The first Jazz on the Hill – a three-day programme of jazz music - was staged at the Sani Resort back in 1992. At that point there was as yet no festival, just a handful of concerts born of the organizers’ passion for jazz.

Today, 23 years on, Jazz on the Hill is the trademark event of the Sani Festival. The unique three-day tribute to ‘black’ music has played host to living legends of world jazz, often making their first ever appearance in Greece: Jan Garbarek in 1995, Cassandra Wilson in 1998 and 2013, Dee Dee Bridgewater in 2000, Chico Freeman in 2003, and Charlie Haden in 2005.


This part of the festival, introduced in 2006, is dedicated to world music and demonstrates how the Sani Festival has evolved and enriched its programme, reaching out to different audiences and exposing them to the best of music from around the globe.

After numerous successful concerts and exclusive performances in the field of ethnic music – including appearances by Cesaria Evoria, Tito Puente, Dulce Pontes, Lila Downs, Teofilo Chandre, Petru Guelfucci and Eliades Ochoa – the organizers felt the need to establish a separate thematic unit to focus on this fascinating area of music, complementing the festival’s international programme. And so the three-day programme, Sounds of the World, became a regular fixture in the festival.


In its 18th year, summer 2009, the Sani Festival introduced a new section, intended to remain as a permanent part of the programme alongside the other events. In the past, before this, the festival had flirted with cinema, organizing the first cine-concert as part of the Jazz on the Hill programme, which involved a screening of a documentary on the life of the musician Abdullah Ibrahim, to precede a concert by the man himself. All that was lacking now was the suitable occasion to link music and cinema more formally, and this was found in the person of the renowned French composer Michel Legrand: films featuring his music were screened, and followed by a concert by Legrand himself with his trio and the pop legend Alison Moyet, performing some of his greatest hits.


Since 1993 a long list of prominent Greek musicians have come to Sani, leaving something of their aura and charisma in the atmosphere of the place: Stavros Xarhakos, Eleni Karaindrou, Giorgos Dalaras, Alkistis Protopsalti, Haroula Alexiou, Loukianos Kelaidonis, Dimitra Galani, Dionysis Savvopoulos, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Yannis Kotsiras – to name just a few of the great names of Greek music who have brought their talent and inspiration to the Greek music programme of the Sani Festival. These Greek concerts have enjoyed enormous success, popular with the public, the media and the musicians themselves, who have been proud to honour with their presence what is now one of the best-established and most revered events in the Greek cultural calendar.


Following the success of Sani Classic, the programme dedicated to classical music, which for a number of years provided a showcase for talented young Greek musicians, classical music was once again heard last year on Sani Hill. And once again major orchestras, small ensembles and individual artists joining forces for the occasion will be presenting concerts of classical music to delighted audiences.


The Sani Festival has long embraced the seventh art, offering audiences a unique cinephile experience at the Sani summer cinema. The emphasis has been on themed programmes, and we have forged links with established film festivals: in 2013 the Sani Festival featured a two-day tribute screening of the best, internationally award-winning short films from the Thessaloniki International Short Film Festival.


This is a thematic unit designed to showcase youthful musical ambition, at a time when there is an urgent need for young people to find means and opportunities for artistic expression. The idea is to provide a stage on which they can perform and help them to find an audience.


Sani Festival’s new Avant Garde Theatre programme is our response to the need to fill a gap in the area of contemporary theatrical production, and to cater to a public interest in new developments in the theatre. The intention is primarily to showcase and support new theatrical companies and highlight contemporary approaches to writing, directing and acting.

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