Happy New Year everyone! Now that the holiday events have subsided
and the snow on the streets is clearing out, the planning for 1999 has
started for OHFS and its members.
The expansion of the Dance Troupe's repertoire, the continued improvement
of OHFS's newsletter and website, the promotion of the Orpheus Youth Group,
the search for challenging venues for the Orpheus Dance Troupe, the purchase
of new costumes, the enrichment of OHFS's educational resources and their
best utilization in order to serve its mission are some of the goals for
The success that OHFS enjoyed during its 10th Year Anniversary Benefit
last November will without a doubt be of assistance in the implementation
of the above programs. A big heartfelt Thank You goes to all of the
OHFS supporters that made November 6, 1998 probably the most memorable
night in its history! In addition to the ever critical financial
support that OHFS received from the community, its members received
a vote of confidence for their accomplishments and a big morale boost
for their future endeavors.
The OHFS display at the James Thompson Center two weeks prior
to the Benefit was well received and all flyers and newsletters were taken
by onlookers passing through the lobby of this downtown landmark.
The display featured posters, photographs, costume pieces and books related
to Greek folk traditions. Many thanks to Pat Michalski, assistant
to the governor for ethnic affairs, for her assistance.
A new Board of Directors will be installed in February for the 1999-2000
period. The Board oversees the daily operation of the organization
and has a two-year limit. Eligible to participate is any Orpheus
member willing to undertake and be committed to carrying out the organization's
The continued success of OHFS' public service will not be realized
in its entirety unless the Greek American community and particularly its
younger members take advantage of the quality programs that have been developed
over these last ten years. It is equally important that the Greek
American family, as a unit, prepares and encourages its children to join
such endeavors. Today's youth is occupied with a variety of extra
curricular activities such as sports, music, scouts or clubs. Spare
time, even for middle or high school students, has become a premium and
along with their parents they are struggling to make the right choices
for investing that time as constructively as possible. Not only do
OHFS programs offer many of the benefits that other activities do, but
they also offer the Hellenic dimension. The past ten years have proven
that a consistent quality program can become a reality in the Greek community
and that a team of dedicated young people are committed to supporting it
as long as the community appreciates it and becomes part of it.
We, at OHFS thank you again for your support over the last ten years
and we look forward to your encouragement and participation in our activities
in the years to come.
Letter to the
The following letter was received
following OHFS 10th Year Anniversary Benefit:
Even though I will be seeing you this coming Monday when the dance
troupe performs for my Music of World Cultures course here at Concordia,
I wanted to get a letter off to you to thank you for inviting me to the
ensemble's anniversary celebration last Friday evening.
I was honored to have had such a generous invitation extended to
me and looked forward to the event. I had no idea how impressive
an experience I would have! Everything was done with pride and distinction
and it was obvious to me why the ensemble has developed such an impressive
reputation in the ten years of its existence.
I was made to feel welcome by all the troupe members who saw me as
well as the musicians that performed. It was especially enjoyable
to be able to see the full group dance in a space more conducive to its
dances than the performance space we offer you here at Concordia.
The enthusiasm and pride I noted in the audience were wonderful to be surrounded
by. I certainly can empathize with their connection to culture
as I am involved in performances and celebrations related to my own Scottish
background and have similar feelings for our dances, food, music, family
I truly appreciate having been included in such an important event
for you and your group. I am grateful for the time and energy you
give to the presentations the ensemble has made to my class over the past
few years and hope the connection continues. I know how much my students
have benefitted from what they have seen and heard each time you come.
Personally, I have learned a great deal and always look forward to your
visits to strengthen my understanding of Greek culture through the music
and dancing. What you and your group do are a vital part of what
makes Chicago a great city.
May God continue to richly bless both the members of your group and
the fine work that they do. Teaching and artistry are essential to
the preservation of culture.
Jean E. Harrison
Assistant Professor of Music Education
In addition, following are statements
from guests that attended OHFS Benefit:
" Every time I watch the Orpheus Dance Troupe perform, something
moves inside me. These young people have to be commended for their
hard work, dedication and personal sacrifice. I am particularly happy
about the overwhelming turnout from the community during this event.
OHFS has represented the Greek community in an excellent fashion and I
want to congratulate them for all of their efforts"
Honorable Nicholas Zafiropoulos,
General Consul of Greece in Chicago
"OHFS has been the most remarkable effort in the Greek American community
during the last ten years. This is the type of program that has to
be supported by all. Congratulations and I am looking forward to
future events from Orpheus such as this one."
Demetris Kozonis, Chairman,
Chicago-Athens Friendship Committee .
A Big Thank You to our Costume Donors!
Mr. and Mrs. James Anderson
Mr. and Mrs. Dravilas
Greek Town Gift & Music Shop
Mr. Demetrios Kozonis - Delko Costruction
National Bank of Greece
Mr. John Petenes-In Memory of His Mother Virginia
Mr. Larry Saravakos
Dr. George Sianis & Family
Woodfire Chicken Restaurant
Dr. Demetrios Zikos
Mr. William Touloumis
Mrs. Maria Davis
Mr. Manthos Economou
St. Paul Federal Bank
Fountain Blue Restaurant
Mr. and Mrs. Giannakopoulos.
Top of Page
Eptanisa form a geographic, historic and administrative unit of seven primary
islands stretched along the western edges of Epiros, Sterea Ellatha, and
the Peloponnese. The exception being the island of Kithira which is located
south of the Laconia area of the Peloponnese. The islands, in land mass
order, are: Kefalonia, Kerkyra, Zakinthos, Lefkatha, Kithira, Ithaki, and
Paxzi, which are all surrounded by a number of smaller islands. They belong
to the administrative district of the Ionian islands except for Kithira
which belongs to the Piraeus state.
Historically these islands never formed one united political body.
Instead, each island was independent up until the Venetian rule which started
with the occupation of Kerkyra in the 14th century and lasted until the
take-over of Lefkatha in the 17th century, when, they united with
the Venetian government as a colony with the capital in Kerkyra. The islands
passed on to French rule in 1797. They were for a short time period under
the rule of the Sultan in the form of a Ionian State' under the protection
of the Russian state (1800). They were returned to France in 1807 and finally
were recognized as the United State of the Ionian Islands' under the protection
of the British (1815). In 1864 Britain gave the islands to Greece as a
gift' after the election of George the First as King of the Greeks. The
most recent history of the islands is characterized by constant struggles,
either for issues of social equality or independence and for the unification
with mainland Greece.
The Eptanisa have many western influences which are evident in their
songs, music and costumes. In the songs we find principal western
choral forms and serenades which resemble Italian songs and more infrequently
older forms in traditional tunes. In any rate, in some very old songs the
tunes are restricted by Byzantine remnants both in structure and meter
of the lyrics. Their subject matter is similar to those of the rest of
Greece, that is to say- historical, old parables, love, irony, carols,
and other themes.
The music is also choral, but there are many examples of older non-choral
melodies. In Ithaki and Kefalonia we encounter melodies originating from
Constantinople, obviously due to the contact with sailors and foreigners
from Constantinople and the Danube area.
The instruments that accompany the songs and dance are the
violin, the guitar and sometimes the clarinet according to the influence
of the opposite shore. The older musical instruments in the villages are
the "tsampouna" (in Kefalonia), the "niakara" (Byzantine anakara') which
is a type of small zournas' (Zakinthos) and there are indications that
earlier the lyra was played (Kerkyra).
If in the realm of song, music, and dance, common elements between
the islands have been clearly shown to exist, in costume, and primarily
in female dress, this is very difficult to show. Each island has shaped
its own type of dress. We can say that each has been influenced by the
West. The cut of the clothing is European in style and the materials used
are expensive and usually imported, primarily in the urban centers. Women,
primarily from Kerkyra and Lefkatha, adorned themselves with expensive
jewelry on the chest and wore precious earrings and gold, studded with
pearls and semi-precious stones. The jewelry was a gift from the groom
and was purchased from local area goldsmiths or traveling jewelers.
The men wore vrakes' (baggy pants) cut in different styles, a vest,
a belt, and covered their heads with either a kerchief, a fez, or a hat.
OHFS Second Annual
For the second year, OHFS members along with
friends and relatives had their annual Vasilopita gathering. This
year's host was Mrs. Dina Sianis who generously offered her house for this
enjoyable affair. The fellowship and warm spirit made up for the
frigid conditions and piles of snow that were outside. Elizabeth
Economou was again the recipient of the Vasilopita coin and all the good
luck that accompanies it. Spending time outside
dance practice, performances or other organizational affairs had been a
rare occasion for OHFS members during a particularly busy 1998 and catching
up with others was refreshing.
A big thank you to Dr. George Sianis, Mrs.
Dina Sianis and their daughter Sophia for their hospitality. Their
support and friendship to OHFS has been invaluable through the years.
"Kai tou Hronou" (until next year).