Theodore Skaltsas’ love affair with the clarinet, one of the most iconic instruments of Greece, started at a very young age and developed despite the fact that he was born Down Under. Now aged 36, the musician is adamant that he cannot go anywhere without it.
“My clarinet is my life. I love its unique sound and the fact that every single note, every melody and every song I play is another step closer to Hellenism, the traditions of our homeland and my fellow Greeks,” says Theodore who has since made it his mission to visit Greece at least once a year during the summer months to draw inspiration and perform at the most random places one can possibly imagine.
“This year I was on a boat on the magical island of Paxoi. As the boat approached the caves at one of the many secluded beaches of the island, I looked around and the view was just breathtaking. I was inspired by the crystal blue waters, the clear blue sky and those remarkable rocks that were literally surrounding us, and without a second thought I took out my clarinet and started playing.
“The unique mellow sound and the melody echoing in the middle of nowhere was just one of those magical moments that are hard to put into words, but, I know I will cherish forever,” says the talented musician, who for the past eleven years has ‘serenaded’ the waters of Chios, Mytilini, Crete, Corfu, Lefkada, Paros, Naxos, Ithaca, Paxoi and Antipaxoi, in the Peloponnese and northern Greece.
“Wherever I go, I always have my best friend with me, my clarinet. When I play, especially in Greece, I get transported to a unique magical world, one where people also come together genuinely caring to connect and share special moments and memories with one another. If my music can do that, then I am happy,” says Theodore who draws his origins from the regions of Arcadia and Pyrgos Ilias in the Peloponnese.
“In 1976 at the age of 21, my father left his little village near Levidi and followed his family who had already migrated to Australia. My grandfather, also a musician, used to play the violin so I guess the music gene came from him as well as my need to keep my Greek heritage and traditions alive through the power of music,” says Theodore adding that although not many people play the clarinet in Australia, he has noticed a shift towards the “δημοτική” music and instruments such as the bouzouki and the clarinet.
“To me the sound of the clarinet is unique, but it is also up to the individual to choose how they wish to use their talent. Either way, I find it really encouraging when I meet young people and children in Australia that express the desire to learn how to play an instrument and continue the tradition of Greek music down under.
“As for us, professional clarinet and bouzouki players, it is our duty and responsibility to do everything we can to keep this aspect of our Greek history alive, even if it is on the other side of the world,” concludes Theodore.