Reportaz Apo Washington: Discovering Greece through Wolf Trap
Mr. Bistis: The beauty of the Aegean Sea islands and the rich cultural heritage of Greece glittered last weekend on the impressive stage of Filene Center, a large complex for theatrical performances and music concerts, in the heart of an enchanting national park, the Wolf Trap, or Lykopagida, if you prefer to call it by its Greek name, in the State of Virginia.
The Center, located just a few miles away from Washington D.C., takes great pride for its numerous local, national and international educational programs, particularly a major project through which children from all around the world are invited every year to share their cultures with the American public at Wolf Trap Park. The event in honor of Greece was held primarily for the benefit of such programs. President and CEO of the Wolf Trap Foundation, the umbrella for the myriad of activities at the complex, is Terrence Jones.
Mr. Jones: Each year at the Ball of Wolf Trap we invite an Embassy to serve as the Host. The hosts often find ways to bring people in and to involve us. Today the host brought elements of Greece. The pianist tonight is a Greek, a very talented Greek pianist (Ms. Aglaia Koras). On our part we decorate the stage in the theme of whatever that country is. Of course tonight the theme is Greece, so we have all these beautiful surroundings representing Greece.
Mr. Bistis: The Center boasts the second largest stage in North America, surpassed only by the world famous Metropolitan Opera in New York. On the Center’s enormous stage, some 1.000 distinguished personalities of the American political and cultural establishment re-discovered Greece and its splendor through some masterfully crafted theatrical sets and painted backdrops. Alexandros Mallias, the Ambassador of Greece to the U.S., acted as Host.
Ambassador Mallias: The Wolf Trap Ball is the most significant cultural event of the year in Washington. I believe this is the first time that Greece is honored at the Ball. As you can see, I am standing in front of a set depicting the ancient Theatre of Epidaurus; across from me, floating over another set, is the golden Mask of Agamemnon; and on my left is the island of Santorini, at sunset with its famed sea and sky colors. Although we are in Washington it really feels like being in Greece.
Mr. Bistis: The Education Department of the Foundation is directed by Miriam Flaherty Willis. She and her associates coordinate a number of programs that bring individuals of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds together through the arts and enhance the lives of some 75.000 people, mostly children, including kindergartners, around the world.
Ms. Willis: Since 2000 Greece and Wolf Trap have had a wonderful working relationship with teachers, children, the communities in Athens and Sparta and our teaching artists, who have participated in our Journey to Greece and who have welcomed educators from Greece here to the Washington area and certainly to Wolf Trap.
Mr. Bistis: This year’s Wolf Trap Ball was organized with the support of 46 members of Congress and State Governors. Among them is Greek American Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland.
Sen. Sarbanes: This is a spectacular event. It is to benefit the Wolf Trap, which is one of our great cultural institutions, and the theme of the night is Discovering Greece. There are so many people here who have been so supportive of Greece, who feel the closeness between our two countries, and of course the decorations, all remind people of the great heritage that comes down to us from Greece. So we are very proud and happy about this event.
Mr. Bistis: Equally thrilled was his son, U.S. Representative John Sarbanes, whose district includes the city of Baltimore and who is one of the most active members of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus.
Rep. Sarbanes: The organization, Wolf Trap, is a celebrated organization with respect to the arts and support for the arts and it is a tremendous opportunity for the Greek Embassy and for Greece to be able to celebrate what it can offer and have that showcased here tonight. So, all of us in the Greek American community are very proud that Greece was part of the evening tonight.
Mr. Bistis: Many more distinguist personalities contributed to the event's success including Loula Loi Alafoyannis, Founder and President of the European-American Women's Council. The event, held in the aftermath of Greece’s fire devastation, also increased public awareness about this calamity and netted some additional contributions for the aid of the affected families.
Ms. Fishbein: Wolf Trap Foundation has a long standing relationship with the teachers and the children of Greece and in recognition of our friendship we have made a contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund.
Mr. Bistis: The weekend event at Wolf Trap may actually bring considerable more benefits for Greece.
Ambassador Mallias: Greece today is being celebrated and honored. This means a lot in terms of helping us sustain the largest possible flow of American visitors to Greece but also in terms of strengthening Greece’s cultural presence in the American society.
Miss Willis: Tonight’s theme is a continuation of this long friendship. It is a celebration but it is also a promise of great things to come.
Mr. Bistis: The Salute to Greece given by Wolf Trap’s great artists and educators seems to also reflect a desire to expand the strong relations with their colleagues in Greece.