Irish musican Ross Daly pushes the positive side of globalized music

Next to the main square in the village of Houdetsi, 20 kilometers from Iraklion in Crete, is a two-story stone manor house. Chairs scattered on the grass in front of a wooden stage in the courtyard, along with sound equipment and arc lights, announce the presence of the Labyrinthos Musical Academy. Since ancient times, Crete has been a cultural crossroads, and Labyrinthos has carried on this tradition on the musical level. It was founded in 1982 by Ross Daly, an Irish musician who has lived and worked for over two decades in Crete and who moved to the house in Houdetsi in 2002. We are welcomed by Daly’s student Kelly Thoma, a musician with the Labyrinthos music group. Cases of musical instruments line the walls. «You should see our collection of instruments, which include rare items from around the world,» said Kelly. «Go upstairs. Pedram is up there studying.» Up the winding wooden staircase, a man is playing percussion instruments, his eyes closed. Pedram, from Iran, is immersed in the magical sounds made by the palms of his hands. We leave him to it and move on to where the sounds of Giorgis Xylouris’s laouto can be heard. «Psarogiorgis,» as he is known on the island, is a teacher at Houdetsi. Last year 80 people attended seminars at the workshop; this year Daly has received applications from 150 musicians from the US, Austria, Turkey, Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands, of ages ranging from 15 to 65. «Thirty years ago, when I wanted to learn about instruments such as the Cretan laouto, the tzouras, the bulgari, the tabouras and the Afghan rabab, it was quite difficult. Here we give people from all over the world the opportunity to learn to play these instruments,» explained Daly, a music devotee for 48 years. «Technology has brought about globalization. I think that this is an irreversible trend that has both positive and negative effects. We are trying to focus on the positive. Young people from around the world come here because of their interest in the creative dimension of music. We try to help these musical idioms survive and evolve,» he explained. «Each six-day seminar costs 200 euros, including accommodation,» said Daly. «We know that a person who spends a lot of time studying music does not have much money. But the teachers are paid well thanks to subsidies from a European Union program. What we do here is very important because it is happening in a little village on Crete. It shows that the provinces are not always an outpost of civilization.» This summer the courtyard will host performances by representatives of the world music tradition, including Derya Turkan and Socratis Sinopoulos (July 28), Necati Celik and Halil Karaduman (August 12), and a tribute to Costas Moudakis (August 31). «Cretans have retained their own unique cultural character,» said Daly, whose future plans include an instrument workshop. For more information, tel 2810.741.027/43.243, or log on to Both of the articles on this page first appeared in the July 17 edition of K, Kathimerini’s color supplement.

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