The internationally renowned Greek singer, Ifigenia Ioannou, is looking forward to appearing for the first time in Australia, as she will be performing the classic hits of the historic film “Rebetiko”, at the 41st Greek Festival of Sydney 2023, on Friday 21 April.

Rebetiko is an iconic film directed by Costas Ferris, with original music by one of Greece’s leading composers of the 20th century, Stavros Xarchakos.

“It is a great honour for me to be invited to perform at the Greek Festival of Sydney 2023, and I’m looking forward to soon being with all these people and celebrate with music,” Ifigeneia Ioannou told Neos Kosmos.

The distinguished performer was asked about the ways in which music contributes to keeping the bonds between the Greeks of the Diaspora and Hellenism alive, as well as the significance of these events in promoting such concepts.

“Traditional Greek and folk music speaks to the soul of Hellenism. It is through these songs, that we share our common history as well as ‘the good and the bad’ that Greeks went through. This ‘magical’ exchange, from an artist’s perspective, is the purpose of this event, and I am thankful to have the opportunity to contribute to this connection with our roots”.

Ifigeneia Ioannou with her qanun. Photo: Supplied/Ifigeneia Ioannou

Rebetiko is known for carrying the “heavy” history of Greek culture that is linked to the pain of war, refugee hardships and loss. A music that reflects those painful day to day lives of the poor and dispossessed.

“For me, the soul of Greek traditional and folk music stems from rebetika. Rebetiko emerged under circumstances of poverty and immigration. The lyrics are simple and direct, and speak about issues of love, death, poverty, etc. The issue of immigration is one that Greeks all around the world can relate to, as a very large number of Greeks fled their country in search for a better life. For all these reasons I believe that rebetiko speaks to the soul of every Greek, whether they are citizens of Greece or members of the Greek Diaspora”.

Born in Athens in 1981, Ifigeneia Ioannou, explains that her relationship with music developed from an early age.

“Both of my parents are musicians, so I started studying music at about seven years old” she explains.

According to Ifigeneia, playing music is something that “comes naturally”, as music “has become a way of life” for her.

She graduated from the Palini Experimental Music school and continued her musical education by obtaining a Degree in Harmony from the National Conservatory of Athens. She also obtained a Degree in Guitar and was rewarded an A in her Diploma in Guitar, while also obtaining Degrees in Counterpoint and Fugue.

In 2012 she graduated from the Department of Traditional Music of the Technological Educational Institute of Epirus, under the tutelage of A. Tsardakas on the qanun. In addition, she completed her dissertation entitled: “Rita Abatzi, stylistic analysis of her repertoire”.

Ifigeneia expanded her musical horizons even further, by completing the Postgraduate Program of the Music Department of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 2018, in the “Interpretation of Instrument and Vocal Music”, enriching her knowledge of the qanun, under the guidance of P. Dimitrakopoulos.

Ifigeneia with her band “Ifigeneia Ioannou & Eivala” during their performance “Rebetika Synaxaria – Women in pre-war Rebetiko”, at the Michael Kakogiannakis Foundation in Athens. Photo: Supplied

In 2013 she participated in the musical ensembles “Esperanto” and “Rebetika arranged for the Guitar”, with Dimitris Mystakidis, while in 2018 she collaborated with Dimitris Lappas in the ensemble “Ta Peiragmena”.

To this day, she has made a series of appearances on stage, with various musical groups, in Greece as well as Europe. She has collaborated with a lot of established names in the Greek music scene, such as Dionysis Savopoulos, Manolis Lidakis, Babis Tsertos and Giorgos Perris.

“I am grateful to have had the honour of working with some of the most distinguished artists and songwriters of Greece”, she commented.

In 2020 she set up the “Smyrnean and Rebetika Music Ensemble” at the Centre of Greek Music “Phoebus Anogeianakis”, and currently has the pleasure of teaching at the Athens School of Music.