STEFANOS KARABEKOS was born in the village of Kranea, near Karditsa, Thessalia, Greece. 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 and conducting with Errol Gay and Victor Feldbrill.
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 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 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 and Stefanos Karabekos took the first step towards achieving their mandate by embarking on a historical tour of Greece. They performed at the prestigious Cultural Capital of Europe, Thessaloniki 1997, as official representatives of Canada. The city Thessaloniki was designated in 1997 as the Cultural Capital of Europe.The Orchestra shared the stage with many internationally renowned performers such as Milan's La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra and Mistslav Rostropovch.
Mr. Karabekos was commissioned by the Cultural Capital of Europe Commission, to compose the Rhapsody Thessaloniki, an original classical piece that epitomized the spirit of the cultural celebration at Thessaloniki. "Rhapsody Thessaloniki" was premiered under the baton of the composer to capacity audiences in both Thessaloniki and two days later at the Kassandra Festival. The performances were met with spirited ovations, extensive media coverage and critical acclaim. Mr. Karabekos has dedicated this Rhapsody to Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chretien and his wife Madam Aline Chretien for their commitment to multi-culturalism and the arts in Canada.
Under the direction of Stefanos Karabekos the Symphony Orchestra of Canada performed at prestigious venues including Toronto's Roy Thompson Hall, George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts, and at CBC's Glenn Gould Studio.
The Symphony Orchestra of Canada and Stefanos Karabekos is now poised to embark on what promises to be a historic exploration of the Canadian classical art of music.
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