CULTURE

Multi-talented Greek songwriter and singer gets a new job: Professor

Good news for all those members of the audience who attended the three performances by Dionysis Savvopoulos at the Athens Concert Hall in December 2000. «Savvorama» a true feast of sound and color, put together by art director Alexis Kyritsopoulos, is due to be released in DVD form in only a few days. This is also very satisfying to its creator. Following the DVD’s release, Savvopoulos is scheduled to appear in Thessaloniki, alongside Nikos Papazoglou. Together they will present the highly successful «Se Giortino Agonisma» production, which they performed in Athens last year. The production mixes styles and tunes: «Vietnam» with «Black is Black» and «Gimme Some Loving» with «Lemoni stin Portokalia,» but also popular laika tunes, some of which have long been forgotten or even misunderstood. Made up of well-known songs from the 1950s and 1960s, this is a performance of unexpected combinations and recurring surprises. Savvopoulos may be leaving the capital toward the end of the month, yet Thessaloniki is not the only city awaiting him and his talents. He is also expected on the island of Corfu, notably at the Ionian University, where he is expected to teach. Savvopoulos recently spoke to Kathimerini in a phone interview. There has always been an element of drama in the way you show your work. Were you cautious when it came to using new technology? On the contrary. Nikos Soulis had already made a video recording of «Savvorama.» The idea for the DVD came later on, of course. The processing was carried out at Digital Press and I really enjoyed it. They placed six speakers around the room, and the result was surprising. Clear images, with action unfolding just like in Alexis Kyritsopoulos’s paintings. There is no comparison with the CD which was released prior to all this. Here we also have the performance’s props. How do you feel about image playing an increasingly important role in the music industry? I don’t find it strange, because what I do is all about music. In this case image does not replace some kind of weakness or bad quality. Professor Savvopoulos You are about to teach students. How does «Professor Savvopoulos» sound to you? The Ionian University proposed a term as guest professor. I gladly accepted. I will be teaching people who are already musicians. They have already graduated from conservatories and are continuing their studies in music. It will, no doubt, be a singular course, taught by an eccentric man, but it will be good for them to come into contact with artists. What exactly will you teach? Poetic music. What I basically have to talk about is the development of Greek songwriting since the day mass recording began. The time when audiences began influencing song-making. Not through various social groups, but as its consumers. How the Greek public was influenced by advertising and fashion, for instance, while before that, it had a simple participation in song making. The subject is the development of songs since 1931 and how Greek songs have gone from one success to the next, since then. Is Greek music breaking any new ground today? We are now going through a transitional period in songwriting – a crisis which we could not avoid. Naturally, something better is bound to follow. Are you going to tell your students what to aim for and what to avoid? The way a song enters you is of great importance. Some things stay, others go. I will show them how to make a song list. What comes before and after. They are music studies graduates; they have to know how to build a list. When we have 50 songs, for instance, how do we put them in order? Which ones should we leave out? Which ones do you leave out? What is it that makes your performances so different, so original? Like, «Savvorama» for instance? It’s about our own experiences and that particular moment when we are performing the program. It’s about what we want to say. What you used to do when you were young seemed strange to most. If you see someone doing something strange today, how will you know if its his fault, and not yours? The person must know if he is following his heart, as opposed to following a passing trend. If he is listening to his heart, sooner or later we will see that as well. New musicians People say that what matters most to young people today is a career. Is this the case in music as well? Aiming for a career is not necessarily a bad thing, neither is ambition. What is not good is the absence of substance. What is the most important advice you will give your students? What we have to do is create ourselves. And you can’t do that if you don’t listen to your inner world. All your students are conservatory graduates preparing for their degree in music studies. Are we more open to Greek conservatories today? In Greece, conservatories acted as an introduction to foreign cultural elements. In my days, conservatories had hangups when it came to our own, traditional folk music. Things are changing now. Today students are learning to play traditional instruments.