The Season Begins on Lesbos
The sunny Mediterranean is a fine place to begin the season! As Chairman of the Board of Advisors, Andreas Richter took part in the second Molyvos International Music Festival on the Greek island of Lesbos. It may seem surprising that a chamber music festival was founded here in the summer of 2015: in recent years, this island has achieved notoriety primarily as the destination of hundreds of thousands of refugees who survived dangerous journeys across the waters of the Mediterranean. Given Greece’s economic struggles even before the refugee crisis, this would not seem to be a promising location for a new music festival.
And yet this is exactly where a group of courageous individuals came together to risk such a new beginning: the founders were young people with excellent educational backgrounds who realized early in their lives that dialogue, exchange, and cooperation across borders are not only possible, but essential in our modern world. They proceeded to invite student artists and acclaimed professionals who feel at home throughout the world to take part in this new festival, emphasizing from the beginning networking and cooperation with other European cities and countries.
The founding of the Molyvos Festival brought with it enormous responsibilities, since tourism to Lesbos has been severely affected – far more than on other Greek islands – by the refugee crisis, and the island is in grave danger of being perceived as the epicenter of suffering and squalor in the Aegean. The establishment of a new and prestigious festival offered a chance to push back against this perception, and the local authorities quickly recognized the opportunity, offering generous support in spite of the island’s precarious financial situation. As a result, the people of Lesbos were able to see that they were not alone and would not be abandoned. Of course, in the long run, enthusiasm alone will not be enough to sustain the potential that the festival has already displayed. This will require the mobilization of support from all parts of Europe and a renewed awareness of the fundamental values that led to European unification.
You can find more information about this remarkable festival in the Special Projects section.