The Greek Music Ensemble’s major musical projects are part of the broader Greek World Music Genre. They are projects that the group has conceived and performed during the past few years. The music is all compiled, transcribed and arranged by us for various types of ensemble configurations, based upon content and style. Most of it is music and songs from the vast Greek Art and Folk music repertoire, presented in our own unique way and based upon our understanding and interpretation of Greek music and culture.
MUSICAL ODYSSEY I: GREEK TRADITIONAL AND FOLK MUSIC
This project includes music from the Greek folk tradition, from the regions of Macedonia, Thrace, Pontos, the Aegean islands, Peloponese, Asia Minor and other places. In performances, a variety of Greek and Middle-Eastern instruments are being used.
Although Greek traditional music consists of several autonomous regional styles, it can also be divided into three major stylistic areas: the mainland, the islands and Asia Minor. A further division may include urban and rural musics.
In this project we also try to trace the cross-fertilization process found in and between the different regions.
MUSICAL ODYSSEY II: NOSTOS
Nostos includes a variety of Greek traditional, folk, urban, contemporary, and Art Music in a musical journey, a short odyssey, that employs both music and imagery.
Songs in this project have been composed during the past 200 years and their common theme that has inspired generations of immigrant Greeks around the world for the past two centuries, is Nostos.
The concept of nostos is not easily translated in other languages. Nostos in Greek is found in Homer’s works like the Odyssey, and it stands for the unappeased yearning to return to the home country; it is Odysseus’ eternal longing to touch the soil of Ithaca. The word “nostalgia” has its origin in nostos. Nostos has been a distinct and rich source of inspiration and artistic creation for Greeks.
The Greek Music Ensemble in this project performs selected genres of Greek music from all different regions of Greece dedicated to nostos and "xenitia" (living as a stranger in a foreign land). Songs that narrate the nostalgia for the homeland, the joys and sorrows of life in a foreign land, the grief of separation, and the emotional ingredients that make up the fabric of the immigrant psyche.
MUSICAL ODYSSEY III: MANOS AND MIKIS
The concept of this project is the representation of the powerful relationship between Greek Art Music of the 20th century and Greek poetry of the past two centuries, and is dedicated to Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hadjidakis, the two central figures of Greek Art Music. They both successfully married poetry with music for more than 50 years, creating an aesthetic product of high artistic and emotional value.
Manos and Mikis wrote music that carried the feelings, hopes, aspirations and troubles of an entire generation in a small country that had just gone through WWII, a civil war and a dictatorship - 35 dark years that had established a repressive state apparatus of terror, and persecution. In those dark times their artful musical creations were not simply an escape, they embodied, instead, the yearning of an entire people. They sung a society that was seeking inspiration, freedom, a society that became deeply in love with freedom, and they mobilized and rallied people to struggle for social justice and democracy.
MUSICAL ODYSSEY IV: TRIBUTE TO VASILIS TSITSANIS
This project is dedicated to the music of Vasilis Tsitsanis, a seminal figure in the rembetiko and the laiko, two interconnected genres of Greek urban music.
Rembetiko has often been called the “Greek Blues” because its history and development share many common characteristics with the American blues.
Tsitsanis, who was also a virtouoso bouzouki player, is the composer who succeeded in taking rembetiko out of a decades old, mostly “subculture” status and gave it its place in the Greek music landscape as we know it today. That is, he gave rembetiko a new poetic and musical form and situated it in the new social and political reality of Greece after the second world war.
MUSICAL ODYSSEY V: MUSICA POETICA
Musica Poetica is a unique project. It is a fascinating musical journey that extends into almost twenty centuries; a journey into Greek poetry and music from the ancient times to the present day. The oldest “song” of the program dates back to the first century A.D., and the newest song was composed only a few months ago.
In this project, we attempt to trace a part of the cultural history of our land, Greece, as it is embodied through poetry set to music. We also try to trace the common thread that weaves through the Greek poetic and musical tradition through the ages.
This line links, in both abstract and concrete ways, ancient Greek poetry and music to the byzantine musical heritage, to the Greek folk tradition of the 18th and 19th centuries, to the urban poetic and musical styles (like rembetiko) developed in the first half of the 20th century, to the beautiful poetry and Art Music written by important Greek poets and composers of the past century.
MANOS AND MIKIS
Tribute Concert to Manos Hadjidakis and Mikis Theodorakis