A series of cultural events are being on Lesvos island to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nobel Literature Prize winning poet Odysseas Elytis (1911-1996), a descendant of the island's eminent industrial Alepoudelis family. Elytis, born Odysseas Alepoudelis on November 2, 1911 in Heraklion, Crete, was regarded as a major exponent of poetic modernism in Greece, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1979 for his "Axion Esti".
To mark the centenary anniversary, 2011 has been declared 'Elytis Year' by Greece's culture and tourism ministry.
The venue of the events, from July 29-31, is the historic Vrana traditional Oil Press on the island of Lesvos, which re-opened as an Industrial Museum in 2009 after extensive restoration works that lasted three years by the Archipelagos Society.
The Vrana Olive Oil Press, one of the first steam-powered factories from the industrial revolution of Lesvos, dates back to the 19th century.
Built in 1887 in Papados village, in the Bay of Yera, the impressive stone and marble Press belonged to Nikolaos Vranas, Elytis' grandfather, and was in operation up to the early 1970s, while the olive oil it produced was traded throughout Greece and in Istanbul on the opposite Turkish coast on the Bosporus Strait.
The Vrana Oil Press-Museum is a rare architectural monument and living proof of Lesvos' major industrial development in the second half of the 19th century, and of Elytis' origin.
The events included the inauguration on July 29 of a thematic exhibition titled "Elytis' Lesvos' which will be on permanent display at the Museum.
Another event was the world premiere of a musical work composed by George Kouroupos specifically for the centenary celebrations at the Vrana Museum, based on Elytis' poem "The Moon of Mytilene". The world premiere took place in the Museum's small courtyard on Friday, immediately after the inauguration of the thematic exhibition. Due to the limited space, the inauguration and first performance were by invitation only,with a repeat performance on Saturday. Lyric performers Spyros Sakkas and Daphne Panourgia took part in the performance, during which poems by Elytis were read out by the late poet's companion and poet Ioulita Eliopoulou.
A larger concert, also free to the public, will be held on Sunday in the Museum's large courtyard, during which popular singer Alkistis Protopsalti will perform pieces from Elytis' first poetry collection "Prosanatolismoi" (Orientations, 1939), put to music by Elias Andriopoulos, which made her known to the Greek public 27 years ago.