In 2014 the Apollon International Chamber Music Festival took place for the first time. And its aim at the time, according to festival director Saskia Constantinou, was “to foster a greater appreciation of classical music in the Mediterranean region by presenting performances by world-class artists while emphasising the development of a broad-based, sustainable audience through education.” Two years later, and the festival – while continuously striving to move forward – has changed its modus operandi to incorporate a number of musical genres, and is now known as the Apollon International Arts Festival.
Taking place from October 26 to 30, the festival now “encompasses chamber music, and jazz/classic-rock music,” explains Saskia. “Our mission however, remains the same – to foster a greater appreciation of various forms of culture in the Mediterranean region by presenting festivals and performances featuring world-class artists in beautiful surroundings, while emphasising the development of a broad based, sustainable audience through education.”
What this means, she clarifies, is four evenings of accessible and relaxing music in two wonderful venues: The Annabelle Hotel in Paphos from October 26 to 29, and then the Melina Mercouri Hall in Nicosia on October 30 for a final performance in a concert series that will appeal to both locals and visitors alike.
“The main venue, The Annabelle, is situated on the coastline, so it’s interesting and attractive to an international audience,” says Saskia. “And with this we’re striving for a more informal atmosphere to the festival; more relaxed than, say, a concert hall. Musicians will be performing in the ballroom of the hotel, which not only has excellent acoustics but also transforms perfectly into an intimate setting, with a raised stage surrounded by circular seating. At the same time, we’ve deliberately kept the length of the festival short: unlike many of the larger European festivals, guests can easily attend three or four evenings and enjoy the quality programming from our world-class musicians.”
Speaking of the performers themselves, Saskia explains that these are “top musicians who perform all around the globe, and who come to Cyprus especially to be able to offer their music to the discerning audiences on the island. Obviously I’m in touch with the international cultural scene,” she asserts, “and as the Apollon International Festival becomes more widely known, we’re often engaging with emerging artists and even receive requests from those who wish to perform. There’s definitely an interest in appearing in Cyprus, in terms of both culture and music, and we’re a great deal further on than we were five or ten years ago.”
With an artistic line up of “young, engaging and communicative musicians”, the festival promises such rising stars as violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen (who has played with the Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and BBC orchestras among others), cellist Guy Johnston (Professor of Cello at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year award in 2000), flautist Virginie Bove (Instructor of Classical Flute at the University of Nicosia, and former principal flute in the Sorbonne Orchestra of Paris) and pianist Charles Own (Professor of Piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, and recognised as one of the finest British pianists of his generation).
In terms of programming, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Faure, Poulenc, Franck, Dohnanyi and Dvorak will all be on the musical menu. “It’s a combination of music,” says Saskia, “with the emphasis on accessibility. People want to listen to things that are easy, that they can relax to; they want to enjoy a social occasion, and this will appeal to a large number of people. Plus, our final evening is with the PapaGeorgio Quartet and vocalist Sarah Fenwick” – Cyprus’ very own smoky-toned legend of jazz – “in a programme of classic rock and jazz, which will then be repeated in Nicosia at the Melina Mercouri Hall.
“With the 3rd International Apollon Arts Festival, we’re looking at five days of exciting, accessible, intimate music,” Saskia concludes. “A series of concerts which make classical music attractive while simultaneously presenting chamber music of the highest quality to the discerning listener, and including an evening of classic rock in an effort to appeal to a greater and wider audience. And it will give audiences the opportunity to feel they are sharing an evening of music together – where everyone is comfortable and relaxed.”
3rd Apollon International Arts Festival
October 26 to 30 in Paphos (The Annabelle) and Nicosia (Melina Mercouri Hall). Tickets cost €15 (€10 students and children) and are available from www.tickethour.com.cy. Reservations can be made by calling 99 722031. For more information visit www.apollonconnections.com