The “Athens Conservatoire” (greek: Odeion Athinon) is the oldest educational institution for the performing arts in modern Greece, founded as a non-profit organization in 1871.
The institution played a significant role in the advancement of music studies in Greece since day one. Some of the most renowned Greek musical personalities internationally have graduated from the Athens Conservatoire including Spyros Samaras, Dimitiris Mitropoulos, Nikos Skalkottas, Maria Callas, Gina Bachauer, Alexandra Triantis, Mikis Theodorakis, Dimitris Sgouros, etc., as well as many members of the Athens State Orchestra, the National Theatre, the Athens Choir etc.
Meanwhile, the first Drama School in Greece, also founded in 1871, has had a pivotal role in the advancement of theatrical studies in the country and many prominent theatre personalities were included among its teaching staff, such as, Thomas Oikonomou, Emilios Veakis, Dimitris Rontiris, Kostas Mousouris, Dimitris Murat and others.
Today, apart from continuing to offer to its c.700 music students the full range of classical music studies, from the earliest stages to the concert diploma, the Athens Conservatoire is constantly expanding into new areas: the new Jazz Music Department, includes leading Greek jazz musicians among its teaching staff and has already gained significant momentum, the Centre of Early Music offers new insights into historically informed performance to a growing number of students, in collaboration with international institutions such as the Haute École de Musique of Geneva and the Festival of Ambronay in France, while various other specialized seminars in all disciplines continue to broaden its role in the contemporary musical scene.
The Drama School of the Athens Conservatoire, member of the World Theatre Education Alliance (WTEA) – Beijing, is included among the select few top drama schools in Greece, officially recognized by the Ministry of Culture. The school students and its staff regularly stage cutting edge performances and cooperate with leading drama schools abroad, like the Russian Academy of Theatrical Studies (GITIS).
The Athens Conservatoire School of Dance although established in the ‘00s, has been constantly expanding ever since and today features one of the few state-accredited Higher Professional Dance Schools in the country, complementing perfectly our portfolio of performing arts disciplines.
The Athens Conservatoire Centre for Research and Documentation, initially founded in 2015 to rescue from oblivion and decay the extensive AC historical archives, thanks to private funding is currently developing an extensive collective editorial project for a History of Music in Contemporary Greece (to appear on the occasion of the AC’s 150th jubilee year in 2021). The centre participates and contributes to international fora like the IAML (International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres), organizes various exhibitions and publishes scientific papers and a magazine.
Finally, other major arts organizations like, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, the Onassis Cultural Centre et al., regularly invite us to participate in leading cultural events.
The Athens Conservatoire’s premium location at the heart of Athens and its iconic “bauhaus” building, make it a unique and enviable cultural hub for various contemporary arts and cultural events.
The main building is a short walking distance from the National Garden of Athens, the Presidential Palace and the National Stadium, where the first contemporary Olympic Games took place, and near the Zappeion Megaron, where the European Greek Presidency took place in 2014.
The building is designed by the famous Greek architect Ioannis Despotopoulos (1903-1992) who holds a prominent position within the modernist architectural movement of the 1930s and the Bauhaus movement in which he actively participated. His work for the Athens Conservatoire is the only completed part of an ambitious large-scale cultural complex commissioned in 1959 by the then government for Athens, for which he earned the top architectural prize of its time.
During the last few years, thanks to generous private and public funding, the building is undergoing a process of gradual transformation and renovation and is well sought after by leading arts organizations. To name but a few highlights:
The NEON cultural organization undertook financially the renovation of a major space within the building, transforming it into an art exhibition space which hosted two innovative and very successful projects: Ideas City and Flying over the Abyss art exhibition.
Another significant milestone was the complete modernization and renovation of a chamber orchestra concert hall, called “Aris Garoufalis“, able to host smaller cultural events and gatherings and has already gained significant traction among event organizers, hosting international personalities like, for example, Alexandre Desplat.
As part of the same renovation project and close to this hall, another important space was also recently transformed into a contemporary theatrical “Black Box“, mainly used by the Drama School for educational purposes and its various stage needs.
Athens Conservatoire has been one of the “main partner venues” of the documenta 14 in Athens, the prestigious art exhibition which takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany, but it was also held in Athens as part of the artistic concept conceived for 2017 by its artistic director Adam Szymczyk. The exhibition was visited by more than 300.000 people from 54 countries and left a definite mark to the city of Athens. It also left a distinct impression with our staff and students who lived alongside this major art event for 100 days.
It has also been a great honour to lend our premises to El Sistema Greece, for the annual Sistema Europe Summer Residency and the rehearsals of the Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra (SEYO), for a great concert that took place at the mythical Odeon of Herodes Atticus theatre. The event brought together more than 250 young musicians and teachers from 16 countries that have implemented Sistema-inspired programmes for “social action through music”.
To name only one more of the many important art exhibitions held in our venues, in 2019, on the occasion of the celebrations for the 100 years of Bauhaus, we hosted an exhibition organised by the Goethe Institut, honouring Ioannis Despotopoulos, the architect of our building.
However, a much wider in scope publicly-funded construction works is well under way and will be completed by the end of 2021. In its final form, important new facilities will be added to the current building infrastructure, such as an underground amphitheatre with a 600-seating capacity, a multi-purpose experimental black-box stage of a 200-seating capacity, spaces for conferences, exhibitions and other events, studio suites for sound technology, as well as a shop and a restaurant.
The fully completed project is to be inaugurated in the framework of the 150th jubilee year of the Athens Conservatoire.
All our friends and visitors are welcome to visit our iconic building at the heart of downtown Athens and get to know the leading performing arts institute in Greece today.
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