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An Musical Journey to Undiscovered Greece during the Thessaly Chamber Music Festival

Departure:    June 14 – 24, 2019


The ancient Greeks believed that music was a gift of the gods and music played a most important role in their everyday life.  They began to study music as early as the 6th century BC, and music comprised a main field of one’s education.  In fact, the word music comes from Muses, the nine mythological daughters of Zeus and patron goddesses of the arts and learning.

This program combines the exploration of a beautiful and interesting part of Greece that remains “undiscovered” by tourists, with concerts of superb classical music performed at different venues, some of which are of significant historical and archaeological importance.  As its name implies, the Thessaly Chamber Music Festival takes place in Thessaly, in central Greece.

Why Travel with Thalassa Journeys

Thalassa Journeys was established by the principals and managers of Travel Dynamics, the company that 50 years ago pioneered the concept of educational travel for America’s educational and cultural institutions. The belief that travel is primarily a learning experience forms the core principle of Thalassa Journeys.

Each Thalassa Journey is constructed around a particular theme. Unlike most tours, each of our journeys are intimate, and led by lecturers who are truly subject-matter experts for each theme. Although many other companies claim to have expert lecturers, few truly have accomplished, renowned experts in their fields, like Thalassa.


Day 1 : Depart THE USA

Fly from the U.S. to Thessaloniki, Greece.


Meals Included


Arrive in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, named after the half-sister of Alexander the Great. Upon arrival, transfer to Larissa, Thessaly’s vibrant capital and main city. Check-in at the Hotel Divani, conveniently located in the center of the city. Welcome dinner this evening at a local restaurant.


Meals Included

Day 3 : Tour LARISSA

Located in central Greece, Thessaly is one of the country’s most interesting areas, yet it mostly remains beyond its usual tourist destinations. Strabo, the ancient geographer and historian, called it, "a country most blessed." In the morning, visit the superb Diachronic Museum, whose exhibits of artifacts chronicle the history of Larissa and Thessaly from the Paleolithic period to the late Byzantine era, a span of about 10,000 years. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure and dinner at a local taverna. Concert: In the evening, attend the opening concert of the Thessaly Chamber Music Festival.


Meals Included


Leave Larissa in the morning for Meteora (“monasteries in midair”), one of the most extraordinary sites in Greece and in all Europe. Rising from Thessaly’s valley are gigantic rocks on top of which are monasteries built by hermits some 600 years ago. At this UNESCO World Heritage Site, we will visit the monastery of St. Varlaam, originally founded in the 14th century, which is covered with fine frescoes. After lunch, return to Larissa for dinner and a concert at Larissa’s Folklore Museum.


Meals Included


The undulating hills north of Larissa have been known for their vineyards and wine production since antiquity. Leave Larissa in the morning to visit one of the area's premier wineries to taste the wines and enjoy lunch in the country. Continue to Dion, a cult center in antiquity, now an important and evocative archaeological site. Situated on the foothills of Mount Olympus, Dion was a sacred city dedicated to Zeus. The city became prominent in the 4th century BC under Philip II and his son Alexander the Great. Explore the site, including the museum, which houses an extensive superb mosaic, among other objects. Dinner will be served at a local taverna. Return to the hotel after the concert held at the Dion’s Archaeological Museum.


Meals Included

Day 6 : Tour LARISSA/PORTARIA, Pelion

Drive from Larissa to Pelion, one of Greece’s most characteristic and unspoiled areas, stopping on the way for lunch. As in antiquity, thick forests of chestnut, oak, beech olive and fruit orchards cover the slopes of Pelion’s massif. The profusion of vegetation, the magnificent scenery, the surrounding blue sea, the villages with the preserved architecture, and the friendly and hospitable people make Pelion one of the most beautiful and welcoming places in Greece. Our home in Pelion will be the boutique Hotel Despotiko, located in the charming village of Portaria. The views of the surrounding countryside, the city of Volos and the blue waters of the Pagasitic Gulf are memorable. Enjoy dinner, followed by a concert at a terrace overlooking the surrounding hills.


Meals Included


Leave the hotel to drive the scenic forested road to the village of Kissos. Visit the old church of Aghia Marina, whose interior is entirely covered in exquisite frescoes. Continue to Tsangarada, one of Pelion’s most characteristic villages, and then drive the short distance to the Aegean Sea coast, where we will enjoy lunch at a sea-side taverna. Free time will also be available at this lovely spot, where, weather permitting, you may enjoy swimming. Return to Kissos for a concert in the church of Aghia Marina, followed by dinner.


Meals Included


Situated at the head of a spacious bay, Volos, Thessaly's main port city, occuies the site of Bronze Age Iolcos, the home of Jason, and the place from which he led the Argonauts in quest of the fabled Golden Fleece. A replica of the Argo, the boat of Jason and the Argonauts, is moored in Volos' harbor. Drive in the morning to Volos and then on to Dimini, one of the most important Neolithic settlements in Greece. Settled around 5000 BC, Dimini's excavated houses, workshops and narrow streets give a vivid picture of a Neolithic village. After lunch at a characteristic eatery, visit the superb Archaeological Museum of Volos. Following the museum visit, we will continue to the headquarters of the Lyceum of the Women of Volos, an educational and philanthropic institution, where we will be hosted by its officers. The Lyceum’s neoclassical building includes a collection of traditional costumes. Enjoy dinner in Volos followed by a concert at the Volos Conservatory.


Meals Included


Cruise in the morning on a privately chartered boat the Pagasitic Gulf, the great waterway that borders Pelion’s west shore. Sail first to the uninhabited islet of Prasouda, whose crystal clear waters invite swimming. Then on to Paleo Trikeri, a small island near the mouth of the gulf, where motor traffic is not allowed. This idyllic isle is known for its sea food, which we will enjoy during lunch at a restaurant facing the bay. Return to the hotel in the afternoon.


Meals Included


Spend the morning at leisure to explore Portaria on your own. In the afternoon, drive to nearby Makrinitsa, one of Pelion’s most striking villages. Built on the side of a hill near Portaria, Makrinitsa is known as“Pelion’s balcony” on account of its superb position that opens up to wide vistas. Explore this delightful place and then attend the closing concert of the Thessaly Chamber Music Festival in Portaria’s church of Aghios Nikolaos. Following the concert, there will be a farewell dinner.


Meals Included


Transfer to the airport in Thessaloniki for the flight home.


Meals Included

Tour Price

$4,990 per person, double occupancy

Single room supplement: $690

Journey Extension

Pre Journey Extensions

In conjunction with Musical Journey to the Land of the Gods, there will be the following optional extension: two-night pre-trip extension to Thessaloniki. A highlight of the extension is a tour of Thessaloniki, including some of the city’s most magnificent early Christian churches and the National Archaeological Museum. Price: $585 per person, double occupancy. Single supplement: $ 210

Post Journey Extensions

In conjunction with Musical Journey to the Land of the Gods, there will be the following optional extension: three-night post-trip extension in Athens. Highlights of the extension are tours of the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum with the afternoon at leisure, and the following day, a morning tour of the ancient Agora, again with the afternoon at leisure. Price: $ 1,060 per person, double occupancy. Single supplement: $ 330



Violinist/violist Ida Kavafian

Ida Kavafian just completed her 33rd year as artistic director of Music from Angel Fire, the renowned festival in New Mexico. She recently received the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, in recognition of her outstanding work with Curtis students. In addition to her teaching and solo engagements,she continues to perform with her piano quartet, OPUS ONE, and her most recent ensemble,Trio Valtorna. She has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 1972.

Violinist Daniel Phillips

Daniel Phillips is a founding member of the 30-year-old Orion String Quartet, which is in residence at Mannes College of Music and performs regularly at the ChamberMusic Society. He has performed as a soloist with many orchestras, and appears regularly at the Spoleto USA Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and Chamber Music Northwest, among others. He was a member of the renowned Bach Aria Group and has toured and recorded in a string quartet for SONY with Gidon Kremer, Kim Kashkashian, and Yo-Yo Ma. He is a professor at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College and on the faculties of Bard College Conservatory, and The Juilliard School.

Violinist Cathy Meng Robinson

Cathy Meng Robinson is a founding member of the Miami String Quartet and has performed extensively with the quartet throughout the United States and Europe.The quartet serves as quartet-in-residence at Kent State University and performs at many of the country’s top summer music festivals including Angel Fire, Santa Fe, Blossom, Bravo!Vail, Music from Menlo, and Chamber Music Northwest. She received her Bachelor of Music Degree from the Curtis Institute of Music where she studied with Ivan Galamian and David Cerone and received her Master’s Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she studied with Isadore Tinkleman. Her violin is a Nicholas Gagliano, made in 1732.

Violist Steven Tenenbom

Steven Tenenbom has enjoyed an extensive career as soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. He is the violist of the Orion String Quartet, the quartet-in-residence at Mannes College of Music and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. He has appeared as a guest artist with the Guarneri and Emerson string quartets, and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson and Beaux Arts trios. He is also a co-founder of the piano quartet OPUS ONE and is a member of the viola faculty of The Juilliard School and Bard College Conservatory of Music. Among his many recordings are the complete Beethoven and Kirchner quartets with the Orion Quartet and Mozart viola quintets with the Guarneri Quartet.

Cellist Keith Robinson

Keith Robinson is a founding member of the Miami String Quartet and has been active as a chamber musician, recitalist, and soloist since his graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music. His most recent recording, released on Blue Griffin Records with pianist Donna Lee, features Mendelssohn’s complete works for cello and piano. As a member of the Miami String Quartet, he has recorded for the BMG, CRI, Musical Heritage Society, and Pyramid recording labels, was a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two program, and won the Concert Artists Guild, London String Quartet, and Fischoff chamber music competitions. He plays a Carlo Tononi cello made in Venice and dated 1725.

Flautist Tara Helen O’Connor

Tara Helen O’Connor is an Avery Fisher Career Grant winner and a two-time Grammy nominee. She regularly appears at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Music@Menlo, the Chamber Music Festival of the Bluegrass, Spoleto USA, Chamber Music Northwest, and Mainly Mozart Festival, among others. She has premiered hundreds of new works and has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, EMI Classics, Koch International, CMS Studio Recordings with the Chamber Music Society, and Bridge Records. She is associate professor of flute and head of the wind department at Purchase College Conservatory of Music. Additionally, she is on the faculty of Bard College Conservatory and is a visiting artist, teacher, and coach at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Pianist William Hobbs

William Hobbs has appeared as recitalist, soloist with orchestras and collaborative pianist with ensembles and singers throughout Europe, Asia and America. As pianist and conductor, Mr. Hobbs has worked at many of the world’s major opera houses, including the Opéra National de Paris, the Salzburg Festival, the San Francisco, Chicago Lyric, Seattle, and Washington operas. He has premiered works by many prominent American composers and joined the Piano and Voice Faculty at Westminster Choir College in 2010 and the Faculty of The Juilliard School in 2014. He was recently given the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Colorado in Boulder in recognition of his substantial and varied accomplishments in the field of music.

Artistic Director Lowell Liebermann

Lowell Liebermann has written over 130 works in all genres and he has received commissions by a wide array of en- sembles and instrumentalists, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Emerson Quartet, London’s Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo. Mr. Liebermann has served as Composer-in-residence at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and with the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, among others. He is the head of the Mannes School of Music’s Composition Department and he also maintains an active performing schedule as pianist and conductor. Among his many awards are a Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the first winner of the Van Cliburn In- vitational Composers Competition, and in 2014, he became the inaugural recipient of the Virgil Thomson Award for vocal composition.