Greek artist sings Chinese song, enthralling audience of Athens festival

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Greek artist Alkistis Protopsalti, one of the most acclaimed and popular singers in the past four decades in Greece, sang a Chinese song during her performance in a festival in Athens on Sunday evening, enthralling the audience.

It was not the first time that Protopsalti sang "The Moon Represents My Heart", but every time she is taken away by the melody of Chinese music and language and the enthusiastic reaction of the crowd, she said in an interview with Xinhua.

On Sunday as part of the Summer Nostos (Homecoming) Festival organized at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, she chose songs in seven languages to perform along her own songs.

Spectators were surprised when they heard her singing in Chinese in addition to English and French.

The Chinese audience had the same reaction when she sang about love and the light of the moon for the first time in Chinese in 2007 at the concert hall of the Forbidden City in Beijing during a celebratory event for Sino-Greek friendship and cooperation.

With the assistance of the Chinese embassy in Athens, Protopsalti learnt the song within three weeks before the visit to China. It was her way to express her gratitude for the invitation to present Greek culture to Beijing, she said.

"It was one of the greatest concerts I have given in my entire career. I will always remember it. I was moved so much. It is like still seeing before my eyes the images of the moment when inside the concert hall of the Forbidden City I sang the first words," Protopsalti told Xinhua.

The Chinese cheered and sang along. "This magical thing that music does happened. For one moment all people became one. The entire hall was singing with me and my smile was huge," she recalled.

Protopsalti sang the same song again at Karaiskaki soccer stadium at Piraeus port as a surprise to a delegation of 300 Chinese businessmen and artists who had visited Greece for a Sino-Greek forum in 2016, as well as in 2018 during a charity concert at Odeon Theater at the foot of the Acropolis hill.

It was the first time Greeks heard her singing in Chinese.

"The applause was so warm. You know, it (the song) has a great melody. Chinese music has tremendous sensitivity. One may not understand a simple word, but can feel the emotions in his/her heart through the musicality of words," she said.

Protopsalti always wanted to visit China, because she admires Chinese peoples' contribution to humankind's cultural heritage.

"I was always admiring Chinese people for their philosophy on life," she said.

"I was surprised by the great love Chinese, Chinese friends, have for Greece, the Greek civilization and Greek history. I believe that these two peoples have laid, if you may, the strongest pillars in world history," she added.

"I wish and hope that I will be able to visit again Beijing, but also other cities in the future to present the Greek music and Greek language, which in my view, is the most beautiful flower of our homeland," Protopsalti told Xinhua.

"For me each music exchange is, let's say, a further step closer to the human being and peace. Very strong ties are born through music. Music unites people," she talked about her philosophy on music and her trips across the globe as an "ambassador" of the Greek music scene.

With a strong Dorian voice and an explosive presence on stage, Protopsalti has collaborated with the most important Greek composers, famous foreign artists such as Goran Bregovic and the Gipsy Kings, has appeared on stage with Tito Puente and has given numerous concerts in major theaters and operas around the world, from the United States and Canada to Russia, from Australia to Egypt and Turkey, from South Africa to Cuba.

Over a billion TV viewers had the opportunity to see her performing during the closing ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. 

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