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Music grad awarded Medal of the National Assembly of Quebec

Dimitris Ilias shares his passion for music with the next generation
August 11, 2021
By Marco Buttice, BA 21

Dimitris Ilias conducts a childrens' choir Opera singer Dimitris Ilias, BFA 92, GrDip 99, co-founded Chroma Musika with his spouse in 1999. Part of the organization's program offerings include a voice workshop that provides children with the opportunity to sing with a full orchestra.

Opera singers Dimitris Ilias, BFA (music) 92, GrDip 99, and his wife Maria Diamantis were among the 2021 recipients of the Medal of the National Assembly of Quebec. The awards were presented in May 2021 in recognition of the couple's work promoting music to children, families and the wider community in Quebec.

Ilias and Diamantis share their passion for music through Chroma Musika, an organization they co-founded in 1999. As co-artistic directors, they produce numerous concerts, seminars and recordings ranging from ancient Greek music to works by contemporary Canadian and Hellenic composers.

“I’m extremely honoured to have received this award,” says Ilias, a Greek Canadian. “It coincided with the 200th anniversary of Greece being released from the Ottoman Empire, so it really celebrates what we have done for the community.”

Guy Ouellette (left), member of the National Assembly of Quebec for Chomedy, presents Dimitris Ilias with the Medal of the National Assembly of Quebec.

Kids get to sing with full orchestra

Among Chroma Musika's educational programs is a voice workshop that gives hundreds of kids from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to sing accompanied by a full symphonic orchestra — and record an album. The project also includes the production of a children’s book with the accompanying CD.

“The children not only get to experience vocal training, but they receive a crash course in sound theory and how all the software works,” says Ilias. “Some of them have never even heard an orchestra, so it is a dream come true for us to allow them the opportunity to sing with one.”

The workshops have proven wildly popular in both Greece and Canada.

“Our first project had 22 children and now they can include up to 450,” Ilias says. “After each production is completed, we hold a big gala for the kids to celebrate their achievement as co-creators of the art.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought their work to a halt, Ilias and Diamantis look forward to continuing their next project in the coming months.

Two-time Concordia alumnus

For Ilias, an undying love for music began in his youth, yet his studies at Concordia’s Department of Music kickstarted his professional career and introduced him to the fundamentals of music production.

“Because the department is smaller, I had a lot more freedom,” he explains. “There was a lot more flexibility to explore whatever avenue I wished.”

While at Concordia, Ilias met legendary Canadian musician Christopher Jackson, former dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, and became a friend and collaborator with music department chair Mark Corwin, who later helped produce Chroma Musika’s children’s books.

One of Ilias’s fondest memories of being a student at Concordia is singing a solo at the 1990 inauguration of the university’s Oscar Peterson Concert Hall, where he continues to direct productions through his organization. “It’s almost my second home,” he says of the venue on Loyola Campus.

Earning his undergraduate degree in 1992, Ilias returned to complete a graduate diploma in advanced music performance in 1999.

Ilias encourages today’s music students to get involved: “Use the university to your fullest capability — and doors will open more easily.”

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