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Pia Hadjinikou-Angelini

(17/3/1920 – 7/2/2018)

The founder and president  of the Angelinis-Hadjinikou Foundation, Pia Hadjinikos-Angelini, passed away on February 7, 2018, in the age of 97 years. We will make every effort to preserve her legacy. 

by Jenny Colebourne, THE ATHENIAN, December 1986

“Pia Hadjinikou-Angelini is the impresario who brought, among other things, Ballet Rambert to the Herod Atticus Theatre this summer (probably the dance highlight of the year) and the Ballet of Vienna to Crete.  She grew up in an artistie environment.  Her mother was a musician and artist, and she herself studied music, although she admits it was no preparation for her eventual calling.  She says she was like a soldier going into war with no idea what the battle would be like.  Hadjinikou-Angelini travelled a lot, and during her journeying she learned to love and appreciate her home.  She believes that Greeks, in spite of a relative lack of cultural stimuli and education as compared to other Western countries, instinctively appreciate good theatre.  She tries to bring artists who project the soul of their home country.  lt is not enough, she says, to go to England just to visit Mark’s and Spencer’s.  There’s mach more, of course, to English culture.

Hadjinikou-Angelini has an extraordinary talent for spotting exactly what does represent the soul of any given country.  She started down the path of the promoter purely by chance, 25 years ago in Belgium. The Belgians had wanted to bring a tapestry exhibition to Greece.  They were thwarted because local tapestry makers were afraid of competition, and asked Hadjinikou-Angelini to help.  Without any prior experience, she managed to persuade Greek authorities to not only accept the exhibition (on condition that nothing was to be sold), but to also provide the Zappeion as a venue.  Now on a roll, she demanded flowers and music from the Belgians. To her amazement, they complied by flying in fresh flowers every week.  It’s a pity, she says, that there were no videos then to record the event.  Hadjinikou-Angelini says it was a great shock to find that she was not praised by government officials for her efforts.  Everywhere she turned to organize new events, she found doors firmly closed in her face.  She began to realize the disadvantage of being a woman in the business world, not to mention working outside the aegis of the Culture Ministry; she could find no cooperation. Against all odds she continued alone (even today she has no help), and over the years has brought to Greece many artistic treasures.

She brought the Ballet de Marquis de Cuevas, the Noh Theatre of Japan, Marcel Marceau and the Living Theatre.  Hadjinikou-Angelini’s efforts were not confined to Athens and the Herod Atticus.  Her father had some land in Pelion, and with small amounts of funding frorn the EEC, the National Tourist Organization and the British Council she set up a theatre there with 350 seats.  She has presented a chamber music series demonstrating the history of music, as well as performances of Greek dances and shadow theatre. Passionately interested in educating children about the arts, she has organized many educational programs for youngsters, including those from rural backgrounds with almost no previous exposure to classical music and the like.  Hadjinikou-Angelini thinks it would be nice if, instead of bringing in famous orchestras all the time, Greece presented smaller, high quality chamber groups throughout the year.  She says she’s already making plans for next year’s Festival, but prefers not to discuss them. “The Ministry of Culture”, she says with a twinkle in her eye, “can make things difficult when they know what I’m doing.”

In 1959 Pia Hadjinikou-Angelini founded the agency Promote International Arts (PIA) with the aim to contribute to the cultural development of Greece.  This was achieved by inviting renowned ensembles and artists to Greece. Among them, the Ballet of Marquis de Guevas, Zizi Jeanmaire and The Ballet of Rolan Petit, the Russian folklore ballet Berioska, Antonio and his Classical Ballet from Spain, the ensemble of Indian Classical Dance with the national dancers Santa Rao Danayanti Joshi and Bahadur Khan, Marcel Marceau, Black Nativity, The Black Theatre of Prague, the Japanese state theatre Noh Kanzekai, the London Symphony Orchestra with Antal Dorati, the Virtuosi di Roma with Renato Fasano, the Czech ensemble Camerata Nova, The Marionettes of Salzburg, I Musici, famous string quartets such as the Smetana, Leowenguth, Zagreb and Prague, soloists such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Claudio Arrau and Shura Cherkassky, the Stuttgart State Opera with works by Wagner and Orff (on this occasion she also invited Carl Orff), the Royal Opera and Ballet of Covent Garden, the Prague State Opera, Benjamin Britten, Samuel Barber, the Jubilee Singers (California), the Ballet Rambert, the Paul Taylor Ballet, the Milan Radio Symphony Orchestra (RAI), the SWR Symphony Orchestra (Germany) with Karlheinz Stockhausen, the Living Theater (U.S.A.), Alvin Nikolai’s Murray Dance Theater (U.S.A.), the Brazilian theatre Macunaima, the Polish folklore ballet Mazowsze, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (Canada), the Royal Ballet of Denmark, the Ballet of Vienna Opera, the Seoul Metropolitan Dance Theatre on the occasion of the incination of the Olympic Flame for the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, the Kosice State Philharmonic Orchestra, Patassou, Dalida, Joe Dassin, and Charles Aznavour.

In addition to inviting famous foreign ensembles, Mrs. Hadjinikou-Angelini developed considerable activities to promote Greek arts.  She organized a tour of the Arts Theatre of Karolos Koun in France, the UK, Poland and the Soviet Union.  She encouraged dancer and choreographer Zouzou Nikoloudi to create the dance ensemble Chorika, for which she organised a tour in Europe, North and South America, Mexico and Japan.  She arranged many concerts for the Small Orchestra of Athens, in the frame of which she also produced the first performance of Elytis’ “Axion Esti” with music by Mikis Theodorakis and Grigoris Bithikotsis as soloist.  She organized performances of Ancient Greek Drama in Rhodos, which also comprised of performances of Greek folk dances with the ensemble of Nelly Dimoglou. 

She also promoted Greek entertainment singers, such as Yovanna and Nickie Campa, to international festivals, where they won prizes. Whenever she invited foreign ensembles, she always sought to involve Greek artists.  In 1962 she organized a large exhibition of Belgian tapestry from the 12th until the 20th centuries at the Zappeio Megaron in Athens (this event was under the auspice of the Belgian Ministry of Culture). 

She published the book “Olympia” on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Mexico in 1968, and a book about ancient and contemporary Olympic Games. She also acted as cultural consultant to the National Welfare Organisation and also to the City of Piraeus.

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