Nikolaos (Nicola) Lavdas (Pitrofos, Andros, Greece, 1879 – Athens, Greece, 1940) was a Greek conductor, composer and educator and the founder and director of the “Athenean Mandolinata”, one of the oldest music associations and music schools in Greece in 1896, formed originally by a mandolin quartet (2 mandolins, mandola, guitar).
Four years later he formed an ensemble made up of 20 musicians and gave his first concert in the “Parnassus” hall in Athens on May the 26th, 1900. The success of this appearance led to the formal establishment of the “Athenean Mandolinata”, and by 1901 the Mandolinata had its own conservatory, teaching various instruments (mandolin, guitar, violin, cello, flute), vocal music and music theory. As the director of the “Athenean Mandolinata” orchestra, Nikolaos Lavdas conducted the orchestra in the interim Olympic Games of Athens (1906), for the king of Italy Vittorio Emmanuele (1907) and for Kaiser Wilhelm in Corfu’s “Achilleion” (1910). The orchestra started performing abroad, too, with appearances in Cairo and Alexandria (1907), Smyrna (1908), New York (1912).
One of the happiest moments for the orchestra and its conductor was in 1910, when they received the first prize in Cremona, competing among 32 ensembles from all over Europe, and Nikolaos Lavdas received the first prize for conducting.
The outbreak of WWII and the death of Nikolaos Lavdas in 1940 resulted in the dissolution of the orchestra and the conservatory. After the death of N.Lavdas, the archive and repertoire of the Mandolinata was kept by N. Lavdas’ nephew and student, composer, musicologist and critic, Antonios K. Lavdas.
The idea of the revival of the Mandolinata was close to his heart, but was never materialized, mainly for the lack of the appropriate collaborators, until the Athenean Quintet “Dimitris Dounis” under the direction of Giorgos Goumenakis became the core of this revival, in 2010, under the aegis of the Parnassos Literary Society of Athens (founded in 1865). The connections of Parnassos with the Athenian Mandolinata go back to 1900, when the first public appearance of the orchestra took place in the Parnassos concert hall – one of many to follow in that same hall. In addition, the president of the Parnassos society during the 1910’s, writer Hippocrates Karavias, was also president of the Mandolinata during the same period.
Giorgos Goumenakis is a classical mandolinist from Greece. He graduated from ‘‘G. Verdi’’ Conservatory in Milan, Italy, where he studied under the instruction of Professor Ugo Orlandi.
He is the founder of the Athens Quintet ‘‘Dimitris Dounis’’ and has reinstituted the Athens Mandolinata ‘‘Nikolaos Lavdas’’, performing with them across Greece and in Italy.
He concertizes and records as a soloist & orchestral musician with various orchestras & ensembles such as the Athens State Orchestra, The National Radio Orchestra of Greece, the Orchestra of Colors, the Armonia Atenea, the National Opera Orchestra of Greece, the Athens Youth Sinfonietta, among others and he has appeared in international festivals in Greece, Italy, France, Germany, Turkey, Albania and Croatia.
Under the baton of Claudio Scimone, he has performed with the Solisti Veneti in Veneto Festival on the occasion of the World Music Day, as well as at the Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza, recording R. Drigo’s serenade from the ballet “I milioni d’ Arlecchini”.
In duo with pianist Stavro Kollia, they perform an original repertory for mandolin and piano.
He teaches mandolin at ‘‘Orfeio’’ Athens Conservatory of Music.