Meet Stelios Kontakiotis

kontakiotisStelios Kontakiotis, principal soloist

Stelios Kontakiotis is protopsaltis (first chanter) of the Holy Temple of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary on the sacred island of Tinos, Greece, one of the most prominent pilgrimage sites in Greece.

Mr. Kontakiotis was born in Athens and grew up on the island of Amorgos (Cyclades-Greece). He began his studies in Byzantine Music at the Conservatory of Athens with Mr. Lazarus Kouzinopoulos and the late Spyros Peristeris as his teachers, on a scholarship from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Greece. In 1994 he took his first degree in Chanting from the Conservatory of Athens, and in 2000 his Diploma in Byzantine Music from the National Conservatory of Greece.

He has served as a professional chanter since 1992 in the churches of Saint George (Palaio Iraklio), Nativity of Christ (Paiania) and Holy Trinity (Ambelokipoi) in Greater Athens. He also founded and conducted the Byzantine Music Choir, consisting of young adults, which performed in many concerts and services throughout the greater Athens area.

During the years 1990-2000, he took classical voice lessons and he joined the National Radio Choir (ERT) as a tenor. With the ERT Choir he took part in numerous operas, oratorios, and concerts throughout Greece and Europe. He also participated in other choirs and vocal ensembles such as the choir of The Athens Megaron concert hall in Athens, Emmeleia choir of Athens, the vocal ensemble Polyfonia of Athens, and the choir of Leivadeia.

In 2000,  he was appointed to the position of Protopsaltis (first chanter) and Choir Director at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC, where he served until 2008 when he auditioned for and was awarded his current post at Tinos.
During his stay in the USA he gave lectures, master-classes and performed at concerts with the Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral Choir as well as chanting at Eastern Orthodox religious services and concerts in the Washington-Metro area, in churches and at venues such as Catholic University, the US Capitol, the Smithsonian Institution and the Greek Embassy. He also gave the first Byzantine music concert at Duke University Chapel in 2004.

From 2000 to 2006 he collaborated with the Romeiko Ensemble chanting in religious services, concerts, and CD recordings.
Mr. Kontakiotis founded and still leads the Byzantine Choir of the Metropolis of Syros on the island of Tinos.  He is also a member of the ensemble “MELIDRON” performing a varied repertory ranging from East to West, balanced between traditional and modern, old folk music and new.

His voice can be heard in songs in animated films translated into Greek from the English original, such as The Prince of Egypt (DreamWorks), Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and Pocahontas (Disney). He also recorded the male voice for the Rosetta Stone Greek Language Learning Software.

Since 2006 he has collaborated with Cappella Romana as principal soloist in concerts throughout the United States and Europe, appearing also as principal soloist on Cappella Romana’s recording of medieval Byzantine chant from St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mt. Sinai.