Stelios Kafantaris

Violinist, Conductor
He was born in Athens in 1928 to parents of Asia Minor descent. He studied violin at the Athens Conservatory under Giorgos Lykoudis, graduating in 1952. He continued his studies at the National Conservatory under Vyronas Kolasis. He also studied music theory at the Greek Conservatory under Alekos Kontis, graduating in 1966. As a violinist he joined several Athens-based symphonic groups, including the GNO orchestra. As a conductor he has conducted the National Theater Orchestra in music for ancient tragedies, the Athens State Orchestra, the Symphonic Orchestra of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT), as well as smaller orchestras and ensembles. In the 1960s he worked closely with Manos Hatjidakis and Mikis Theodorakis. In 1960, he set up the Small Athens Orchestra and in 1965 the Piraeus City Symphony Orchestra, with the support of Mikis Theodorakis. Both of these orchestras were dissolved in 1967 after Greece came under the rule of the military junta. In 1967 he conducted the Orchestra of the city of Nancy, France and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. In 1971 he replaced famous orchestra conductor Fausto Cleva in GNO’s production of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. He has recorded works by Greek composers with the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) Symphony Orchestra. He is regarded as the founder of the Greek Violin School. Ha taught violin at the Athens Conservatory and at the Greek Conservatory in Thessaloniki. His list of students includes renowned Greek violinists Giorgos Demertzis and Leonidas Kavakos. Between 1969 and 1988, he worked with the GNO, conducting 17 productions and/or revivals of ten operas: Susanna's secret [Il segreto di Susanna], Mr. Bruschino [Il signor Bruschino], Orfeo and Eurydice [Orfeo ed Euridice], The godson [O vaftistikos], The wise girl [Die kluge], The bat [Die fledermaus], House of the three girls [Das dreimäderlhaus], The merry widow [Die lustige witwe], etc. In addition, he conducted nine ballets: Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Night on Bald Mountain, The magic toyshop etc. He died in Karlsruhe on 31/12/2003.