A Report on the Conference
"Researching Rebetika: Present Projects and Future Prospects"
held on the Island of Hydra, 17-20 October 2002
By tradition I offer a report on the activities of last year's Hydra Rebetiko Gathering. Partly for those who were unable to be with us this year. Partly for our sponsors. And partly for people who might like to join us next year. Our next conference will be held in Hydra on 16-19 October 2003. Its sub-theme will be "Rebetiko and Women, and the Women of Rebetiko".
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The important thing is that the Hydra Rebetiko Gathering has now become an annual event, and is attracting larger numbers of people. At some point we shall have to decide whether to encourage that growth, or whether to limit numbers.
Our conference is held in the third week of October, on the Island of Hydra, with the support of the Mayor and Municipality of the island. It is attended by people from all over the world – Greeks and non-Greeks alike. We combine academic research, performance and workshop sessions related to Greek music and Rebetiko in particular. Each year we choose a sub-theme, and this year it was "Karaghiozis and Rebetiko", including live performance of Karaghiozis theatre..
The Conference has several aims:
(a) To create and develop international academic collaboration in researching Rebetiko music. To this end we invite leading academics in the field to come and contribute papers.
(b) To make that research available in the English language. This is really important, as we have discovered, and not only for non-Greeks. There are many Greeks in the Diaspora who do not read or speak Greek, and this means that they are excluded from access to their own history and culture. Therefore wherever possible Greek papers are translated into English.
(c) To publish the papers from our Conference in printed book form. The papers from our current conferences are in the process of being edited, and we are seeking funds to help with publication.
(d) To place our Rebetiko-related research materials on a dedicated Internet website so that they can be accessed from around the world. Our website, located at http://www.geocities.com/HydraGathering, has proved to be a useful mobilising tool.
(e) To create a RebetikoForum discussion list, where conference members can exchange opinions and generally keep in touch. This list has now been established: http://www.topica.com/lists/RebetikoForum
(f) To use the "new technologies" (Internet, e-mail, MP3, digital video etc) to build a horizontal network of communication between rebetiko researchers, musicians, singers, film-makers and music-lovers. The participants at the conference have again exchanged e-mail addresses, and once again new creative projects are arising out of the fruitful encounter that we had.
(g) To create a publicly-accessible archive of articles, journals, sound-recordings, film etc, which can be used by researchers. In a very exciting development, the British Library at St Pancras has just agreed to provide facilities to house the archives of the Institute of Rebetology.
(h) To locate Rebetiko within the broader musics of the Mediterranean as a whole. To this end we have brought musicians and singers from both Greece and Turkey as a way of highlighting the Asia Minor roots of rebetiko music.
(i) To invite the islanders of Hydra to share the experience of our Conference. For this purpose we organise open-access film shows and concerts, and we organise one big free concert – our "Saturday Night Rebetiko Supper" – with some of Greece's best musicians. We also involve the children of the island of Hydra in our activities, through music and theatre workshops.
The success of this year's conference:
From Athens we had two Karghiozis players – Alexander Melissinos, performing with his father Jason Melissinos. In the lovely surroundings of the Bratsera Hotel they prepared for us an hour-long show entitled "Stavrakas sto tekke" – an extraordinary parade of figures from the shadow theatre tradition, accompanied by rebetiko songs played by Asterios Pouftis, Pavlos Melas and Nikos Zarkos of the London-based band Moosootoo. Jason also did a shadow-theatre workshop for local children in the town's museum, organised with the help of Hydra resident Lily Marcopoulos.
Once again, the Saturday Night Rebetiko Supper at the Douskos Restaurant was magnificent. Our director of music Andreas Tsekouras put together a fine group of musicians. We were thrilled to have with us Maryo from Thessaloniki – who is becoming very well known on the "world music" scene – and bouzouki player Thymios Stouraitis, along with singer Sophia Papazoglou and musicians Kyriakos Gouventas (violin), Manolis Pappos (bouzouki) and Yannis Papayiannopoulos (guitar).
Once again we had singers and musicians from Turkey. Ivi Dermanci from Istanbul sang with the band on the Saturday night, and was followed by our two musicologist friends from Ankara and Izmir, Cenk Guray and Ali Fuat Aydin, who played an intensely thoughtful set which revealed the elements which bridge Greek and Turkish music. Cenk was playing a remarkable and much-photographed two-necked baglamas [one neck fretted, the other neck not fretted, to give the possibility of fractional note variations]. On the Saturday afternoon Cenk and Ali Fuat also gave an illustrated introduction to musical modes – the "maqams" or "roads" – in Turkish music. And in a new venture, Ivi conducted a memorable singing workshop for conference members – an event which we shall certainly repeat next year.
For many musicians, the most important part of Hydra is the informal "jam sessions" that take place in hidden corners around the island during the conference. As ever Moosootoo, played some splendid sets – of which the most memorable was the through-till-morning session on the stone steps of the Merchant Marine School, together with musicians from the Rebetiko Forum, and Maryo and Ivi Dermanci.The islanders have still not forgotten the sight of the musicians accompanying Maryo to her ferry early in the morning, singing and playing all the while.
The concert was recorded on 8-track digital sound by Nikos Dionysopoulos, and was filmed by our director of photography Emilio della Chiesa. Eventually our intention is to produce a CD of the musics of the Hydra Gathering. And also a film of each year's event.
The first film – a 40-minute documentary – has already been produced, and was premiered on 17 January at a Rebetiko Party organised by the Institute of Rebetology and Moosootoo in London. Copies will be available for anyone interested.
Our speakers for the October 2002 Conference were:
[in alphabetical order]
ALI FUAT AYDIN of Izmir with CENK GURAY of Ankara. "The Characteristics of the Music of Asia Minor Greeks and the Effects of 'Population Exchange' in Greek Music: A Comparative Approach"
MARK DRAGOUMIS of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies, Athens: "A paper on Kyria Koula and the 'Votsis March'."
ED EMERY of London: "The figure of Stavrakas in the Karaghiozis shadow theatre"
JOHN HARRISON of Yorkshire. A workshop on instrument-making.
DIMITRIS HYPHANTIS of Athens: " Typology of Hashish Users in Rebetiko"
MARIOS KOPTSAS-ANASTASSIOU of the University of Vienna. "Some points where scientific research about rebetiko is lacking"
ALEXANDER and JASON MELISSINOS of Athens: A shadow puppet performance of "Stavrakas sto Tekke".
MOOSOOTOO. A 60-minute themed session on "Rebetiko and the World of Work: Songs from the 1930s"
ARIS RADIOPOULOS of Germany: "Rebetiko i laiko? Ena anuparkto dilimma"
A ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION "Rebetiko in Today's World – Mapping a Musical Movement"
HUGO STRÖTBAUM of Holland: "Rebetiko: what's in a name?"
ANDREAS TSEKOURAS of Athens. "The Epicurean Ideal in Rebetiko "**
PETER VEJLESKOV of Denmark: "A thematic-stylistic analysis of Vasilis Tsitsanis's censored pre-war lyrics"
NIKOS ZARKOS of Moosootoo. "The Guitar Style of Katsaros"
Antoine Carolus with his outi as decorated by Kree Arvanitas