The Greek-Australian Cultural League is presenting a musical afternoon celebrating In a Strange Land, the anthology of Greek Australian songs and music produced by Pavlos Andronikos and Stephen Adam.
This will be an excellent opportunity to meet artists who contributed to the album, and to hear unique performances of original Greek-Australian songs played by the composers themselves. The composers featured on the album who will perform are: Achilles Yiangoulli; Andrew Kyriakopoulos; Christella Demetriou; Irine Vela; Mairead Hannan; Pavlos Andronikos; and Stephen Adam. They will be supported by musicians: Adonis Xylouris; Alice Garner; Archie Argyropoulos; Deirdre Hannan; Jacob Papadopoulos; and Nikolaos Xylouris.
In addition the well known poet and critic Konstantinos Kalymnios will present the album, and Pavlos Andronikos will speak about the making of it. Pavlos Andronikos said of the album: “The title we chose for this album is an allusion to the psalm By the rivers Babylon, and is taken from the line “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” The word ‘strange’ means, of course, ‘foreign’ or ‘alien’ in the psalm, but for this album the word’s other meaning of ‘odd’ or ‘unusual’ seemed to me apt.
The natural landscape of Australia and the flora and fauna all struck me as very strange when I first arrived here in 1981, and they still do.” “Australia then is the ‘strange land’, and the opening tracks on this CD have been arranged to suggest a journey from the Greek world to the land down under. The album begins in the Greek world with a song which in its music and lyrics evokes traditional Greek folk song, continues with the song I’m Leaving, and arrives in the “strange land” with the instrumental title track and Pink Lakes. “The working life as experienced by many migrants to the strange land is the subject of Day After Day, an energetic rock song about factory work, and this is followed by a passionate meditation on nostalgia and loss in The Same Sun.
Nostalgia and a sense of loss are part and parcel of the migrant experience, but the specific loss so keenly felt in this song is the loss of Kyrenia in the north of Cyprus as a result of the Turkish invasion of 1974 which made refugees of the Greek inhabitants of the north of the island. They’ve Taken the Sun continues the theme of nostalgia, but looks to another Greek island, Crete. In this song the poet Nikos Ninolakis, whose “heart sails endlessly on the seas of memory”, resigns himself to the ways of a heart mourning what is lost.
In contrast, in There Are Moments George Xylouris, also from Crete, celebrates those moments when the heart is flooded with love of life and life’s journey. “With Five Horseflies the album moves thematically to the subject of personal and social relationships. A rock idiom is used to express anger and frustration at those who are “just as they should be” and who expect everybody else to be likewise.
They are like horseflies waiting in ambush. “I wasn’t crazy; you’ve made me crazy,” Stelios rages. Christella Demetriou brings a change of mood in For Yianni, a gentle yearning love song: “I want to return again to your embrace for a little warmth”. The Pomegranate, one of Dimitris Tsaloumas’ most intriguing poems and one of the late Costas Tsicaderis’ loveliest songs, continues the theme of love: “The pomegranate you coveted, love, my love, is bound by unliftable time, water more precious than blood.
But in my yard the old men in the evening, the evening, say it was unseemly that I should cultivate such a fruit.” “Since the night features prominently as a backdrop to The Pomegranate, it seemed appropriate to follow it with Christella Demetriou’s celebration of the night, and this is followed by a celebration of the beauty of Cyprus, as well as an acknowledgment of its tragedy in One Earth. This tragedy is also the subject of With the Lips of Heartache: “You knew that somewhere in the ocean you’d lost a daughter… she wove a song from the thread of centuries, and sang of freedom through endless winters.”
The poem ends with a moving plea from the daughter: “Sun, tell my mother, with the lips of heartache, to send the fare for freedom and her blessing.” “Ironically, given its title, Words Are the Poison represents in the context of this album a coming together of the Greek and English languages, as well as a coming together of the two cultures they represent. Given the sentiments expressed in that song, it seemed appropriate to end the album with “voices” but no words: hence Bluebeard.”
The event will be held on Sunday 25 November at 4.30 p.m. in the building of the Panarcadian Association “O Kolokotronis”, 570 Victoria Street, North Melbourne, 2nd floor. Entry is free. For more information visit http://members.iinet.net.au/~andronikos/InAStrangeLand.html