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A feast of Greek music in Budapest, Hungary April 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Europe.

It will be no surprise if there is a full house at the Palace of Arts on Sunday, April 29, when George Dalaras visits Budapest on his European tour with 12 other Greek musicians, including prominent artists such as Melina Aslanidou and Michalis Tzouganakis.

When Dalaras sang in Budapest a few years ago, it was at the Margit Island open-air theater. It was the celebration of Panygiris, the Greek Whitsun, and there was an “arena atmosphere” inside the theater. All of the people sung the songs together, with George Dalaras, an idol of Greek music. No-one missed a word, they knew every song by heart. The people present were mostly from Hungary’s Greek community, people whose ancestors arrived in Hungary after the Greek Civil War in 1946-49, and who established the so-called Beloyiannis, Hungary’s Greek Village.

Dalaras grew up in Piraeus, in the ambience of the old Rembetika and Laika: his father, Loukas was a famous Rembetika player. The Rembetika, “urban blues” in Greek, was originally the music of the Greek Underground, and originated in the hashish dens of Piraeus and Thessaloniki around the turn of the 20th century. It was influenced by oriental elements that came with the forced immigration of two million Greek refugees from Asia Minor. It gave way to Greek popular music, Laika, in Greek, means “urban folk”, that used the same instruments in similar ways during the early 1950s.

Dalaras’s first public appearance was at the age of 15, as guitarist and singer, and his first recording was made at the age of 18. The authentic sound of Greek urban music based essentially on the bouzouki, enriched by the young artist’s innovative contemporary approach, won him instant critical and popular acclaim, his vast live audiences rewarding him with sales of several hundred thousand recordings for his first best-seller.

He was the first to take Hellenic music out of the conventional club environment and perform concerts in large venues. Since then, Dalaras has sold more than 10 million albums of his own work and his collaborations. Dalaras started as a Rembetika player, and initiated its revival after he turned back to its roots with his album 50 Years of Rembetika.

Thanks to his exceptional voice and instrumental skills, he has always been an innovator in contemporary Hellenic music. In a country with so many flourishing musical traditions, Dalaras has become a musical phenomenon. He has brought new music and cultures to his listeners, and his collaborations with other international artists have demonstrated his ability to cross over into other styles. He has, for example, recorded and appeared on stage with Paco de Lucia, Al di Meola, Ian Anderson, Sting, and produced albums such as Misa Criolla for Ariel Ramirez.

In his Budapest concert, Dalaras is likely to focus on his urban bouzouki songs, but expect him to play every kind of Greek-style music, from Rembetika to Laika, from ethnopop to entechno.

George Dalaras > April 29
Palace of Arts Pest, District IX, Komor Marcell utca 1, Tel 555-3000. www.mupa.hu

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