Greece revives its radio orchestra

Greece revives its radio orchestra


norman lebrecht

February 07, 2023

There were tears online when Athens shut down the Greek Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2013.

Well, now it has been brought back, with Michalis Economou as music director.

He’s a former chief od the ill-starred Qatar Philharmonic.


  • William Osborne says:

    Orchestras in Athens. Imagine an American city with 5 or 6 full time orchestras, and even though the USA is far richer than Greece:

    + State Orchestra of Athens
    + Orchestra of Athens
    + National Opera
    + Radio Symphony Orchestra
    + Philharmonia Orchestra
    + Armonia Atenea (formerly the Athens Camerata)

    • Petros Linardos says:

      William, are you sure these are all full time orchestras? I don’t think so. There may even be some duplication in the list. I am native Greek but live in the US for the last 20 years, so I may be fuzzy on some facts.
      That said, I will not question the argument you keep making about Europe having more orchestras and opera houses than the US.

      • X says:

        They are actually full time professional orchestras.

        Well, the Philarmonia is project based. And I suspect the Armonia Atenea something in between.

        • William Osborne says:

          Here is the concert calendar for the Phiharmonia. They presented 17 programs in 2022. That puts them borderline for full-time, but I would guess that it gives the musicians a decent income.

      • William Osborne says:

        Hello Petros. Here are the websites for the six orchestras. You can see that they are all different orchestras and that they are full-time–i.e. substantial seasons the orchestra members can live from. I see no site for Armonia Atenea, but there is info about it on the wiki page for its MD, George Petrou. It is only a chamber orchestra and the only one whose full-time status might be questioned.

        State Orchestra of Athens:

        Orchestra of Athens

        Greek National Opera

        Greek Radio Symphony Orchestra

        Athens Philharmonia Orchestra

        Armonia Atenea

        • Petros Linardos says:

          Thanks William.

          While I don’t question your main, so oft repeated arguments about US orchestras and opera houses and lack of public funding, I still think you are overestimating the orchestral landscape in Athens, Greece:

          – the “Orchestra of Athens” ( is located in Athens, Georgia.

          – Are you sure the Greek Radio Symphony Orchestra performs full time? It is not obvious from their webpage, which has blogposts about events but no overview. You posted an event page, not the orchestra’s page.

          FYI, Armonia Atenea. I didn’t find a webpage either.

          • william osborne says:

            Here is the website for the Greek Radio Symphony Orchestra, also called ERT National Symphony Orchestra. It’s not only full time, but also a rather large orchestra. The personnel is listed on the orchestra’s website:


            There is also the ERT Contemporary Orchestra which is a smaller orchestra that focuses on light classics. A link for it is on the same website. (Smaller second radio orchestras that play light music are not uncommon in large continental European cities.) With the ERT Contemporary Orchestra, there are still four clearly full time groups (two radio orchestras, the opera orchestra, and the state orchestra,) and with the Philharmonia at least over half time (17 programs in 2022.) The status of Armonia remains to be determined. Even if it were only half time, combined with the Philharmonia that would make the total equal to five orchestras with full seasons.

            The information with these urls (in spite of my Orchestra of Athens error) makes it clear that there is the equal of five orchestras with full seasons. But I don’t think you will accept it even with this evidence because it seems to be something you don’t want to believe.

            That’s odd because I take it you live in Munich where the two radio orchestras, Philharmonic, Staatsoper, Gaertnerplatz Opera, Munich Symphoniker, and the Munich Chamber Orchestra are there for all to see and full time. That’s a total of seven.

          • Petros Linardos says:

            I enjoy exchanging messages with you here, and I think we are both fact oriented. I have to respectfully disagree.

            I live in the US, but visited Munich many times in the 1990s and 2000s, and liked it a lot, also for what it has to offer musically.

            In the ERT National Symphony Orchestra’s website I don’t see any full season. All the blogposts are from past performances.

            You are right that ERT has several music groups, for different genres. It also has a respectable chorus. That’s a lot more than what local radio stations have to offer in the US, no doubt. But I see no evidence of full seasons. Musicians’ employment is another matter.

            I believe you often overestimate the range of activities of European orchestras, and underestimate US part-time orchestras. Again, I don’t question your big picture, but you overestimate the contrast. Also, we need to take quality into account.

      • William Osborne says:

        What is notable here is that the per capita income in Greece is 31,480 PPP dollars (2021) while in the USA for the same year it was 70,480 PPP dollars. And yet Athens has four full-time orchestras, plus one full-time or close to it, and a chamber orchestra with a very substantial season. Miami, by contrast, with a metro population of 5.5 million and one of the richest cities in the world, has no full time professional symphony orchestra at all. US cities struggle to have even one orchestra, and bankruptcies are common–like last year in San Antonio, the 7th largest city in the USA.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    What? I believe the hiatus formally ended in 2015.

    George Petrou took over from Michalis Economou in 2020.