Recognised as one of Europe’s preeminent music festivals and acknowledged all over the world as Cyprus’ most important annual classical music event, the International Pharos Chamber Festival has steadily and solidly gained an unequalled reputation for the quality of its concerts as well as its enchanting atmosphere and settings. Inaugurated in 2001, the Festival has placed Cyprus on the international cultural map: it was the first festival of chamber music to have been established in Cyprus, it has so far organised over 150 unique concerts with some of the world’s leading soloists, chamber ensembles and orchestras, and it has created a special relationship with a wide audience from all over the globe, who visit the island especially to be part of this exceptionally uplifting music experience. The Festival also maintains a strong tradition of community service, making chamber music accessible for the first time to children in the surrounding rural communities.
The greatest part of the Festival takes place at the Royal Manor House in Kouklia – one of the finest surviving monuments of Frankish architecture in Cyprus and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Site of the famous sanctuary of Aphrodite, Kouklia was a city-kingdom of Cyprus and one of the most celebrated pilgrimage centres of the ancient Greek world.
Organised between 14 May and 6 June 2019, the 19th International Pharos Chamber Music Festival welcomed to Cyprus some of the most remarkable artists on the international music scene.
The Festival opened on Tuesday 14 May 2019 at the Pharos Arts Foundation’s recital venue, The Shoe Factory, in Nicosia with a concert by the renowned Belgian ensemble Het Collectief and the celebrated soprano Katrien Baerts, who has been described as “Breathtaking” and “astoundingly beautiful” (Place de l’ Opera), with “a voice and interpretation that are nothing less than a revelation” (Trouw) and “hair-raising feats of vocal agility” (The Telegraph). Their programme consisted of an amazing blend of French chamber and vocal repertoire by Ravel, Debussy, Dutilleux and Philippe Gaubert interspersed with pieces by the Finnish Kaija Saariaho who is one of the foremost composers on the planet and one of the leading creative figures of her generation.
For its second concert at The Shoe Factory, on Wednesday 22 May 2019, the 19th International Pharos Chamber Music Festival collaborated once again with the Keyboard Charitable Trust in London, to present for the first time in Cyprus pianist Jiyeong Mun – one of the most exciting young musicians of our times and First Prize winner of the Geneva International Competition in 2014 and the Busoni International Competition 2015. Described as treading on the path of the great Martha Argerich, Jiyeong Mun delivered a formidable programme of works by Beethoven, Ravel and Chopin.
As always, the highlight of the International Pharos Chamber Music Festival was the series of chamber concerts at the Royal Manor House in Kouklia – one of the finest surviving monuments of Frankish architecture in Cyprus and a UNESCO World Heritage site. This year, the Festival encompassed four concerts, from Saturday 1 until Tuesday 4 June 2019, with some of the world’s most celebrated and finest soloists: amongst them, Alexander Ghindin – unanimously acclaimed by critics and music lovers as one of the most charismatic and original pianists of our times and winner in such prestigious competitions as the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (the youngest ever laureate), the International Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition in Brussels, and the Cleveland International Piano Competition; the sensational violinist Christel Lee – First-prize winner of the 2015 International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition in Helsinki; violinists Anna Tifu and Doriane Gable as well as pianist Olga Zado – considered amongst the leading female musicians of their generation; the return visits of the remarkable Lars Anders Tomter (described as the “Giant of the Nordic Viola”), and pianist Ashley Wass (described by Gramophone as “a thoroughbred who possesses the enviable gift to turn almost anything he plays into pure gold”), violist David Abrahamyan and cellist Alexander Chaushian. The Festival also welcomed the wonderful Cypriot soprano Zoe Nicolaidou.
The 19th International Pharos Chamber Music Festival concluded at the magical open-air venue, The Olive Grove, in Delikipos. For its final concert, on Thursday 6 June 2019, the Festival invited the brilliant Cyprus Youth Symphony Orchestra to team up with soloists Anna Tifu (violin), Christel Lee (violin) and Ashley Wass (piano), under the direction of conductor Yiorgos Kountouris. Surrounded by the idyllic forest of Delikipos, in an exceptional atmosphere and landscape, the audience indulged in an impressive programme that included works by Mendelssohn, Sarasate and Vitali.
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