Cyprus Mail

A cultural festival takes a bow for another year

The 20th Cultural Festival of the University of Cyprus will come to a close with two final concerts on Saturday and Monday.

This year, the multicultural festival brought us a range of music and theatre, all at the cultural centre of the university which is also known as Axiothea. Helping to celebrate 20 years of providing Nicosia with a festival that fills September and October with an array of cultural events that educate, amaze and entertain us will be the Ioannou/Vafeas jazz band, followed for a final musical concert by the Cretan artist Psarantonis.

The Ioannou/Vafeas jazz band – who are saxophonist Charis Ioannou, Ioannis Vafeas on drums, Dimitris Miaris on the piano and Greg Makamian on double bass – will perform songs from their album Bridge of Locks. The album is the result of the musical exploration of two long-time friends and collaborators, Ioannou and Vafeas. It includes pieces composed by the American saxophonist and composer Chris Byars, one original composition by Ioannou, and one jazz standard.

The Ioannou/Vafeas jazz group was created in 2016 after many years of collaboration and friendship between the two artists, who both perform regularly at festivals and concert halls all over Europe. They have worked together a number of times on CDs, recordings and theatre productions.

They are both graduates of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and they each hold a Master’s Degree in Jazz Music. They are also members of the faculty of the Department of Music in the University of Nicosia.

Makamian has played with great musicians such as Chris Byars, Pasquale Grasso, Zaid Nasser, Pete and Will Anderson, Keith Balla, Phil Stewart, Ofer Landsberg, Stefano Doglioni, John Mosca, Charis Ioannou, Ioannis Vafeas, Marios Toumbas and many others.

Recently, the bassist performed with the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra and the Charis Ioannou Group, presenting the music of Charlie Parker in ‘Bird with Strings’.

Miaris started playing classical piano from the age of six and by 16 he had his first connection with jazz through the Jazz Futures workshops in Nicosia. Since then he has performed in Cyprus and Greece and has received his Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Piano from the Ionian University’s Jazz Programme. Over the past two years he has participated in Dr Barry Harris’ workshops in Rome.

The final event of the festival will be on Monday when the Cretan artist, composer and singer Psarantonis – whose real name is Antonis Xylouris – will return once more to Axiothea for a concert featuring some of his best work. Accompanied by his children Niki and Lambis, as well as the talented instrumentalist Giannis Paximadakis, Psarantonis will end the festival on a Greek traditional note.

The Xylouris family is famous for its contribution to the Greek music scene. Psarantonis is famous for playing the lyra, as well as the special timbre of his voice. In May 2005, he performed at the World Music Institute’s 20th anniversary benefit concert at Town Hall, New York. He also took part in the festival Rock All Tomororow’s Parties in Minehead, UK, in 2007 and in 2009 he gave memorable performances at the rock festival of the same name hosted in Brisbane, Sydney and Mount Buller.

Ioannou/Vafeas Quartet
Live performance by the quartet. October 14. Cultural Centre of the University of Cyprus, Manor House on Axiotheas Street, Nicosia. 8.30pm. €5/10

Live performance by the Cretan artist. October 16. Cultural Centre of the University of Cyprus, Manor House on Axiotheas Street, Nicosia. 8.30pm. €5/10

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