Safeguarding Traditional Greek Music

It seems that even the weather is wrong nowadays in Greece. May usually was a smooth step into summer with waters just about warm enough to take a swim and the weather hot enough to want to do so.

Well, not this May… The Traditional Folk Instruments Museum located between two popular Athens boroughs – Plaka and Monstiraki – had planned to hold “Esyra to Milo” two weeks ago in the garden of the beautifully renovated 164-year-old mansion. It was postponed (for this Wednesday) due to rain. Last night, Wednesday, it rained yet again… instead the organisers held the event dedicated to traditional Greek songs of love, inside… the music and talent made up for the poor weather.

Last night, we got a taste of the hard work that’s gone into the museum but also the love for the craft. A handful of young university students proudly took out their instruments – just like the ones we see depicted in the many centuries-old photographs on display in the museum – and began to play and sing songs of another era with so much zest that I was moved… moved because in a country that can only offer so little in terms of infrastructure, the heart goes the rest of the way…

Let’s not forget, while the rest of Europe was benefitting from the Enlightenment in the 14th to 16th centuries – a time of rebirth, inspiration and creation (for the future) – Greece was enslaved by the Ottoman Turks for 400 years.

And yet, with meager means, the museum has managed to do so much towards preserving traditional Greek music, which is enormous if one realizes the uninterrupted connection it has with Byzantine music, which was influenced by Ancient Greek music.

When in Greece, don’t forget to stop by the museum. It’s a wonderful introduction to theworld of Greek music.

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