Homage to Collaborator Kalliopi Bolovinou

I was invited to join the TEDx stage only 17 days before to our performance.

My previous musical collaborator was half a world away. To develop this global stage performance during a pandemic, I needed some closer award-winning talent. Enter Kalliopi Bolovinou. I text messaged Kalliopi, who at that time had only briefly begun teaching our young daughter eurythmics. She was curious to engage with my project. We learned how to work together at a rapid pace thanks to her incredible ability to communicate clearly in multiple languages (both human languages and musical languages). I, too, quickly learnt her ability to express wisdom, humour and empathy in speech and harmony is utterly unparalleled.

This is appropriate because in Greek mythology, her namesake Kalliope is the Muse who presides over eloquence and epic poetry; so called from the harmony of her voice. So I might just take this precedent as an excuse to wax lyrical with some eye witness report of her epic skills.

It took barely any time to onboard her with regards to the scope of my DELPHI project and we began rehearsing together, building our live art and music performance, developing it at record speed and finessing it as we went.

Kalliopi understood the educational elements immediately, the complex meta levels of the theory, philosophies, bereavement therapies and feminism at core, and was able to adapt her music style (classical training rehearses elements of a score) to a more immediate method (rehearsing the entirety every time) to fit with the unique continuity of my continuous line art performance.

She was inspired by the people we interacted with and the content of the storyline and developed her own bespoke response to the art with a gradual crescendo from Debussy’s Syrinx to a modern segment of a composition called “Ascèses” for solo flute (1967). The composer is André Jolivet. The original publication has 5 parts. Kalliopi performed No3 and No4 during the 8 minutes she developed for our show.

This is how she describes the music she developed, in her own words:

“Music is one of the most powerful forms of international expression; it breaks down all barriers by overcoming languages ​​and transcends national borders. [I’ve] chosen classical and contemporary music for solo flute, inspired at the same time by composers, traditional dances and songs from key countries on DELPHI’s route: the Celtic points of Brittany, the islands Greek, African plains, Russian winter… to create a living narration of traditional tales. The music chosen comes from eminent composers, but also segments meshed and recomposed […] on traditional themes accompany the emotional journey of the story, the flute blows air into the lungs of the illustrated story, giving it life.”

We worked hard to make sure our collaboration mapped the music onto the art and the art supported the flow of the music and that our entrance onstage would be in synch with the theatricality of a live storytelling performance.

Kalliopi even taught me how to illustrate a stage direction diagram with French subtitles!

We struggled to offer flexible solutions to the never ending changes that occurred during the preparation of this event. The global pandemic cause the audience numbers to decrease, tickets to be returned, a livestream video option to be brought in and the venue to be changed three times! We had to rearrange our lives and our family’s lives and our children’s schedules and our work schedules, all in the name of our art and music.

We were not welcomed to rehearse on stage until the day of the TEDx event and even then the producers didn’t give the time to do a full 8 minute run through. We had 3 minutes to check out microphones and our stage positions and check the audio and lighting etc was all in place to our professional standards.

Please note all the mask wearing and even the hand sanitiser on the table. The precautions necessary to make this event covid compliant were incredibly stressful. I’m so lucky I had such positive professionals on all sides.

I will share Kalliopi’s biographical history here while also sharing images of her incredible performance on the global stage we shared.

Kalliopi Bolovinou began her music studies early in Ioannina, Greece and Athens and then trained abroad. She holds the Superior Diploma in Flute and the Superior Diploma in Musical Writing from the Athens Conservatory with the highest distinction. 

She obtained her Masters at the Royal Conservatory of Music of Mons in Belgium in the class of Marc Grauwels with great distinction.

Then her Superior Diplomas in flute and piccolo at the Ecole Normale de Musique Alfred Cortot in Paris in the class of Mihi Kim. 

In addition to her flute studies she also studied Musicology at the University of Athens.

She is also interested in the practice and expression of contemporary music.

She is studying Contemporary Music at the Conservatory of Gent with the Belgian contemporary music ensembles “Ictus” and “Spectra”. 

As a teacher, Kalliopi trained at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and at the Dalcroze Institute of Rhythmics in Brussels. She teaches flute at the International School of Brussels (ISB).

She won 1st Prize at the Lions Club National Flute Competition in Belgium and she represented Belgium at the Lions Club International Flute Competition in England. 

During her studies, she had scholarships from the Greek state, the Ecole Normale de Musique Alfred Cortot in Paris, the Palais des Beaux Arts in Thessaloniki (Megaro Mousikis in Thessaloniki, Greece) and the Onassis Foundation.

She has worked as an orchestral musician in Greece and Belgium in different orchestras and has performed as a soloist with the National Orchestra of Greece, the Symphony Orchestra of the University of Athens, the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Athens and the Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia. In the contemporary scene, she has collaborated with several ensembles, notably the French ensemble “Multilatérale”, with which she recorded at IRCAM in Paris works by the French composer Jacques Lenot (disc Chiaroscuro).

She participated in the creation of works by composers such as Yan Maresz, Matteo Franceschini, Mark Applebaum, Jacques Lenot, Yiannis Kyriakides and she participated in several festivals and workshops in Belgium, UK, France, Greece, Italy.

His interest in chamber music led him to collaborate with Belgian and foreign artists in flute and guitar duo, flute and piano, flute quartet. Within the Kaleidoscope association of which she is a founding member, she works in the multidisciplinary show “Balkan Project” which combines the arts of music, storytelling and illustration around the culture of the Balkan countries together with the storyteller Belgian Bernadette Heinrich, Spanish illustrator Teresa Arroyo and Greek guitarist Yiannis Efstathopoulos. 

My favourite moment was in the dressing room after our event when Kalliopi said to me, “Thank you for letting me develop something creative with my altoflute.” In case anyone was wondering, all this has clearly been on big excuse to let us hear her altoflute’s voice ring out!

We thought it would be pretty rockstar to use the opportunity of this TEDx stage to practice our stage performance while developing a collaborative show together and in the short time of our rehearsals for this performance we ALSO built an English language AND French language application and dossier of the project to share an educational performance for schools here in Belgium.

You can see the development of that project on Kaleidoscope, Kalliopi’s musical theatre production company webpage here.

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