An International Summer Music Academy in Spetses, Leni Konialidis and 61 students

The following interview is written by Stelios Parris and originally published in Greek in


I have always admired people who have a vision and manage to make it happen, feel it develop in their mind as an idea, and see it breathe into existence. I was lucky enough to talk to  such a person, Leni Konialidis. On my way back I had a smile like a fool because I thought that nothing is impossible as long as you really want it and are willing to work much harder.

Leni Konialidis is not born Greek, she belongs to this category that I call love immigrants. She is half Swiss and half from Uruguay who fell in love with a Greek born in Uruguay and together they had three children. When she retired as a mother, she and her husband returned to Greece to live as single parents. She herself has studied international relations, but her love for music and her musical education led her to Uruguay to write as a journalist, reviews of classical music and operas. Her international relations studies came in handy when, shortly after deciding to live in Greece, she thought of creating the Greek Turkish Youth Orchestra, which at some point disbanded and her next vision took over. A vision she had long had in her mind.

Leni Konialidis and I both agreed from the beginning that an orchestra is a reproduction of society. As a member of an orchestra you have a responsibility, if we don’t all breathe together at the same time, if we dont respect and listen to the other and if we don’t follow the rules, then we are led to disagreements.

In fact, she shared with me that she even noticed a change in her children since she had them play music together.. From being rude with each other while playing; after their experience with the orchestra they became a close team. Much later, one of these three children, the son, wanted to get married in Spetses and went with mom to see the venues. Walking by the beach, she forgets about weddings and receptions. Her gaze is lost on a vast waterfront area with buildings and an amphitheater.

When she starts walking around in this  peaceful  area, the thought comes to her mind, this must be filled with music. This place was the Anargyreios and Korgialenios School of Spetses (A.K.S.S.) a once important school of the 20th century. A model private school and exemplary boarding school, inaugurated on October 1, 1927 by Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, it ceased to function as a school in 1983. It is located in front of Ligoneri beach.

The place functioned as a conference center. Leni Konialidis tortured it in her mind for two years, then she approached the committee and convinced them that the International Music Academy  which she envisioned could be based on the grounds of the school. and since that day the committee became involved to make it happen. It succeeded, it has been operating for the past two years (even despite the difficulties of the pandemic) during the summer. The Music Academy gathers young people aged 12-30 who talk musically with each other, and learn and play music for the community. Its ultimate goal is to operate all year round.

It was not an easy task and it required a lot of effort on her part. Imagine we are talking about a ten-day program that includes a series of high-level masterclasses for seven classical musical instruments, including lyric singing, with teachers from top soloists of international recognition. A selection of students is made, based on their level,  on their talent, and also on their musical experience. This year, in its third edition, the academy hosts, 61 students from 19 different countries. All this is under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture. The Administration of the Atika region assisted with some scholarships offered to students who were accepted by the teachers, but were unable to pay the fee. Mostly private donations have helped, because the price paid by a student can by no means cover the transportation and payments to the teachers, as well as other operating costs.

These 61 children from July 24th to August 2nd will live together, eat together, play music together and this year they will form their first Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Bartek Niziol (Prof. Bern University of the Arts ). Leni Konialidi invests in another form of tourism, a classical music tourism, what I call quality tourism.

The teachers who participate are renowned in their field and when they return to their country they share what they experienced and act as our ambassadors, as well as the students who will always remember the ten days they spent in Spetses. This International Music Academy, as I see it, creates professional and emotional bonds between teachers, students and residents of Spetses.

This year, the Academy provided free music education to local children aged 18 months to 11 years, making sure that a teacher visits Spetses every two weeks. Little by little, Leni’s vision  for the Academy to function also in winter is starting to come true, but the main thing she mentions is that  it offers something  to Spetses. Even the four free concerts during the course are important. This year there will be a Trombone Concert on the beach of Agios Mamas on July 30th. On July 31st a Chamber Concert at the Poseidonion Grand Hotel. On the 1st of August a Concert with the students of the music pre-education workshops at the church of Agios Nikolaos and on the 2nd of August the Closing Concert at the Open Theater of the Anargyreion and Korgialeneio School,

During the Academy, the students will have so-called House Concerts open to the public, where every night they will choose each other and play music pieces of their choice. This year’s courses include master classes for voice, flute, clarinet, trombone, violin, viola and cello. When I asked her if she had the possibility to work with an official organization for the International Music Academy of Spetses that will be able to operate in winter and summer, she immediately told me the Athens Conservatory. Again, I believe that at some point this will succeed too. We said any vision can come true.

Here is a link  for the names of the teachers who will teach again this year. Leni Konialidis conducts a group that is essentially an orchestra and acts as a musical  ambassador of goodwill for our country.

At the end, when I asked her to add something she would like to be said, she said she wants to thank the 4 ladies who work for the Academy’s organization and who do not want their names mentioned. Without them, nothing could be done.

As she told me, ideas are not enough by themselves, you can have many ideas and even have the money, but if you don’t have the people, a group to support it, nothing can be done. I kissed her hand upon leaving not only because I liked her and her work but mostly as a small thank you from me and all of us because with her little stone this woman puts our country on the international cultural map. I wish, Leni, that the International Music Academy will not only remain a summer Accademy, but will soon be a winter one as well, because we need music in winter and in summer to cheer the soul.


In the first two years of its organization, M.A.A.K.S.S. gathered students from 12 to 30 years old from USA, India, China, Taiwan, Italy, France, Switzerland, Spain, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Armenia, Serbia, Turkey, Lebanon and Greece. MAAKS.S. aspires to strengthen the involvement of the local community in its activities, in order to encourage the citizens of Spetses and the region to collectively create a model educational music platform that will attract students from all over the world .

Among the students of the Anargyrio and Korgialenio School of Spetses (A.K.S.S.) was Iannis Xenakis, a Greek pioneer composer with international recognition.

The Organizing Committee consists of: Petro Petrakopoulos (President of the Anargyrio and Korgialenio School of Spetses), Leni Konialidis (Head of the Music Academy of the Anargyrio and Korgialenio School of Spetses) and Leontio Portokalakis (General Secretary of the Anargyrio and Korgialenio School of Spetses).

The son of Leni Konialidis finally did not get married in Spetses but in Hydra.


Written by Stelios Parris


Original article by elculture, here