Home New A Greek Instrument Finds New Expression in the Hands of a Modern Musician

A Greek Instrument Finds New Expression in the Hands of a Modern Musician

by Madonna

In a tale that spans generations and continents, Petroloukas Halkias, a revered clarinetist, and Vasilis Kostas, a young virtuoso on the laouto, have forged an unexpected bond, reshaping the traditional sounds of Epirus, Greece.

Their encounter was serendipitous. Despite both originating from Epirus, it took Kostas moving to Boston for their paths to cross. It was at an event in 2015, hosted by the Epirotic Society of Worcester, that their journey began. Playing one of his own compositions, “Shepherd’s Song,” Kostas caught Halkias’s attention, challenging the norms by showcasing the laouto as a solo instrument rather than its usual accompaniment role.

Halkias, impressed by Kostas’s audacity and talent, recognized a unique opportunity for collaboration. Thus, the duo embarked on a musical adventure that culminated in the release of their second album, “Soul of Epirus,” in October. Their music delves into the rich tapestry of melodies and rhythms heard in the festivals and ceremonies of Epirus, earning Kostas acclaim and a Grammy nomination.

Kostas’s journey to mastery of the laouto was unconventional. Initially trained as a jazz guitarist at Berklee’s Global Jazz Institute, his encounter with traditional Greek music in Spain led him to embrace the laouto, a decision encouraged by his open-minded professors. Even before meeting Halkias, Kostas had been experimenting with adapting the clarinetist’s intricate compositions for the laouto, blending tradition with innovation.

Their collaboration extends beyond their own music. Invited by jazz luminary Danilo Pérez to join the Global Jazz Messengers, Kostas found himself part of a diverse ensemble dedicated to transcending cultural boundaries through jazz. Their debut album, “Crisálida,” garnered critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination, showcasing their commitment to musical exploration.

Now, both mentors and mentees, Halkias and Kostas are passing on their knowledge to the next generation. Through the Anatoliama Ensemble and the New England Greek Orchestra, they provide students with a platform to immerse themselves in Greek musical traditions, fostering an appreciation that transcends borders.

Their collaboration will be celebrated at the upcoming Soul of Epirus concert, a testament to the enduring legacy of Greek music. As Halkias reflects from Athens, their partnership embodies hope for the future, ensuring that these traditions will endure for generations to come.

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