Greek lyre-player and Cypriot fashion designer share Latvian poets’ mindful beauty

The #mindpower project of Latvia’s EU Presidency’s Cultural Program has taken Rainis and Aspazija to Greece and Cyprus in its 20th and 21st episodes.

Greek composer and singer Psarantonis (Antonis Xylouris) is known for his playing of the ancient instrument the lyre. Born in the mountain village of Anogeia in Crete, he has recorded more than 30 albums since the 1960s and performed across Europe, North America and Australia. His trademark whisper-to-a-scream dynamic delivery has been honed since the age of nine, when he started playing traditional wedding feasts.

“The future is now,” says Rainis (played by Goran Gora) as he closes an Apple MacBook in episode #20 of #mindpower and teleports us to the streets of Crete, where Psarantonis reads his raspy rendition of Aspazija’s poem “Silk Veil” from the collection “An Armful of Flowers” (1911). The poem singles out music as one of the divine expressions of a small nation boasting a great cultural heritage.

In episode #21 we meet Greek Cypriot fashion designer Kika Ioannidou, who together with Aspazija (played by Eva Ikstena-Strapcāne), reads an aphorism by Rainis comparing and contrasting the Sun and love amongst people. While Cyprus’ leading fashion house founder basks in the sun of her island-nation home, Latvia’s literary feminist matriarch does the same in the foggy tower of St.Peter’s Church in Riga.  

The Culture Programme of the Presidency of the Council of the EU has launched a series of conversational video vignettes honoring the 150th anniversary of poets Rainis and Aspazija, considered among the founding literary, political and social figures who began building the Latvian nation more than a century ago.

Dubbed #Domasspēks (#mindpower), the videos star troubadour Goran Gora and LTV news anchor Eva Ikstena-Strapcāne as the “first couple” of the national mindset, convincingly costumed to be hosting and remarking most wisely upon a series of current-day European thinkers bringing the turn-of-the-century socio-philosophical pioneering to an up-dated context.

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