New York.- By Vicki James Yiannias
Starting out with a bang and not a whimper, The Street Orchestraʼs rendition of Mr. Panayotis Kalantzopoulosʼs composition “One Minute Kiss” vibrated the sky-high glass window wall of The Allen Room at Lincoln Center as the streetlights on the street below clicked on, signaling nightfall, on Monday, June 22.
“This was one of the most spacious settings Iʼve ever seen,” Mr. Kalantzopoulos told the GreekNews, “Itʼs as if the window is a huge projection screen…but it isnʼt an illusion, itʼs life itself…the life of the city is the backdrop. Since we think of ourselves as The Street Orchestra, we were in our natural setting. Itʼs as if we were almost playing in the street, in Columbus Circle”
“One Minute Kiss” was just the beginning of a one and a half hour concert of compositions that swung from wild to tender but usually ended up wild, by famous Greek composer-performers Evanthia Reboutsika and Panayotis Kalantzopoulos that rocked US audiences for the first time in a free concert presented by the Onassis Foundation (USA).
Many of the selections were award winning film music. Each of the composer-performers has written a long series of feature film scores, popular and critically acclaimed albums, and in the case of Kalantzopoulos, music for documentaries, television series, and theatrical plays, as well.
Ms. Reboutsika on violin, Mr. Kalantzopoulos on various instruments, and special guest singer Elly Paspala, were accompanied by The Street Orchestra, Panos Dimitrakopoulos (kanonaki), Pantelis Stoikou (trumpet and kaval), Andreas Symvolopoulos, who also wrote one of the songs performed, (keyboards, piano, accordion and percussion), Fergus Alexander Currie (double bass), and Panagiotis Kanellos (drums).
Ms. Reboutsika is best known for her award-winning music, which has been called “an extraordinary merger of Mediterranean sounds, East and West”, in the Greek films, Touch of Spice (Politiki Kouzina), The Voice of the Aegean (Foni Aigaiou) and the Turkish film, My Father and Son (Babam Ve Oglum). Asked by the GreekNews what she wants her listeners to feel when they hear her surging, sometimes heartbreaking melodies, Ms. Reboutsika said, “I hope theyʼll feel what I feel many times when Iʼm writing music or when Iʼm on the set…a communication with them. I travel within stories and within life events so that there will be a sort of bond between us. I donʼt see music, and particularly the music that accompanies a scene, like a wall that separates us, rather I want the music to engulf the listener so that there is communication and bonding.”
Ms. Reboutsika spent much time in the cinema, her fatherʼs theater In Kato Achaia, near Patra. Answering the question of whether she was Intrigued by movie scores at that time, she said, “Always. Because I grew up surrounded by music. My father was also a Byzantine chanter. The cinema opened my eyes. I used to sit up in the projection booth with my father. And my three siblings and I would do our own theater, we would reconstruct scenes from movies and pretend that we were doing the music. I could have been an actor, a dancer, a director…anything having to do with the cinema, but because I played the violin, and my siblings and I played a lot of music together – we were a quartet – thatʼs what
I was very much drawn to in my life.”
Panayotis Kalantzopoulos, who has worked with Manos Hadjidakis, an important influence on his music, and written award-winning music for the films Peppermint, and Uranya, sees himself as having various identities, various faces. “The Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa, says of himself that he is heteronymous. I wish I could do the same, but itʼs too late. I wish I had started at a younger age expressing different sides of myself.
Kalantzopoulos noted that his songs, ʽI Canʼt Fall In Love Anymoreʼ, and ʽSummertime in Pragueʼ “have an Italian feel to them,” while his present compositions have the sound of Jewish wedding music. “There must be something in my DNA. because Iʼm Sephardic from my motherʼs side. Although I never consciously studied this kind of music, it crept into my music from my DNA, I suppose. These things, like the character of your music, are not something you decide. They are just a part of you….thatʼs the way things are,” said the composer.
New York-born Elly Paspala, has collaborated with Greece’s most illustrious composers, one being Manos Hadjidakis, and with Panayotis Kalantzopoulos for approximately ten years. The three artists, Reboutsika, Kalantzopoulos, and Paspala have performed together intermittently since 2001.
Ms. Paspala describes the music of Reboutsika as being very different from the music of Kalantzopoulos. “Each of them has an individual sound. Evanthiaʼs music is very lyrical, with an eastern tinge to it. Itʼs based on melody; her arrangements and her use of the kanoni and the politiki lyra are very distinctive. Panayotiʼs approach has a great deal to do with form. You get a sense of the structure of the piece. Although they approach composition very differently, the end result is very similar in that they both elicit an emotional response. And I think thatʼs what theyʼre going after.”
“Performances in New York donʼt come around very frequently,” said Ms. Paspala, “It was a wonderful venue, and I felt that the audience responded very enthusiastically and very warmly, so it was a very satisfying experience.”
The musical collaborations of Evanthia Reboutsika and Panayotis Kalantzopoulos, who first collaborated in 1992, include the albums At The Lake With The Poppies and Guilty Innocent.
Ms. Reboutsika has been honored with the “World Soundtrack Discovery Award 2006” of the World Soundtrack Academy of Belgium and the “Soundtrack of the Year” award from the University of Vosporos. The Film Festival in Salonika has twice honored Panayiotis Kalantzopoulos with the State Prize, and Ms. Paspalaʼs 1993 album Elly Paspala at Megaron Mousikis was the renowned vocalistʼs breakthrough as a solo performer.
Panos Dimitrakopoulos, kanonaki, whose engrossing performance on that instrument is rich and penetrating, has been playing kanonaki since he was one year old. He has collaborated with major Greek folk musicians including Dora Stratou, Chronis Aidonidis, and N. Saragoudas as well as George Dalaras, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, and Nikos Xydakis.
Pantelis Stoikou, trumpet and kaval, was introduced to music by the Valkanis Brothers of the legendary Florina Brass Band, a musical institution in northern Greece.
Andreas Symvolopoulos, keyboards, piano, accordion, and percussion, is one of the most celebrated piano virtuosos in Greece.
Fergus Alexander Currie, double bass, has won numerous prizes for composition and as a musical director has conducted a diverse range of ensembles from big bands to the Slovak Philharmonic.
Panagiotis Kanellos, drums, has participated in recordings and concerts with a number of prominent musicians. He is a founding member of the band Mode Plagal, performing in numerous festivals and venues throughout the world.