Byron Kolasis

Conductor, Violinist, Composer
He was born in Antigone, Prince Islands, Constantinople on 20/03/1921. He studied at the Athens Conservatory with Joseph Bustidui, unanimously winning the first prize at his graduation in 1938. He continued his studies in Paris, where he received his diploma in fugue and conducting from the Scuola Cantorum (1946-1951). As a child prodigy violinist, he first appeared in concert at the “Theatro Kentrikon” [Central Theater] (1930), thereafter playing in the first violin section of the Athens Conservatory Symphony Orchestra (1931). During the years 1949-1968 he was concertmaster of the Athens State Orchestra. As a violinist he had an international career performing in Western Europe, the Soviet Union, Turkey, Egypt and several other countries. As a conductor he directed more than 500 concerts and many opera productions in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and elsewhere. In 1954 he founded the Athens Chamber Orchestra (Athens Camerata). He was a conductor of the Athens Radio Symphony Orchestra since 1941 and a principal conductor of the Greek National Opera (1965-1981) and the Athens State Orchestra (1978-1987). He worked with the GNO for thirty years (1962-1991), during which he conducted 32 operas, operettas and musicals in 79 new productions and/or revivals, some of which were presented for the first time at the GNO: Madama Butterfly, The Godson [O Vaftistikos], Spring’s Tale [Anoixiatiko paramythi], Werther, The Mother’s Ring [To dachtylidi tis manas], Eugene Onegin, Carmen, Macbeth, Rigoletto, La Gioconda, La traviata, Falstaff, Show Boat, etc. He conducted the operas Constantine Palaeologos [Konstantinos Palaiologos] (Herodeion, 1962) and Hero and Leander (Olympia Theater, 1970) in their world premieres. He taught violin and chamber music at the National Conservatory where he also served as artistic director (1982-1999). He composed chamber music. He was proclaimed a Commander of the Royal Order of George I and the Order of the Phoenix in Greece, decorated with the Gold Cross of St. Mark of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and the insignia of Officer of the French Legion of Honor, etc.