CULTURE

Songs for Christmas in Greek

“White Christmas» by Frank Sinatra or Costas Tournas, «Silent Night» by Machalia Jackson or Sophia Vossou? This is not an attempt to compare, but to note that just as Christmas music from abroad runs the gamut of genres from jazz and pop to reggae and rock, Greek tunes also offer a number of choices. Greek Christmas albums on sale at record stores include everything from traditional carols to orchestrals and, as with all kinds of music, it is possible to find everything from excellent productions to those that rely on the season’s feverish consumerism. Christmas music comes in various categories, from the classic Greek carols or kalanda and foreign carols set to Greek, interpreted by choirs such as Typaldou, to church or Byzantine music as performed by various groups. There are superb renderings of traditional kalanda, such as those by Domna Samiou in an album that takes songs from different parts of Greece. First released in 1974, «Greek Carols» is still popular today – as well as others by the Greek Music Archive, Kiki Kapsaki, Yiannis Tsiamoulis and others. Pop singers have also made their mark in the glittering world of Christmas carols, with Kaiti Garbi and Thanos Kalliris, for instance, having released solo albums, while others, such as Costas Bigalis, Sophia Vossou, Christos Dantis and Costas Tournas, have contributed to song collections. Another category is that of singers who have brought out songs inspired by Christmas, such as Haris and Panos Katsimichas and their album, «The Mirthless State and the Elves» (I agelasti politeia kai oi kalikantzaroi). Children’s albums, with carols and songs, often come in an attractive package, along with enclosures of sketches and drawings. One of the nicest is by Giorgos Katsaros, who plays the kalanda on the saxophone, together with carols from around the world with the lyrics in Greek. In addition, there are special editions like «Christmas Without Borders» and an album by Iro, «A Bird Called Love» (Ena pouli pou to legan agapi), the proceeds of which go to charity. «People start buying Christmas carols from the beginning of November,» Christos Asimakopoulos of the Greek section of the Metropolis record store informs us. «Greek ones have a slight edge over the foreign ones, but sales are steady every year, as is the case with all seasonal goods. Buyers come in all ages. A large number are parents with children.» Manager of Virgin record store Haris Yiannoulis notes that «Most people do not ask for specific albums. They apply to sales staff for information and are more likely to choose albums with artists that are currently fashionable.»