves it. I am really concerned that the Greek youth is being framed by what we call globalization which mystifies the world. Matters are neither simple nor is there an earth-existing heaven. Happiness is not where you are not; it is where you are. That’s a life bet.
G.D.: You have performed in recitals in Greece and in many countries abroad and you have appeared in several important orchestras. Which do think is the most important moment in your career so far?
Lambis Vasileiadis: On a commercial aspect I could refer to several symphony orchestras that I have worked with such as those of Prague, London, Prague Radio, Poland and Bangkok. But such reference would be too much for my status. The symphony orchestras were happy occasions and incidents showing approval by colleagues and institutions. I consider London symphony a crowning moment that justifies my presence at the Ionian University. However, I would not determine success by the number of concerts. It is work that counts more- it of courses lists a number of appearances but quantitive characteristics should not matter. The question “What is it that defines an artist’s magnitude?” the answer ought to be “his love for music”.
G.D.: Andreas, despite your young age you have achieved great accomplishments. What are your future goals?
Andreas Xenopoulos: Since I have decided to return to Greece my goal is to be able to set up a space where I can make my dream come true. In other words, to be able to make music in a genuine level, avoiding wasting my energy on daily routine and all the adversities that Greece faces, which are creative at times but won’t rest from disorienting you from your goal. So what I am dreaming of achieving is a place where I can be involved with music and evolve through it.
G.D: Piano Plus Festival was established in 2008. How did you come up with this, how would you like to see it evolve through time and what has the audience’s response been so far?
Andreas Xenopoulos: Piano Plus starts looking like a life’s work. I set it up in 2008 along with a group of university mates and with the help of professors of the Ionian University as well of some from the Secondary Education Level who were old friends of mine and also instructors. It began as a festival in Athens that aimed at giving the opportunity to new artists- including ourselves- to artistically exist in Athens. Years later Piano Plus has evolved into a group of people who continue to be supported by the Ionian University mostly as well as its students and to be given a chance to perform not only in Athens but also in the rest of Greece as well as abroad. There are festivals in Germany that we cooperate with. We would like some time in the future for the festival to have its own venue that will also function as a cultural focus. Of course, our goal has always been to help young musicians.
G.D.: You have completed your music studies at the Music School of the Ionian University next to Mr. Lambis Vasileiadis. How has that influenced you?
Andreas Xenopoulos: I met Mr. Vasileiadis when I entered the Ionian University. He is a man that I have come very close with because he loves what he does. He has helped me realize that I also love music very much. He has helped me organize my studying. He showed me the way for my later studies. It is very hard for a person to find their way in music studies in Greece. It was our common course that lead me abroad. Due to his advice I completed my Masters Degree and my PhD in the US. Now he is my mentor, a very good friend and a colleague.