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Stefanos Karabekos

STEFANOS KARABEKOS was born in the village of Kranea, near Karditsa, Thessalia, Greece in 1942. He was always interested in a career in the field of music, but his father insisted that he train for a different profession. "To be a musician in Greece was not such a high level profession at that time," explains Karabekos. "He wanted me to be a doctor or something."

After high school he earned a diploma in Political Economy in Greece, then in 1973 he entered York University in Toronto to study for a master's degree. But during all those years he continued his musical training, first at the Conservatory of Piraeus, Greece, then at Toronto's Royal Conservatory. In 1975, he switched his studies at York to his major interest, and graduated in 1978 with an Honours B.A. in Music. He studied composition for cinema, radio and television with Louis Applebaum.

In a 1982 profile in The Canadian Composer, Arthur Kaptainis observed that Karabekos's music "is often structured along 'classical' lines, and it is not impossible to find a melodic sequence faintly reminiscent of Beethoven, or a harmonic excursion into the virile turf of Brahms's gypsy invocations." Karabekos has conducted concerts of his works, Stefan Karabekos in Concert, at the O'Keefe Centre, Roy Thomson Hall, University of Toronto's Convocation Hall, and the Music Hall (sponsored by CBC) in Toronto; at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, and the Jubilee Theatre in Calgary. In 1983 he conducted Tribute to Alexander at the forum of Ontario Place, and in 1985 presented concerts of his works at the Festival of Athens and the Festival of Karditsa. In 1995 he presented his music throughout Ontario in a tour that included the cities of Ottawa, London, Oshawa, Kitchener and St. Catherines. He has been interviewed many times on Canadian radio and television, and has made lecture presentations and musical demonstrations on both the history of Greek music and his own works before university classes and community groups.

In 1981 he established the Karabekos Award at York University, a scholarship for talented undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of ethnomusicological research, composition and performance in a variety of musical styles, including elements outside the Western art traditions.

In 1997 Karabekos founded the Symphony Orchestra of Canada, an ensemble of Canada's finest musicians, drawn from the Toronto Symphony, National Ballet of Canada and the Canadian Opera Company. The SOC took the first step towards achieving their mandate by embarking on a historical tour of Greece. The SOC performed at the prestigious Cultural Capital of Europe as official representatives of Canada. The Orchestra shared the stage with many internationally renowned performers such as Milan's La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mr. Karabekos was commissioned to compose an original classical piece that epitomized the spirit of the cultural celebration. "Rhapsody, Thessoloniki 1997" was performed to capacity audiences in both Thessoloniki and two days later at the Kassandra Festival. The performances in Greece were met with spirited ovations, extensive media coverage and critical acclaim. The Symphony Orchestra of Canada is now poised to embark on what promises to be a historic exploration of the Canadian classical music experience.

The Symphony Orchestra of Canada performed at prestigious venues including Roy Thompson Hall, Toronto, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver and Ontario Place. In June 2000, the Orchestra performed at the George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Performing where the program featured the works of great Canadian composers, John Weinzweig, Louis Applebaum and John Burge. In addition, the Orchestra was awarded participation in the Arts & Culture Festival TO 2008 Olympic Bid. In partnership with the Friends of Simon Weisenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies, the orchestra performed at CBC's Glenn Gould Studios, June 4, 2001. The Concert was recorded by the CBC for future broadcast.

On November 11, 2001, the Symphony Orchestra of Canada performed a Remembrance Day Concert at the George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts. The SOC returned to the Weston Hall on June 8, 2003 to perform the premiere of Karabekos' Concertante for Cello and Orchestra with soloist David Hetherington.


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Canadian Music Centre