“We are a group of musicians passionate about Greek music, its history and the emotions that it can evoke.” That’s how a group of Londoners describe themselves and their ambitious project: the Rebetiko Carnival, which kicked off last week in and around London (Bristol, Brighton, Shrewsbury) and runs through July 2.

Besides a wide variety of events featuring music by the greats of the genre: everyone from Tsitsanis and Vamvakaris to the latter Zambetas and Papazoglou, concerts include such specialised events as a homage to the “Tabachaniotika” (the urban song of Crete), the lyricism of Smyrna, the songs of Istanbul and the mainstream “Archontorebetika”. More on Greek music history here.

Other activities include education and outreach events with musicians raising funds to take the rebetiko to schools, hospitals, prisons and educational centres for children with special needs, offering the opportunity for all those unable to attend the concerts to perform with professionals and to open a channel of communication through music to young promising musicians.

The carnival will also provide participants the chance to see the instruments used in the rebetiko genre thanks to Christos Spourdalakis, who has lent his collection to go on show before the concerts. Spourdalakis opened a shop in 1979 in Piraeus, where stringed instruments are made or repaired.

And for those interested in more than just listening, organisers will be holding seminars on diverse subjects of interest including the Pre-War Rebetiko, Singing the Rebetika of Crete, Techniques, Improvisation and Harmonisation on the Three-stringed Bouzouki, the Violin in the Songs of Smyrna and much more.

Let’s meet the (Greek) people behind the London rebetiko Carnival: violinist Kyriakos Gouvendas, cellist Pavlos Carvalho, guitarist Maria Tsirodimitri, singer Marina Deligianni, musician Iacovos Kirlappos and bouzouki soloist Manolis Taouxis.

So Londoners take heed, and those of you visiting the UK capital this month,  find out where it’s all happening… Greek style.

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