Aghia Sophia – Its History, Architecture and Cultural Contributions under the auspices of the Club for UNESCO Piraeus & Islands

«December 27, 537 AD: Aghia Sophia – Its History, Architecture and Cultural Contributions»
Under the Auspices of the Club for UNESCO Piraeus & Islands

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


«Solomon, I have surpassed thee!»
– Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus Augustus (AKA Justinian I), upon first entering and seeing his completed patriarchal cathedral.

Greetings: Mr. Ioannis Maronitis, President of the Club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands and Member of the Board of the World Federation of Associations and Club Centres for UNESCO, responsible for Europe and North America.
Billy Chrissochos, Director of Modern Music of the New York Chapter of the Club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands.
Panagiotis Karousos, Director of Opera and Classical Music of the Club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands.

Dear Friends and Colleagues –

We are very excited to invite you to our upcoming event on Aghia Sophia on Tuesday, December 13th at 6pm at the 3 West Club.

This December marks the One Thousand Four Hundred and Seventy Ninth (1,479th) anniversary of its inauguration by the Emperor Justinian I. Born out of the fires and unrest of the Nika uprising in Constantinople, this magnificent structure was inaugurated just 5 years and 10 months after construction commenced. The 20th Century historian and Philhellene Robert Byron, maintained that the greatness of Byzantium lay in what he described as «the Triple Fusion»: that of a Roman body, a Greek mind, and a mystical oriental soul. The same can be said for Aghia Sophia, for it was soon after its inauguration, that this building was perceived far and wide as a unique and crowning achievement of The Eastern Roman Empire.

Aghia Sophia over its long history, has been an Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral, Catholic Church, Mosque and Museum. More than any other building which has survived from late antiquity, it symbolizes the crossing and meeting of religions, cultures, empires, civilizations and regional hegemons. 1,500 years after its dedication, it has transcended its original function as cathedral, and transformed into both a celebrated and contested symbol emblematic of the history of the Eastern Mediterranean.

We thought it fitting to honor and remember the anniversary of this inauguration by having a panel discussion which will examine the architectural, cultural, historical and geo-political impact that Aghia Sophia has had.

Our evening will commence with an introduction by EMBCA President and Founder, Lou Katsos. John Fotiadis, Vice President of EMBCA, and an Architect with a keen interest in history, will then moderate and participate in a panel consisting of author Alexander Billinis, journalist and commentator Constantine “Dean” Sirigos, and composer Billy Chrissochos. The panelists will give brief presentations and then participate in an open discussion.

This event is being held in association with the New York Chapter of the Hellenic American Institute (AHI) and AHEPA Delphi Chapter 25 of Manhattan.

We hope you will join us for what promises to be a very stimulating evening!

Best regards – EMBCA
Lou Katsos, John Fotiadis, Ahmed Hassaballa, Nick Machairas

Porphyra will be represented by Billy Chrissochos, Despina Chrissochos and Mike «Risko» Savvas. There will be a live performance by Mr. Savvas on the tzoura presenting music from Porphyra’s new album. Also, as a special treat the audience will hear an exclusive track from the band’s new album «The Starmaker’s Prophecy,» called St. Basil’s Hymn (a rocked out version of the Kalanta).

The Club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands is a proud participant of this important event and will award the distinguish organizers and panel.
Our UNESCO New York Chapter has presented the following highly acclaimed productions under the direction of Billy Chrissochos; The first Greek opera at Lincoln Center, the “Olympic Flame” by Panagiotis Karousos, and Billy Chrissochos’ own “Porphyra, a Grecian Rock Opera. Anna and Vladimir: the love that ROCKED the world,” which debuted at Carnegie Hall and Off Broadway at the Theatre Players. Both works have been produced in collaboration with the Hellenic American Center of the Arts.

Mr. Ioannis Maronitis, President of the Club for UNESCO Piraeus and Islands and Member of the Executive Board of the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centers and Associations (WFUCA) for Europe and North America.