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The Ritsos ProjectRochester, NY
In 2013, the composer Aristea Mellos visited the Aegean island of Samos, from which her grandmother’s family hails. During this visit, a conversation with some artists in the small village of Manolates revealed that it was difficult for the residents of Samos to access live classical music. Upon returning to the Eastman School in the fall of 2013 to commence her doctoral studies, Aristea, with the help of her colleague Theocharis Papatrechas began planning The Ritsos Project: a festival of the fine arts, that would bring young American musicians to Samos to collaborate with Greek artists, and to create a culture of musical access. Working alongside Donoussa Theatre founder, Anastasia Andreadis, the festival began to take shape, and on July 1, 2014, a team of Eastman School of Music students and alum landed in Athens for the first inaugural Ritsos Project.
The Ritsos Project has been held over two consecutive years in Karlovasi, Samos. It has worked with over 10 visual artists, has staged productions with the Donoussa Theatre Company, and has established an outreach and education program involving children from the local Pythagorios Music School Choir. It has received support from The Presser Foundation, The Eastman School, Albert Augustine Strings, The Karlovasi Chamber of Commerce, The Municipality of Samos, and from various independent businesses operating on Samos Island. In 2015, The Ritsos Project was featured as a must-see cultural event in the Aegean Airlines Summer Issue In-Flight Magazine, and is closely followed by local media in Greece.
2016 projects include a performance and lecture in February at The Eastman School, the 2016 festival in Athens & Karlovasi Samos in July, and a residency at Kent State, Ohio in October.