New hope for country’s music

Let’s get things straight from the start. There’s been a lot of talk among local artists and music industry officials about the imminent revival of Thessaloniki’s Greek Song Festival, whose roots date back to the 1960s. Its relaunch, scheduled for October 6-9, will bear no resemblance to the event’s original concept. There will be no revival nor continuity. All that will remain intact is the festival’s title. The effort made by ERT, state radio and television, since last May, when the revival plans were announced, has generated a general feeling of hope for new music trends. «We simply love Greek music,» noted ERT’s president, Christos Panagopoulos, at a news conference last week. «We want to provide space and time for it to tell its tales and produce new trends,» he added. Also at the news conference, Antonis Andrikakis, the general manager of ERA, or Greek Radio, one of ERT’s divisions, said there was «serious reason for the staging of this festival.» To be held at Thessaloniki’s 8,000-capacity Pylaia stadium, the event is expected to liven up the entire city over its four-day duration. Opening night will feature 12 songs by new artists, from a total of 442 that were submitted. An 18-member panel that included the artists Dimitra Galani, Odysseas Ioannou, Yiorgos Katsaros and Manolis Famellos made the selections. Contestants will vie for three awards to be determined by combined voting from a panel and television viewers. Voting from the panel – which includes the artists Mimis Plessas, Tania Tsanaklidou, Yiannis Kotsiras and Filippos Grapsas – will count for 40 percent, with the remainder reserved for television audiences. The event’s final day, on October 9, will be particularly important. A considerable number of artists, among them Dionysis Savvopoulos, Melina Kana, Costas Makedonas and Eleni Tsaligopoulou, will perform songs prepared especially for the evening. «If we want to get somewhere, we must begin by paving the way,» said Margarita Mytilineou, director of ERT’s Deftero Programma, or Radio Two. The songs short-listed for the festival represent a generation that grew up in a condensed urban environment – a relatively recent development in modern Greek history. «These are apartment-block generation songs,» said songwriter Stamatis Kraounakis. Suspicions regarding this revival’s objectives have been widely expressed, but, in all honesty, this festival, in its new form, should provide one of the last opportunities – of essence – for Greek song, currently degenerated and looking for new ways. Panagopoulos, ERT’s president, admitted the revival may not be flawless. Once over, both the festival and various other proposals will be assessed. Commenting on the current state of Greek music, which is saturated in pop simplicity oriented for trash TV, ERT’s chief noted, «Simplicity has prevailed over everything, everywhere.» Complementing him, Mytilineou, head at ERT’s Radio Two, said, «Greek song cannot be determined by gossip.» She has a point, and it’s precisely what this festival intends to battle against.