NASIA KONITOPOULOU, DIMITRIS KONTOGIANNIS, MICHALIS GAMPIERAKIS AND ORCHESTRA
DURING A FESTIVE PERFORMANCE THAT REVIVED THE NISITIKA AND REMBETIKA SONGS OF GREECE
Watch videos from this performance
AKTINA's Greek Music Journey given on June 6, 2014 paid a tribute to the Nisiotika (folk songs from the Greek islands) and to the Rembetika (Greek blues). The one of kind festive performance hosted at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College took place before a very warm and enthused cheering crowd who were singing and even dancing in the isles from beginning to end. The concert featured from Greece the renowned singers Nasia Konitopoulou in the Nisiotika and Dimitris Kontogiannis in the Rembetika accompanied by the musicians Michalis Gampierakis, violin/vocals, Nikolas Sarantis, bouzouki/vocals and Giannoulis Margonis, guitar. The band was supported by the well-known New York based percussionist Mathias Kunzli.
The successful performance stands out and it is credited for reviving the Nisiotika and the Rembetika in their authentic form and without any variations or modern influences. Both lead singers used only the basic traditional instruments such as the violin, guitar and percussion for the folk songs of the Greek islands and bouzouki, guitar and percussion for the rembetika.
The first part of the program highlighted the Nisiotika (folk songs from the Greek islands) with Nasia Konitopoulou and then followed the tribute to the Rembetika (Greek blues) with Dimitris Kontogiannis while the third part featured both lead singers on stage performing both Rembetika and Nisiotika.
The performance opened with a folk instrumental featuring the notable folk musician Michalis Gampierakis on the violin who later also sung a few traditional songs from the Dodecanese.
Nasia Konitopoulou who dedicated her debut performance in the U.S. to her late father George Konitopoulos who was her teacher and mentor, after welcoming the crowd, expressed her most sincere thanks and appreciation to AKTINA and to Elena Maroulleti, the organizer and the concert's Executive Producer for giving her the opportunity to be part of this concert. She stressed that, "AKTINA’s contributions to the preservation of the representative music of Greece are immense" and urged all to continue supporting the organization so that it may carry on with its important cultural mission of bringing to New Yorkers memorable concerts, as well as its public service media AKTINA FM and AKTINA TV which also promote the culture and rich musical inheritance of Greece. Nasia opened her program with the very well known and loved folk song "Tzivaeri".
The Rembetika program also opened with an instrumental solo featuring bouzouki player Nikolas Sarantis and then followed the veteran rembetika and laika (popular-folk) singer Dimitris Kontogiannis. Kontogiannis who is credited for reviving the rembetika in the early 70’s treated the enthused audience with a program filled with representative and very popular rembetika. After welcoming the crowd and expressing his thanks and gratitude to AKTINA for the invitation to be part of this concert, he also spoke about the important cultural contributions of the organizers and urged all to continue their support.
During the third part of the program Nasia Konitopoulou shared the stage with Dimitris Kontogiannis and performed rembetika while Kontogiannis performed Nisiotika with the highlight being a folk song from his latest album “Ta Dimotika Tis Krisis” (Folk Songs of the Crisis) which is based on well-known folk music with new lyrics which satirize the economic crisis Greece. As the joyful performance continued, Kontogiannis further enthused the audience as he got up and danced a zeimbekiko as Nasia sung an everlasting rembetiko, while Nikolas Sarantis also displayed his vocal abilities with the performance of the very popular song Baxe Tsifliki by the legendary rembetika singer/songwriter Vasilis Tsitsanis.
The concert lasted for almost 2½ hours with an encore performance prior to which there were brief remarks by Elena Maroulleti, President of AKTINA Productions, Inc., and the concert's Executive Producer. After thanking the audience who were mostly comprised by Greek and non-Greek AKTINA FM and AKTINA TV longtime fans and supporters, Ms. Maroulleti also expressed her warm thanks to all of the participating artists, the AKTINA volunteers, the sponsors and the Kaye Playhouse staff.
AKTINA’s new concert was crowned with huge success and everyone in attendance had an amazing night out and a great time. Greek Music Journey 2014, Tribute to the Nisiotika and Rembetika songs of Greece was made possible in part thanks to the generous support of Arch Capital group, the catering sponsors, Ammos Estiatorio in Manhattan, New York, Bayside Diner and ZENON Taverna in Queens. The Greek American weekly "I efimerida tis Neas Yorkis" and Mega Cosmos were the concert's Media Sponsors. AKTINA’s dedicated volunteer production support staff included Tom Stouras, Caroline Ioannou, Kosmas Vrakas, Penny Chapman, the Interns Julie Kokosis, Tania Moutaftsis and Irene Constantinou and Elena Maroulleti as the Concert's Executive Producer. The concert's official photographer was Anastassios Mentis.
Photos above by: Anastassios Mentis