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Embark on a Journey of Sino-Greek Music

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Written by: Carole Ten
Photo by:GAN Tian
Edited by:James Campion, WANG Zijin |  Date:2016/10/1131 Hits

On the evening of October 9th, the Sino-Greek Music Concert performed by En Chordias Ensemble and GDUFS Art Union was held in the lecture hall of the Sixth Teaching Building on the North Campus.

 

Students had already queued up to enter the lecture hall long before the concert began. Soon the hall was packed with people who sat and waited, getting warmed up by cheerful Greek music. Among them sat the twelve students who major in the Greek Language, which is a newly established major in GDUFS this year. XIAO Danli, one of them, said that she was excited to come to the concert as a freshman.

 

En Chordias Ensemble

 

The lights dimmed, and the curtains rose.  SHANG Bing from the Greek Language Faculty declared the opening of the concert. The five members of En Chordias Ensemble walked onto the stage in their neat black shirts, trousers and leather shoes. Kyriakos Kalaitzidis, the oud (plucked unfretted string instrument with a neck and a deep round back) player, came forward to greet the audience “Wan Shang Hao” (“Good Evening” in Chinese) before quoting a sentence of Plato – Music is the beauty of the universe – to introduce the concert. After he gave a brief history on the early periods of Greek music, the ensemble opened with a piece of frolic folk music, taking the audience to the sunny and breezy Greek countryside. Next came the Byzantine chanting by Kyriakos Kalaitzidis and Drosos Koutsokostas, whose harmony carried a sense of the ancient Greek epic tales. Some students and teachers in the auditorium closed their eyes to become immersed in the music; the others stared wide-eyed in wonder.

 

Wonderful performance

 

What makes their music sound so GREEK? The answer probably lies in their special musical instruments and their unique notation, which is why Kyriakos talked about them next. Each musician demonstrated his instrument and played a melody. Alkis Zopoglou played a cascade of bright notes with his fingers on the qanun, a ladder-shaped string instrument. Drosos Koutsokostas sang a song in a pentatonic scale accompanied by his lute (fretted oud), which sounded very familiar to the Chinese audience because the scale is also used in traditional Chinese music. Kyriakos Petras played his violin in a low key with other instruments to show its magical effect in striking a chord with the audience. Petros Papageorgiou had a flair for percussion, and he interacted with the audience by teaching them different rhythm patterns in the Greek music with his metallic and wooden drums. Everyone clapped to his beats in delight and laughter. Then Kyriakos Kalaitzidis and Drosos Koutsokostas presented us a smooth duet with a lute and an oud. The antique musical instrument monochord and the organ were also introduced.

 

In addition to the instruments, the notations matter. Kyriakos showed the audience pictures of the elegantly scrawling notes in the manuscripts of the Greek music sheet. It is the notations that preserve Greek ancestors’ music, enabling us to hear the music which moved millions of souls.

 

Later, a piece of rebetiko (the blues of Greece) and Night, Gallop were presented. These freshly composed tunes interpreted the ancient and modern world in a new way without losing their iconic Greek touch.

 

Instrumental ensemble

 

However, this was not the end. GDUFS Art Union took over the stage shortly afterwards. Students resplendent in qipao (the tight-fitting traditional Chinese dress for woman) and suit beamed when giving an impressive performance of Pipayu and Bubugao (Well-known traditional Chinese tunes). The concert concluded with a crossover by the ensemble and the students. The mystical fusion of music which threw a fascinating light on them both continued to enchant the audience.

 

“I feel very happy, since it’s my first time to perform with foreigners,” said one of the students who performed on stage.

 

“For us, it’s a big honour that we may come to China and play our music in front of this amazing audience, especially when we know that the Greek civilization and Chinese civilization are both very old civilizations, so I think there are many common things between our cultures,” said Alkis Zopoglou, the qanun player.

 

“I’m so excited, for though it has been only a month since we started to learn Greek, I have met so many Greeks and been exposed to traditional Greek culture,” said XIAO Danli.

 

Over the course of an hour and a half, the concert was more than a feast for the ears, for it also deepened the mutual understanding between China and Greece. Indeed, as Grigorios Tassiopoulos, Consul General of Consulate General of Greece in Guangzhou, remarked, “When we have music, music does more to us than we can say with words.

 

Introduction of the performers

Kyriakos Petras:Violin

Kyriakos Kalaitzidis:Oud

Alkis Zopoglou:Qanun

Petros Papageorgiou:Percussion

Drossos Koutsokostas:Vocal