Great music career comes full circle
Greek music master hits Australian shores
George Dalaras is the most significant singer to emerge out of Greece over the last three decades. He has sold more than 14 million albums. He has released 80 solo albums and has collaborated with more than 65 artists and composers.
His Australian leg of the tour “completes a circle” for Dalaras, “we played in Greece, Cyprus, Germany, Holland, US and now Australia.
“Our tour fell right into the great economic crisis Greece is having, but it impressed me in Europe, where people love Greek music, how contrary their response was to all the negative media written in non-Greek media.”
He was inspired in Amsterdam, when someone, “a non-Greek, unfurled a large poster with ‘Today, we are all Greeks’.”
Clearly, the deep budget cuts announced in Britain last week, and the riots in France, strikes in Spain, reflect that the economic crisis is not a Greek one.
Dalaras turned 61 years old recently and while he has no immediate intentions of retiring, he is aware of the need to “open up new spaces for emerging talent.”
He is philosophical about his age.
“I am working to completing the cycle - closing the circle so to speak - this is in part why I am conducting this large world tour,” he said. “I need to also find a way which I can depart, by honouring other artists that I work with and the audience.”
Dalaras is talking on the phone, from one of his favourite islands, the capital of the Dodecanese, Syros.
“I love Syros, I love coming here and being part of this great community of people. Summer is ending and there is a hint of autumn in the air.”
But there is something more about Syros for Dalaras, it was the home of the great pre-war Rebetiko singer songwriter, Markos Vamvakaris.
“Vamvakaris influenced me. He migrated when he was young to Piraeus and that is where I come from. Songs like, Fragosiriani and Ta matoklatha sou lamboun are classic rebetika.”
Dalaras has been credited for popularising rebetika for the post Junta generation in the 1970s and 1980s.
He has performed a diverse repertoire of Greek and non Greek music, collaborating with Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Youssou N’Dour, Paco de Lucia, Goran Bregovic and Dulce Pontes.
Importantly, he has worked with Greece’s great composers, such as Miki Theodorakis, Yianis Markopoulos and Stavros Xarhakos.
Focusing again on the notion of cycles, like an ancient troubadour, he adds, “Here I will be performing a new and old repertoire; we have a cycle where new and old songs will be sung.”
Along with Dalaras come two exceptional young singers, Michalis Tsouganakis and Melina Aslanidou, and he is effusive about them.
“Michalis is a master, he represents traditional genres of Cretan music, but in an original and at times, experimental way, while Melina is from Pontos and has an amazing array of regional songs.”
Dalaras has a great love of Australia, “I love Australia, every time I come, I try to see more of Australia and the beaches, the outback...it is the most beautiful land on earth.”
On his latest album, Where friends meet, he has a song about Melbourne.
“It is called Se troi i Skouria (The rust eats you up). Its’ a song about Melbourne, yet it forms part of an old tradition. Melbourne is in part a Hellenic centre that cannot be ignored by any Hellene,” he says.
George Dalaras is performing in Sydney on Tuesday October 26, Adelaide on Thursday October 28 and Melbourne on Saturday October 30.
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