On November 7-8, four of the country’s finest clarinet soloists will team up to present the secrets of the “laiko klarino” or the role of clarinet in traditional Greek music.

Petros-Loukas Halkias, Nikos Philippides, Giorgos Kotsinis and Alexandros Arkadopoulos will take the stage of the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron Mousikis) to pay tribute to their teachers as well as present the various playing techniques that have emerged through the years, developing into modern-day “schools” and styles.

Though the same instrument, the “Greek clarinet” – much like the violin and the fiddle – differs in the way it is played and the sounds it produces.  

A central instrument in Greek traditional music (demotika) the “klarino“ does everything from sob and lament to chirp and chatter It is the sound of the roaring winds of northern Greece and the stirring sob of the country’s countless immigrants.

In the days of old, the clarinet player was treated pretty much like a god – particularly at the “panegyria” – the Greek open-air festivals usually held in honour of some patron saint. There, centre stage, in the village square, revelling townsfolk would literally stick bills to the soloist’s forehead depending on their level of artistry. The better skilled the more bank notes would “adorn” their forehead… and the stage floor.  

Thankfully today the tradition and skills are being passed on to the younger generations through music schools. And there are of course those, like Giorgos Maggas, who combine spectacle and talent. The 63-year-old from Thiva performs the traditional demotika while taking his clarinet apart in the midst of the song, doing magic only with the mouthpiece.

Accompanying the soloists on November 7 and 8, are singers Vassilis Serbezis and Thomas Konstantinou.

Research and presentation has been carried out by traditional Greek music expert Lambros Liavas.

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