If someone had told me, while I listened to the Beatles latest hit ‘Let it be’ over 40 years ago (yikes! That ages me – ‘though I was wearing pigtails and white knee high socks at the time!) that nearly half a century later I would be hearing it again, but this time sung by a choir of Greek children, in a small school theatre, on a tiny island in Greece…well, I’d never have believed it!.
Yet tonight, here I was….sitting in the local High school in Skiathos, attending an evening organised by local librarian, Malamou Stamelou, to commemorate World Peace Day by paying tribute to the life and work of the late, great, John Lennon.
Despite the awful weather outside (a deluge of cold driving rain!) the auditorium quickly filled to capacity with excited islanders of all ages who, as the lights dimmed, fell into awed silence to watch the entertainment unfold.
The stage was simply decorated with symbols of peace, anti – war slogans and colourful flower cutouts, all reminiscent of the ‘Flower Power’ days of my youth.
In front of a large backdrop of old, rare (and mostly unseen) black and white film footage, showing the life of John Lennon (with Greek sub-titles) school children took turns in taking to the podium to speak about John Lennon’s remarkable life and career.
From his childhood growing up in Liverpool, they chartered his life through the early ‘Cavern’ days, the successful Beatles years, his spiritual quest with visits to the Maharishi in India, his anti-war campaigns calling to ‘Make Love not War’ with his famous ‘sit in’ (or rather ‘bed in’) with Yoko Ono, right up to his untimely death in New York in 1980. I thought I knew all just about all there was to know about this iconic figure and was surprised to learn so many new and interesting facts. The inclusion of a rare animation film of John Lennon’s drawings and doodles (many of which illustrated his books such as ‘A Spaniard in the Works’) was a real treat and gave further insight into the humour and intellectual wit of his multi-talented personality.
The full programme of events included eloquent readings, interspersed with poetry, popular Beatles songs sung by the school choir and, through modern movement and dance, a beautifully enactment of ‘Working Class Boy’.
The highlight of the evening was a live concert given by two prominent local musicians, Sotiris Tasiopoulos and Kostas Andronides. They skillfully sang and played their way though a wide selection of favourite Lennon /McCartney compositions, some of which I hadn’t heard for years….’Oh-Bla-Di, oh-Bla-Da’. ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘Hey Jude’ in paticular brought back long-forgotten and happy memories for me! It was a very moving and professional performance and left the whole audience clearly delighted by the way they were singing along, tapping feet and swaying on their seats.
The organisers, teachers and pupils should feel immensely proud of their achievement tonight. Being both thought-provoking and informative, the whole production was well -rehearsed and well-choreographed; a wonderful evening of pure entertainment and a fitting tribute to a legend of the 20th century whose beliefs, ideals and legacy clearly live on in the hearts and minds of the youth of today throughout the world.