Who we are


Safira Anztus-Ramos, music director of ESGYO

Safira is a musician who is very much involved and aware of the role of music in social change. She graduated from the Conservatorio de Getafe with Distinction in Piano and Chamber Music. Determined to continue her musical journey and always with orchestral conducting in mind, she fulfilled her Bachelor’s degree in Solo Piano Performance with a Scholarship at the Royal Northern College of Music of Manchester, under the tutelage of Colin Stone. She also studied for one year on a scholarship at the University of Macedonia (Thessaloniki). In Athens, in 2014, she was awarded her Diploma in piano with Distinction and First Prize. Safira lives in Athens since 2015, where she has been studying conducting alongside maestro Miltos Logiadis. She has successfully finished her Master´s Degree in piano at the Athens Conservatoire with the renowned soloist Theodore Tzovanakis and studies viola with Antonios Manias. She has also taught conducting seminars both in Argentina and Greece, and has received first awards in Chamber Music and Piano competitions in Spain and England. Safira is a member of The Global Leaders Program (YOA-Orchestra of the Americas), an organism that collaborates with different musical projects for social change around the world. She has appeared as a conductor and teaching artist with orchestras in Spain, Greece, England and in Chile, Mexico and Argentina.

Francis Gagliardi, french horn, music initiation and music theory teacher

Francis is a music educator, french horn player and pedagogical advisor with expertise in special education, curricular adaptations and youth at risk, coming from the Venezuelan highly acclaimed music education model El Sistema. She works for ESG and she also collaborates with MusicArt Project El Sistema Serbia, providing educational masterclasses for teacher training, developing curriculums and supervising and giving educational consultancy. She has been working in different countries, applying and spreading the El Sistema Methogology: she was the music theory/French horn teacher in his birthplace Los Teques, Venezuela, she was the head of brass department at he Saint Lucia School of Music, and she also has worked as a invited to help developing the brass section of the El Sistema Sweden's "Dream Orchestra". She has also been invited for El Sistema Sweden's "El Sistema Academy 2019", where she gave various conferences on music education and El Sistema methodology. Currently, Francis continue to develop herself as a professional while investigating and applying new theories, and studies French Horn with the highly recognized Greek maestro Kostas Siskos.

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Giannis Ismirnioglou, violin teacher

Giannis was born and raised in Sparta, Laconia. He started learning clarinet when he was 8 years old, at the Municipality Philharmonic Orchestra. Giannis has been an integral member of the group of the first clarinets of the Philharmonic Orchestra for many years. He commenced simultaneously classical guitar and Music Theory at “Lakoniko Odeio”. He studied at the Music High School of Sparta. His particularly high performance at violin lessons resulted in being grated a scholarship by National Conservatory of Sparta for studies in the Classic Violin Department, where he continued studying with Giorgos Giakoumis, Spiros Stergiou and Matthaios Dakoutros. Giannis, having excelled in Harmonization exams, continued his studies in Music Theory under the supervision of conductor, composer and theorist Nikos Kariotis, and got his Degrees in Counterpoint and Fugue marked with “Excellent”. Moving to Athens gave Giannis multiple opportunities to participate in music ensembles as member of choirs and soloist, as well as to attend seminars with internationally renowned musicians and teachers. Giannis has composed and arranged music for various music ensembles. When he first came to Athens, he served as conductor and arranger at the choir of Cultural Groups at the Students Accommodation University of Athens. He holds a Diploma in electric guitar from Rockschool (Trinity College London) in England. He has been working at El Sistema Greece as violin teacher since 2017, while conducting the children’s choir at National Conservatory of Sparti, teaching music ensembles and electric-acoustic guitar, as well as part of the department of Music Theory (Theory and Harmonization). He has collaborated with various conservatories, music stages, cultural venues and renowned musicians all around Greece. He is an active musician, with innovative approaches to various music genres.

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Alexandros Kasartzis, cello teacher

Alexandros was born in Volos, where he commenced violoncello at the age of 8 years old. He continued his studies in Thessaloniki where he studied at State Conservatory and Music Science and Art Department of the University of Macedonia, and graduated holding Degrees “Excellent with Honours” and “Excellent” respectively. Afterwards, he moved to Genova, in Italy, where he studied violoncello and Chamber Music at Conservatorio N. Paganini, funded by the State Scholarships Foundations (IKY). He has been distinguished in various music competitions in Greece and abroad. At the age of 16 years old he received a fellowship to participate in the international festival-masterclass Ameropa in Prague. Being selected after audition to collaborate with the well-known Quartetto di Cremona has been one of the major distinctions in his career. Alexandros has performed in various concerts and festivals with numerous music ensembles and symphonic orchestras. He currently lives and works as a musician in Athens and teaches violoncello in Music Schools.

Antigoni Keretzi, musical advisor

Antigoni was born in Mitilini, studied Monody, Upper Theoretical and Choral Direction. She has been a  founding member of the vocal band "The Singers" as well as the ERT ( Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation) Choir. She has sung as a soloist with the Choir, the Symphony and the Contemporary Music Orchestra of ERT, the Athens Camerata, the Athens State Orchestra, the Thessaloniki Symphony Orchestra, and the BBC National Orchestra. She has collaborated with the Athens Music Hall and has recorded works of Greek Composers. She has founded the Greek vocal quartet, the voice quartet of Athens, the vocal ensemble "I menestrelli", and the soloist vocal ensemble "Women's Voices". She has published the book "Choir Direction" and "The Vocabulary of Music" A 'helps. She is the Artist Director of the Municipal Conservatory of Atalanti and directs the Mixed Choir. She teaches Monody at the Municipal Conservatory of Piraeus.

Stavros Klavanidis, brass sectional leader of ESGYO

Stavros was born in Athens. He commenced studying trombone with Anastasios Klavanidis at the age of 18 years old at Athens Conservatoire. He graduated in 2004 holding a Diploma marked with “Excellent with Honours”. He was offered a place in Music Academy Artisten in Gothenburg (Sweden) in 2002. Stavros studied there for a year with internationally renowned trombone scholar Ingermar Roos, developing his knowledge in performing musical texts, chamber music, and music abstracts. He has participated in trombone seminars delivered by Antonis Gerochristodoulou, Ingermar Roos, Jonas Byllunt, Jessika Gustafsson. He has collaborated with almost all greek music ensembles: National Opera, State Orchestra of Athens, ERT Contermporary Music Orchestra, Orchestra of Colours, Enarmonia, Municipality of Athens Symphony Orchestra. He has been a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Navy (1999-2002) and member of Municipality of Piraeus Philharmonic Orchestra (2002-2005). In 2005 he was offered the position of Second Principal trombone in Greek National Opera.

Tzempen Klapakis, musical advisor

Tzempen was born in 1975 in Sydney and lives in Athens. He holds a Diploma in Violin and has graduated from Architecture at NTUA. He has been engaged with violin teaching since 1992. Tzempen believes that teaching music includes elements of architecture in it. As a music teacher you are called to “design” and gradually “build” a child from scratch, until the moment that the child is able to play whatever they are asked. Jeben is in charge of the artistic workshop “To Mousiko Kouti” and music teacher at the Primary School “Trianemi”. He has collaborated with various classic and art music ensembles and has made various recordings. Tzempen leads a strings ensemble in North Suburbs of Athens. He is married and has two children.

Eleni Liora, viola sectional leader of ESGYO and viola teacher

Eleni was born and raised in Athens. She began her musical studies at the age of 7 with the violin at the Municipal Music School of Hellinikon. At the age of 13, and while playing in the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation’s Youth Symphonic Orchestra, she switched to the viola. In 2013, she joined the AFRATAPEM art-therapy school in France and worked as a music therapist in France and in Greece (2014-2018). Eleni has attended workshops and seminars about chamber music, musical teaching methods, african percussions and contemporary clown. During her stay in France she played the viola in the Coalescence Symphonic Orchestra. When moving back to Greece she joined the Flex String Ensemble and also collaborated with the Academica Athens Orchestra. She has also been a member of pop-rock bands (Goya’s Dream, Peachblow) as a violist, back up singer and folk guitar player. She is currently a viola teacher in El Sistema Greece and other non-profit organisations.

Vassiliki Papadopoulou, violoncello teacher

Vassiliki commenced studying violoncello with N. Kotzias at Athens Conservatoire, continued with V. Fidetzis and graduated from Hellenic Conservatory of Music and Arts, having studied with Nt. Chatzigeorgiou and holding a Degree “Excellent Unanimously”. Vassiliki holds a degree in Harmonization and a degree in Counterpoin, having studied in the class of V. Tzerachi. She has attended music and movement lessons (Orff, Dalcroze etc.) with D. Matthaiopoulou at Greek Conservatory. She has also attended music-therapy lessons (Nordoff-Robins) with M. Froudaki at the Special Education Centre “Politechno”. She has been a member of the Orchestra “Enarmonia” since 1998 and collaborates occasionally with Greek National Opera (symphonic orchestra, children’s opera, and chamber music orchestra) and ERT (symphonic orchestra and contemporary music orchestra). During 2003-2004, she collaborated with National Theatre staging the play Peer Gynt and with Carolos Koun Art Theatre for the music play The Hymn to the Gods shall go. She has also collaborated as pre-school and primary school children’s counsellor with Mariza Koch at the educational programme “Rainbow”, as well as at the educational programme for pre-school and primary school children at “Ellinogermaniki Agogi” School and “Argiri School”. Vassiliki delivers violoncello and music and movement classes since 2002. She has worked at PIKPA, Municipality Conservatory of Kalamata, kindergarten “Paichnidoparea”, kindergarten “Iliachtida”, five municipality kindergartens of Chaidari, kindergarten “Varvara Bodin”, conservatory “Mousikoi Orizontes’’, Benakeio Kindergarten at Kifissia, conservatory of “Nea Genia Ziridi” School etc. Vassiliki joined El Sistema Greece team in 2019, teaching violoncello.

Konstantina Roussou, woodwind sectional leader of ESGYO

Konstantina was born in Athens. She has graduated from Music School in Pallini and she studies at the Music Studies Department of University of Athens. She holds a Degree in Flute marked with “Excellent”. She also holds a Diploma in Flute marked with “Excellent with Honours” and was honoured with the 1st Award from Philippos Nakas Conservatory, where she also studied Flute at the post-diploma level with N. Nikopoulos. She has been awarded with Praise for her participation in “Days of Flute” and she has also been honoured with the Third Prize in the 1st Flute Contest “Urs Ruttimann”. She has been an active member in the Old Music Seminars and Baroque Flute at Philippos Nakas Conservatory during 2013-2014. She has studied flute with Carlo Jans, Robert Aitken, Carlos Bruneel, Barbara Gisler-Haase, Gaby Pas-Van Riet, Kazutaka Shimizu, MIchael Faust, Yossi Arnheim, Thies Roorda, Rien de Reede, Magali Mosnier et al. She has been a grant-holder in the 10-day flute seminar “25th Forum for Flute and Piano” in Luxemburg, in 2013. She has also been a grant-holder in “Delphi Musical Encounters-Art Campus” held by the Association “Friends of Music” in 2014. In 2014 she served as the 1st Flute in Greek Turkish Youth Orchestra touring in Turkey and Greece. Moreover, she has also been a member of the Athenian Symphonic Youth Orchestra as well as “Orchestra mobile”. She is currently a member of the Greek Symphonic Youth Orchestra and fellow of the Youth Academia of State Orchestra of Athens. She has collaborated with the State Orchestra of Athens, Greek National Opera etc. She has been collaborating with El Sistema Greece as session leader of orchestra woodwinds since 2017. She is teaching flute at Philippos Nakas Conservatory and National Conservatory (N. Makri branch).

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José Angel Salazar Marin, artistic director of ESG

José Angel, aged 21, is a rising star amongst young conductors and pedagogic leaders. Praised by the likes of The Guardian, the BBC and LA Times for his wunderkind talent, his artistic experience has been formed by the famed El Sistema as well as numerous appearances with orchestras in Europe. As an alumni of the revolutionary Venezuelan programme where he focused on music theory, orchestral conducting and special workshops, José spent several months as an exchange student of the Music Performance Program at the University of Gothenburg in Cooperation with El Sistema Sweden and Fundamusical. In his career so far, José has demonstrated excellent abilities to work with different communities, including children with special needs, children and youth at risk, and people with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While in Gothenburg, he also participated in the Dream Orchestra where he served as a guest teacher assistant and conductor. Further engagements include Assistant Conductor of Christian Vasquez for the Teresa Carreño Youth Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela or Nueva Esparta’s Youth Symphony Orchestra. Since 2017, he has been serving as Head of The String Department, Violin, Viola and Cello (Beginner) Professor and Principal Conductor for Chamber Orchestra at the Saint Lucia School of Music and for the Children’s Orchestra.

Theodosis Smyrnios, trumpet teacher

Theodosis got into the music world since an early age, learning different musical instruments (keyboards, piano, guitar, recorder, drums) either in a music school or by self taught. As a teenager, he participated in groups as a guitarist or a drummer and discovered that the most important value in music is playing with others. Before finishing school, he took trumpet lessons in the municipal marching band, where he is still a member. He continued his studies in the conservatory, along with studies in advanced music theory. Participation in big ensembles (choirs, bands, orchestras) was catalytic for his relationship with music. As a musician, he has been occupied with various genres and has performed in stages, theatres and concert houses in Greece and abroad. His first experience as a teacher was in the municipal band, teaching drums and trumpet to new members. It is when he realised the importance of initiating children to the magical world of music. He has a degree in classical trumpet, advanced music theory, wind band orchestration and conducting. As the music is a never ending journey, he continues his studies.

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Marinos Tranoudakis, brass sectional leader of ESGYO

Marinos was born in Athens Greece. He studied percussion under Konstantinos Vorissis and Konstantinos Theodorakos and then he continued his studies in Hochschule für Musik Detmold (Germany) with Peter Prommel. At the same time he studied privately timpani with Wieland Welzel Berlin Philharmonic) and Arend Weitzel (Bochumer Symphoniker). He collaborated with conductors such as Kurt Masur, Teodor Currentzis and with orchestras such as MusicAeterna (Perm Ballet Theater), Bilkent Symphony Orchestra (Ankara), NordWestDeutsche Philharmonie, Bielefelder Philharmoniker, Radio Kammerfilarmonie Netherlands, Orchestre “La Réjouissance“(Gregor Van den Boom). His is regularly partner and soloist with Detmolder Kammerorchester, and LandesTheater Detmold. He collaborated as well with Athens State Orchestra and Camerata Athens, Cyprus Symphony Orchestra, Thessaloniki State Orchestra as a Soloist (November 2017) and he has been a member of the Greek modern music ensemble. He has been assistant professor for timpani and orchestra repertoire in Hochschule für Musik Detmold where he still gives timpani Masterclasses. He has recorded for labels such as ‘’Sony Classics’’ ,‘’Naxos” and “Irida classical”. From July 2014 until March 2017 he was holding the co-principal percussion and timpani position in Greek National Radio Symphony Orchestra. Since April 2017 he is Principal Timpanist of the National Opera of Greece.

Panayiotis Tsirides, pedagogical coordinator

Panayiotis was born in Limmasol of Cyprus in 1967 and he has lived in Athens since 1974. He studied music and consulting psychology and he works as a music pedagogue in primary schools. He collaborated with Athens University as a collaborator specialized in intercultural education. As a lecturer, he participated in several conferences and seminars for teachers and educators and he wrote many articles about art and education. Panayiotis plans educational programs for cultural fields and he is the leader of the team “Logou Paignion”. Since 2017 he has been the pedagogical coordinator of El Sistema Greece.  He wrote plays for children and adults. In addition, his books for children have been published by Patakis and Psichogios publishers.

From the backstage…

Co-founders: Anis Barnat and Elisa Sologni

General Manager: Dimitra Raftopoulou

Orchestra Manager/ Instrument Manager: Adriana Grigoriou

Choir Manager/ Hospitality: Angeliki Georgokosta

Community Coordinator: Shwan Haso

 Communications Manager: Sevi Matsakidou

International Communications Consultant: Alexandra Strelcova

Pedagogy branch

Artistic Director of El Sistema Greece: José Angel Salazar Marin

Principal ESGYO conductor: Safira Antzus Ramos

Educational Coordinator: Panayiotis Tsirides

Music Advisor: Antigoni Keretzi

Music Advisor: Tzempen Klapakis