Focusing on Art and awarding the leading Pianist and Maestro Daniel Barenboim, one of the most influential figures of the international music scene, the Award Ceremony for the third Empress Theophano Prize was held on Tuesday, October 11 at the emblematic Rotunda monument in Thessaloniki. Η.Ε. the President of the Hellenic Republic Ms. Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, as well as leading personalities from all over Europe honored the event with their presence.
Η.Ε. the President of the Hellenic Republic Ms. Katerina Sakellaropoulou referring to the prestige and scope of the awardee’s personality said that he is “a great humanist, a brave intellectual, and a deeply democratic citizen. An exuberant, outstanding figure, both endowed with extraordinary gifts – a perfect memory, brilliant virtuosity, an irresistible way of winning over an audience, and above all else a boundless love of music, “music as a way of life” as he puts it – and capable of defying and overcoming conventions and barriers. Because Daniel Barenboim has never hesitated to take highly courageous public stands.”
Following, the Chairman of the Theophano Foundation Governing Council, Stavros Andreadis, referred to Daniel Barenboim’s creation, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, and its musicians as the people who bring to life his vision, and highlighted the role of Art to act as a dialogue platform: “This is exactly the power that music has to approach and highlight a value that is fundamental and necessary for the world today: realizing our common humanity.”
Speaking about the rationale for this year’s award, the Chairman of the Advisory Council, Herman Count Van Rompuy, said among other things “Daniel Barenboim has various nationalities, but, above all else, he holds a passport issued by Mankind itself. […] He speaks many languages, but he uses the universal language of music more than any other”. He also highlighted the importance and the symbolism of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra by saying that “It is about music and cultural exchange, about Palestinians and Israelis coming together in dialogue.”
Receiving the award on behalf of his father and surrounded by the orchestra’s musicians, Michael Barenboim said characteristically: “By being part of this group, each and every one of these musicians sets an example of openness, dialogue, and the will to listen to each other. Especially for the Middle East, this is not a question of agreeing or disagreeing with the narrative of someone of a different nationality, different political beliefs, or a different personal history and background. It is about the indispensable need to accept the legitimacy of this different perspective. In that sense, with every concert this orchestra plays, it sends out a call for mutual understanding. It is in this spirit that all of us feel extremely honored to receive this prize.”
Music itself could not be absent from this year’s award ceremony: an outstanding performance of an octette of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with musicians on stage from Israel, Palestine, and Middle East countries was particularly moving and conveyed with the most resounding and essential way the symbolism and meaning of this year’s award. The music performance was accompanied by the work of Costa Picada, a Greek visual artist who explores the relationship between Art and Science, the healing effect of Art, and the inseparable relationship between nature and life itself.
Daniel Barenboim himself watched the ceremony online and transmitted his own special message: “I am very touched to have been honored with the Empress Theophano Prize. I was very sorry not to be able to attend the ceremony yesterday at the historic Rotunda in Thessaloniki, but am grateful to my son Michael Barenboim and the musicians of the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble for receiving the award on my behalf and on behalf of every musician of the West-Eastern Divan orchestra, and thanking the Empress Theophano Foundation with words and with music.”
The Award Ceremony was honored with the presence of leading personalities from all over Europe such as Rita Süssmuth, f. President of the German Parliament, Sir Ivan Rogers, f. UK Ambassador to the EU, Maria Luisa Poncela, f. Secretary of State in Spain, and attended by the Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni, the Deputy Minister of Interior in charge of Macedonia – Thrace, Stavros Kalafatis, the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Konstantinos Zervas, the CEO of Eurobank, Fokion Karavias, the President of Aegean Airlines, Eftychios Vassilakis, and many others. The presentation of the award ceremony was made by the journalist and Director of Kathimerini newspaper, Alexis Papachelas.
Sponsor of the Award Ceremony for the third year, the CEO of Eurobank, Fokion Karavias, stated about the award: “This year the Empress Theophano Prize honors a prominent ambassador for global peace, an Art visionary who showed how the power of music can unite and encourage the peaceful coexistence among people. As the grave social and financial impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is felt globally, it is imperative to keep our faith in the principles of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. Eurobank supports initiatives that, as the Empress Theophano Prize, aim to promote common good. Working together and pursuing inclusive prosperity are at the heart of our business strategy as well as our Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.”
The Empress Theophano Prize is awarded every year by the Theophano Foundation, as a distinction, and without monetary consideration, through a process of evaluation of the nominations by the two main bodies of the Foundation, the Advisory and the Governing Council.
You can watch this year’s Award Ceremony at the foundation’s website here www.theophano.eu.
CONTACT: Vicky Papadimitriou, Project Coordination | E: firstname.lastname@example.org | T: +30 6937 229858
The award ceremony took place with the kind support of:
Official air carrier sponsor:
With the kind support of:
Herman Van Rompuy
President Emeritus of the European Council
Former Minister of State of Belgium (BE)
Former President of Ireland | Professor of Children, Religion and Law, University Glasgow (IRL)
Trustee Edinburgh International Festival | Director Victoria & Albert Museum Dundee (UK)
Former European Ombudsman (GR)
President, Anna Lindh Foundation | Former Secretary of State (F)
Former President of Finland (FI)
Author and film director (PL)
Maria Luisa Poncela
Former Secretary of State (ES)
Vice-President Museum of European History (BE)
Professor Emeritus, Paris-Sorbonne University (FR)
Sir Ivan Rogers
Former UK Ambassador to the EU (UK)
Honorary fellow Collegio Alberto, University of Turin (IT)
Former President, European Court of Justice of the EU (GR)
Karl Prince zu Schwarzenberg
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs (CZ)
Former President of the German Parliament (DE)
Professor Emeritus, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (GR)
Luuk Van Middelaar
Professor of EU Foundations and Institutions, University of Leiden (NL)
Chairman, SANI/IKOS Group
Chairman, Cultural Society of Entrepreneurs of Northern Greece (GR)
Chairman, EFTHYMIADIS Agrotechnology Group
Honorary Chairman, Federation of Greek Industries (GR)
Chairman, Gerovassiliou Wines (GR)
Member of the Board, Hellenic Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage (GR)
Chairman, Greek Forest Property Association
Head of a forest management and wood production firm (GR)
Nada Korac Kakabadse
Professor of Policy, Governance and Ethics, Henley Business School, University of Reading (UK)
Chairman, ALUMIL Group (GR)
Professor Emeritus of Political Theory and European Politics, University of Salzburg (AT)
Secretary General, High Level Groups on Policy Innovation (BE)
Chairman, INART (GR)
Empress Theophano, who inspired this prize, is a historic figure of Europe who played a significant role in its development during the 10th century.
The niece of Emperor John I Tzimiskes, she married Otto II and was crowned Holy Roman Empress as his wife. Following his death, she maintained the title of Empress. Her historic presence in Western Europe, dedicated to improving relations between East and West, offered a positive contribution to the cultural renaissance of western European territories, introducing to the west the central role women had in Byzantine society and transferring significant influence from the flourishing Byzantine empire in the fields of education, the arts, commerce, and health, while working to advance civil governance, promoting it over the military.
Empress Theophano is buried at the Cathedral of St Pantaleon in Cologne, Germany.
The emblematic monument of Thessaloniki, was constructed in the early 4th century AD, on the turning point between the pagan with the Christian world, probably as a temple for ancient cult worship or as a mausoleum for Constantine the Great (306-337). This circular, domed building measures 29.80 meters in height, 24.50 meters in diameter, its walls are 6.30 meters thick and can only be compared architecturally to the Pantheon in Rome. Not long after it was built and during the early years of the long-lived Byzantine Empire (330-1453), the Rotunda was turned into a Christian church with the addition of a sanctuary on its eastern side. The interior was decorated with Early Byzantine (4th- 6th c. AD) wall mosaics of unique artistry and beauty. It was Thessaloniki’s cathedral church (metropolis) between 1524 and 1591, the year in which it was converted to a mosque by the Ottoman conquerors. It remained in use as a mosque until the city’s liberation in 1912. Its dedication since that time to Saint George (Agios Georgios) is owing to the small neighboring church of this name. The mosaic decoration of the Rotunda is a masterpiece of Late Antique art.
Photo credits: Ephorate of Antiquities of Thessaloniki City.
Photo credits: Studio 8 Photos, Efi Panagoula.