Maria Farandouri and Zulfu Livaneli cross their bridge

It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate curtain raiser for the Athens Concert Hall’s Bridges series than a join appearance by singer Maria Farandouri and Turkish composer Zulfu Livaneli. «This is a true bridge linking the two countries,» said Dimitris Maragopoulos, the series’ first director, at a recent press conference. He was followed a little later by a smiling Livaneli, who added: «It sounds easy, but when you try to truly build a bridge, you realize that it’s no easy task. You realize that you have to bring two things together over a void, there is nothing there, no trees, no building no road.» This road, which the two artists have been building slowly in the last 20 years, leads them to the Megaron tomorrow. Fresh from a performance in Volos on Monday, they will be accompanied by the Volos Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Russian maestro Semyon Kogan. Livaneli returns to Greece with a new work, «Water Memory,» which will be interpreted by Maria Farandouri with lyrics by Agathi Dimitrouka. This new song cycle is complemented by «New Age Rhapsody» (in the first part of the evening) as well as songs from «Maria Farandouri Sings Livaneli,» with lyrics by Lefteris Papadopoulos. At the press conference Maragopoulos explained that the Turkish composer is inspired by the heritage of the Asik. For hundreds of years the movement’s poets fought against religious and racial discrimination, while criticizing Islam’s dogmatic positions and supporting the idea of freedom and women’s rights. The movement met with hostility on the part of the Ottoman establishment. The main instrument used by the Asik was the sazi, a string instrument, while the tradition’s last representative was blind musician Asik Veysel, who died in 1973. Today, Livaneli’s ambition is to marry the Asik heritage with contemporary musical trends. That is why for his Greek appearances he is accompanied by leading soloists of traditional instruments, such as the sazi, the oud, the kanonaki and the clarinet, among others. Born in 1946, Livaneli is also a prominent member of the Turkish cultural and political scene besides being an composer. An author and a columnist, Livaneli was appointed as the special adviser to the director general and a goodwill ambassador of UNESCO in 1995, while in 1997, one of his concerts in Ankara was attended by 500,000 people. He has recorded his works with the London Symphony Orchestra, while his books include «The Eunuch of Constantinople» and «A Child in Purgatory.» For years, the composer has been a fervent supporter of Turkish-Greek ties, co-founding along with Mikis Theodorakis «The Committee for Turkish and Greek Friendship.»