CULTURE

Savvopoulos makes first stop in London

Considering the milestones in his lengthy and active career, one would assume veteran songwriter Dionysis Savvopoulos has done enough to make new career thrills a remote possibility. But the prolific 56-year-old, who emerged in the mid-1960s to establish himself as one of his era’s most important and influential songwriters, should receive further joy over the weekend when he travels to London for two shows – the artist’s first ever in the city. The two concerts, to take place this Saturday and Sunday at the Hellenic Centre in London, were organized by the center, which was founded as a charity in 1994 to provide a focus for Great Britain’s Greek community and promote Greek culture. Savvopoulos will be accompanied by three accomplished younger musicians – Takis Farazis, on piano and accordion, Costas Theodorou on double bass, and guitarist Vassilis Pierakeas – for a career-spanning, acoustically played set that has been prepared especially for the occasion. Though Savvopoulos is particularly renowned for the witty, politically and socially aware material of his career’s earlier period, he has remained an active figure throughout the decades. In more recent times, Savvopoulos has been recognized repeatedly for his major contribution to Greek song. The state paid homage to the artist by inviting Savvopoulos to perform at its extravagant millennium celebrations by the Acropolis. Early last winter, the Athens Concert Hall hosted a career retrospective over three nights with the participation of several gifted artists, including Domna Samiou, Nikos Papazoglou, Melina Kana, and Eleni Vitali. And only several months ago, Savvopoulos was one of just a handful of local artists that appeared on the roster of the first WOMAD festival to be held in Greece. Savvopoulos’s inclusion in the multi-cultural festival – one that advocates the universal appeal of various cultures as opposed to racism – was not accidental. The songwriter displayed an open-minded attitude early in his career by fusing disregarded – at the time – Balkan elements into his material, decades before Balkan sounds were popularized through the World Music scene. Savvopoulos returned to this working theme in one of his more recent albums, 1999’s Chronopoios (Time-Maker), which was orchestrated by Theodorou, the songwriter’s bassist for the upcoming London shows. Other forthcoming musical events at the center include a one-woman cabaret show performed by a gifted young vocalist, Sophia Koutsaki, on Sunday, November 11 and 18 (7 p.m.); a double-header with two Greek rock bands, Diafana Krina and Closer, on November 12 (8 p.m.); and a Macedonian Dance Workshop on November 11 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.).