Delegates will be welcomed to the first edition of WOMEX in Southeastern Europe with an Opening Concert at Megaro on Wednesday 17th October at 20:00.
The special WOMEX Gala Edition, My Sweet Canary - A Tribute to the Life of Legendary Singer Roza Eskenazi
My Sweet Canary Ensemble (Greece/Turkey/Israel) - Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonico (Greece) - Apsilies (Greece)
Roza Eskenazi sang the way she lived: with passion, fire and love. She was the "queen of rembetiko" in the early 20th century, famous in Greece and Turkey ˆ the first true "star" of rembetiko. She was born in Istanbul to a Sephardic family in the last years of the 19th century. During her early childhood they moved to Thessaloniki, still part of the Ottoman Empire but soon to be part of the Greek national state. Roza's rise to fame began in the late 1920s, after she was discovered at a club in Piraeus by composer and director of Columbia records in Greece, Panagiotis Toundas. At the height of her career, during the 1930s, Roza recorded 40 songs each year, in different musical styles (rembetiko, Greek and Turkish folk songs, island songs, etc.), and performed not only in Greece, but also in Turkey, Albania, Egypt and eventually, in the United States. She sang in Greek, Turkish, Armenian and Ladino.
Rembetiko, the "Greek blues", is a musical genre that lies at the crossroads of East and West, an apt reflection of the region into which it was born. It evolved from the music that the refugees from Asia Minor brought with them to Greece in the 1920s and first emerged in the hash-dens and prisons of the harbour cities of Thessaloniki and Piraeus. It went on to give voice to the misery of the victims of the great "population exchange" between what had become Turkey and Greece. It was part of an underground subculture, on the verge of legality, a strong Eastern-sounding contrast to the West-oriented music cafes where tango and waltzes were played for the bourgeoisie. The original rembetiko started to decline after World War II, but even though that world has vanished, its reminiscent spirit lingers in the songs that are interpreted with great passion until today. An intriguing characteristic of the general song repertoire of that time is that successful songs were often adopted and adapted by the different ethnic groups and styles; and so you will find recordings of different versions of the same song in Turkish, Greek and Ladino.
Thessaloniki, a 2300-year old city with a fascinating multicultural past and present, has been the breeding ground not only for rembetiko, but also in recent years for many an independent artist and has brought forth musicians with genuine individuality. It was the city in which Roza's career was born. That is why presenting the show here is so fitting. By bringing to you the work of Rosa Eskenazi, as well as by presenting you with fine examples of her musical heirs, it highlights this great city's tradition of combining its multi-cultural background with artistic refinement and independence.
+++ My Sweet Canary Ensemble (Greece/Turkey/Israel)
The concert ensemble My Sweet Canary was founded in 2010 during the production of the documentary film of the same name, a musical and cinematic journey through the life and music of Roza Eskenazi, directed and produced by Roy Sher (Israel). The original My Sweet Canary tribute concert to Roza Eskenazi was conceived as the musical climax of the film and was based on a very simple idea: gathering the modern Greek, Turkish and Jewish musicians featured in the film to present Roza Eskenazi's multicultural biography and repertoire in a spectacular show which took place in 2010.
The ensemble now consists of three singers from Greece, Turkey and Israel, accompanied by six acclaimed musicians from Greece and Turkey, who interpret a colourful programme drawing on Roza Eskenazi‚s repertoire in Greek and Turkish, as well as songs of her Sephardic background in Ladino.
Mehtap Demir was born in Ardahan, east Turkey. She sings all styles of Turkish maqam and folk music and also plays the kemane and gourd violins, baglama (saz), rebab and kemanche. She is a professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Istanbul.
Yota Nega, considered to be one of the great "rembetiko" voices in Greece, was born and raised in Athens, where she started singing after finishing her high school studies, going on to win wide acclaim for her 2003 recording debut. She has performed with the Estoudiantina Orchestra, Yorgos Dalaras, Glykeria, Eleni Vitali, and many others.
Mor Karbasi burst onto the global world music scene in 2008 with the release of her first album, The Beauty and the Sea and has continued to capture audiences internationally with her gorgeous, exceptional voice. Influenced by several cultures, though mainly by her Jewish heritage, she performs a predominantly Sephardic repertoire: from traditional Jewish songs to her own contemporary compositions.
The concert includes rare archive footage of Roza Eskenazi, as well as scenes taken from the documentary film.
+++ Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonico (Greece)
The group Primavera en Salonico got its name from their first collaboration with Savina Yannatou when recording the now classic album, Sephardic Folk Songs from Salonica, in 1994. Since then the singer and group have developed a unique and authentic sound, based on traditional material mainly from the Mediterranean and the Balkans; an open sound without borders or labels, from simple songs extending to contemporary music forms. Beyond her exquisite interpretive capacity Savina Yannatou gives special emphasis to the expression of the musicality of each language, using her voice as an integral instrument within the ensemble. Since then the singer and group have performed all over the world and received countless rave reviews, while their discography together includes seven CDs, of which three are on ECM records. A new ECM CD is in preparation.
+++ Apsilies (Greece)
The group Apsilies formed spontaneously one afternoon during a strike at the university, when four musician friends and music professors found themselves hanging out together and decided to play the old songs for fun while they were waiting. They instantly found each other in the music and their natural, genuine and fresh approach has generated an overwhelming response at their concerts in Greece as well as acclaim for their first CD release. The expertise and passion of each of the musicians, the exquisite voice of Theodora Athanasiou, the combination of the strong characters and variety of instruments result in a powerful experience of the old rembetika in modern times.
Thanks, Pauline. I listened to your last three YouTube posts in order and the sequence was really lovely this morning.
I remember when I first heard of Ahmet Aslan and his brother Mikail through Charlie's mention on his show and also how you began posting on the forum - and could not access YouTube at that time. It was a wonderful introduction to Kurdish music, the beglama, and much much more.
Today, I was looking for more recent Ahmet Aslan to see what he is doing now. I found some concert stuff which is lovely. Then, I noticed this lady's name on the side and clicked on the video. I was surprised and then fascinated by her vibrato and, of course as always, I loved the hypnotic quality of this piece. She may have been mentioned on this thread, but I don't recall hearing her before. Do you know anything about her? All google information is not in English. Anyone?
I am guessing that Charlie replied to your email and encouraged you to join this forum as he did with many of us who post here. I'd always known Charlie had an exceptional ear for music, that's a given, but today I'm thinking that he also had an uncanny ability to spot a true and faithful music lover with good ears from miles away.
That's kind Judith - many thanks for that! You are right - Charlie did indeed encourage me to join the Forum - it has brought me great pleasure over the years. I still miss his show here nr Izmir - something I looked forward to every week-end. He was an amazing fount of knowledge about music from all around the World and his pleasant and informal way of presenting the Show appealed to so many worldwide.
I enjoyed listening to and watching this as the rain lashed down on the roof for the umpteenth time this "summer". The singer, by the way, is Anatoli Margiola whose first name means "east" or "sunrise":- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_Jjhm6bNPM Mandraki also happens to be one of my favourite places in Greece. I have no other interests to declare.
Thanks, Pauline. Here are a couple of tracks featuring Lizeta Kalimeri, Melina Kana's less well-known sister. The first "The river" from a recent album shows the cümbüş to good effect and the river depicted in the booklet is the Voidomatis (Ox-eye), another favourite location this time in Epirus:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQIr6IoJc3o The second is a Greco-Turkish collaboration recorded on the late lamented Libra label:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjECdicAAk0
Ethnic hard-core alert. This is taken from one of a pile of CDs I picked up at Womad at £3.33 an artefact. If you are interested in the music of the minorities in Turkey ("the rest") you know who to call on: Kalan. This is the title track from a CD which covers Laz music from north-eastern Turkey. As the sleeve notes remind us, "Laz is one of the otochton [sic] peoples of the south-western Caucasia". Unfortunately, no *Beer money was available for the translating of the lyrics: it is a BOGOF deal with Turkish and Laz thrown in as incomprehensible languages. Googledygook may supply some mistranslation. Anyway, this track provides to my ears a mesmerising combination of the ecclesiastical and herds of goats. If you have never stumbled upon a herd of goats in the Pindos mountains or the foothills of Mount Olympus you have a treat in store. Or if you have never listened to Orthodox chanting at 5.00a.m. on Mount Athos...but that's enough about me:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lqVeJwOKhA And I missed the bus to work this morning because I was listening to this album so it must be a hit. *Bob Beer has done sterling work over the years translating for Kalan.
Ah yes, I remember praising this album to you In Dominic's shop. A favourite CD - Aravani by Birol Topaloglu from the Eastern Black Sea region of Turkey. This is a mellower song than many on the album, which is often pretty noisy (tulum bagpipes, massed voices, percussion) in the best of ways - good stuff.
Also much enjoyed Pauline's posts of Cafe Aman Istanbul and also the remarkable Zazaki singer Ahmet Aslan, from a week or so back