Every July, for the last few years, the monastery of Panagia Mirtidiotissa on the island of Kythera becomes a meeting point for musicians and artists from Greece and abroad. Young composers and performers collaborate in the creation of music and performance art which focuses on innovation and the discovery of new aesthetic paths. At the same time older and more experienced creators present their work to the participants, for whom their efforts can be a starting point for their own creativity. The participants arrive at the monastery carrying little more than their instruments and are housed in spartan cells of 5-6 beds each. These are independent of the adjacent monastery building and function also as rehearsal spaces. The monastery is about 10 kilometres away from the closest village.
The participants are organized into groups, each of them consisting of one composer who collaborates with musicians, dancers, actors or video artists. Each group has only three days to make a new piece, rehearse it and present it at a small concert outside the cells. This procedure is repeated twice in a period of nine days. On the 10th day an extended concert of a selection of these pieces, takes place in Zeidoros Cultural Centre, a beautiful open-air theatre in Kapsali, the most picturesque part of the island. Another feature of the workshop is the creation of improvisation groups from the performers only, which are organized by skilled tutors to give, another kind of performance.
The participants are responsible for their own safety, food and transportation matters. They are given beds with mattresses and camping equipment for cooking. The time schedule and the groups’ roles are determined by the course leaders who ensure that there is free time during the day for rest, a swim in the sea (the coast is within walking distance) and cooking.
The Music Workshops of Kythera are a non-profit making activity. With no state support, they are only possible thanks to the generosity of the Monastery and the Church of Kythera. The idea of the workshops came from the composer Panayotis Leftheris and the composer/oud performer Victoria Taskou. Flautist Stavroula Pavlikou organized the workshop of 2006 and there continues to be important organizational and artistic support from composer Fanny Kosona and pianist Dafni Sophocleous.