Women’s Voices festival back at its customary venue

Back with its annual event focusing on the work of women, the Fones Club’s Women’s Voices festival, held for the sixth consecutive season, is now well into its agenda, but several interesting nights are scheduled before Saturday’s close. The festival’s agenda continues tonight with a visiting act, Helen Chadwick, a widely traveled British artist with several albums to her credit. Other promising events include a performance by another touring act, the Spaniard Mara Aranda, who has worked extensively on traditional musical forms. In recent years, the pint-sized Athenian venue, active mostly on the fringe circuit, has also presented festivals focused on percussion and solo performers. According to the venue’s artistic director, Marianna Lyra, the festival’s purpose is to experiment by bringing to the fore female artists who, like the venue itself, like to experiment. Emphasis is laid on artists interested in exploring their vocal capabilities, or going back in search of authentic roots. Chadwick, tonight’s performer, an artist who has written music released on five albums to date, has based much of her songwriting on travels around Europe and North and South America, musical interpretations of favorite poets, as well as her own writings. Much of her work has been heavily influenced by traditional music from various faraway lands, including Bolivia, Brazil, and, closer to western Europe, Georgia. Chadwick has also composed for the Royal Shakespeare Company, opera and radio. Her show tonight, a solo performance, will focus on musical interpretations of two Sufi poets, Rumi and Hafiz, and poems by Chilean Pablo Neruda as well as British poetess Christiana Rossetti. The evening’s second part will feature Marianna Lyra and an Athens-based American musician Joe Tornabene, for an improvised session based on voice and winds. Tomorrow night, two local classically trained performers, Stella Gadedi, a vocalist, and pianist Cornelius Selamsis, will present an assorted repertoire with songs dating back to the interwar period, work by Manos Hadjidakis, Alberto Ginastera, as well as material from a new album by Gadedi titled «To Vivlio tis Mnimis» (Book of Memories). On Thursday, another local vocalist, Martha Frintzila, will present a set dominated by old material, with backing from a promising four-member band. Its lineup includes one of the country’s most stimulating and talented guitarists, Kleonas Antoniou, best known for his work with the respected Greek ethnic-jazz act Mode Plagal, and this act’s bassist, Antonis Maratos, a fine multi-instrumentalist, who, for Thursday’s assignment, will be playing on bass and oud. Antoniou and Maratos will be sided by Panayiotis Tsevas on accordion and piano, and Stefanos Filos on violin. Friday’s performer, Mara Aranda, is a co-founding member of an internationally renowned Spanish music ensemble, l’Ham de Foc. The act’s work has emerged from study and research into centuries-old music from their homeland of Valencia, as well as other parts of the Mediterranean basin. The outfit’s musical interest has also focused on regions beyond Spain, including central Europe, the Middle East, and India. Aranda, on vocals, percussion, and various traditional instruments, will be joined by l’Ham de Foc co-founder, Efren Lopez, and Ralf Eickmeier, both on various period instruments, as well as a local musician, Christos Pappas, on winds. As a quartet, they will perform music from Valencia, as well as material from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The series ends on Saturday night with music from Iran, old and contemporary, from vocalist Mamak Khadem, accompanied by Seyyed Hamid Saeedi Niasar on the traditional instruments santur, daf, and setar. The duo will present Persian classical music based on the writings of the major Sufi poets, Rumi and Hafiz, rhythmic traditional songs from a region called Khorasan, as well as contemporary original material. Fones Club, 9 Artemonos, Neos Cosmos, Athens, tel 210.927.0628. Performances begin at 10 p.m.

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