CULTURE

A musical journey around the world in just one night

Ten years ago Maria Farantouri, Elli Paspala and Savina Yannatou appeared on stage together for the first time to embark on a musical journey that combined various traditions and cultures. Now their voices are uniting once again in a composition of surprises, jazz games and improvisation at the Pallas Theater. Their initial appearance last night will be followed by a second, and final, show tonight. In both cases, it was Farantouri who came up with the idea of the concerts. After all, she firmly believes that in the era of multiculturalism, the landscape has broadened. «When you present audiences with music from the past that is rendered in a contemporary way, full of rhythm, energy and inspired arrangements, you open up new horizons for both the public and the artists involved.» Besides, all three of these respected vocalists travel the world conveying the repertoires, images, experiences, impressions and aesthetics they have acquired over the last decade. In the case of the Pallas performances, they will merge their lyrical talents, passion and interpretations into a production defined by the intriguing sounds of world music. Everything will come together here: folk music and the Byzantine tradition, rebetika, spirituals and blues, along with sounds from the Balkans, Latin America and Africa. «We are not repeating ourselves,» says Farantouri, while Paspala notes that «with the exception of four or five songs, the program is different from that which brought us together 10 years ago. It is the kind of change that is relevant to us as well, as we have all grown older.» Nevertheless, even though they carry the markings of time, the trio’s mood seems to be getting younger. «Not immature, but without prejudices,» notes Paspala. «I’m raising a child; Maria was raising hers, while Savina has her own things going on.» The Pallas program includes material that is not necessarily familiar. Farantouri, for instance, singles out a song, «Snow Falls in the Night,» a poem by Nazim Hikmet to music by Mikis Theodorakis, a piece she usually sings when she appears in Germany. «It’s one of my favorite songs and what’s interesting is that in Germany it is interpreted by jazzmen.» Singing since the age of 16, Farantouri is moved by disparate stories and the way they are linked in a program that brings together different cultures. «From Thelonious Monk to Monica Salmaso and ‘Hartino to feggaraki’ [Paper Moon] – the latter interpreted by Elli – and the dreamlike qualities of Savina’s improvisation, all the common harmonies, every voice’s colors are important, as is the work of Takis Farazis [arrangements and piano], who is in great form.» The trio’s collaboration at the Pallas Theater is based on the element of surprise. «A new dimension and a new point of view,» according to Farantouri. This is a musical game based on creativity, imagination and surprises with esteemed musicians as traveling companions: David Lynch (wind instruments), Thomas Constantinou (celllo), Dionysis Varvitsiotis (violin), Petros Varthakouris (base) and Yiannis Angelopoulos (percussion). For anyone wondering how the three women coexist on stage and what kind of conflict and competition might arise, the answer comes from Paspala: «Don’t go looking for friction; there isn’t any. We usually look for opportunities for collaborations. None of us belongs to the category of cheap entertainer,» says the artist. As for Yannatou, the artist is a frequent traveler, albeit a low-profile one, who appears at various world music festivals around the globe. At the Pallas, part of her program includes material she has, over the years, presented with her band, Primavera en Salonico. At the Pallas Theater (5 Voukourestiou, tel 210.321.3100). Starts at 9 p.m.