Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society Newsletter
July/August 1997
Previous issues of Lyra
Orpheus Joins Serbian Celebrations
Folk Customs:  The Clarinet in Greek Folk Music (Part 2)
St. George School Visits Orpheus
Thursday Nights
Spotlight On Orpheus Dancer
Personal Announcements
Orpheus Joins Serbian Celebrations
During the month of June, the Orpheus Dance Troupe performed at two Serbian Orthodox parishes in Chicago.  The first event took place at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Church, located on the northwest side of Chicago and organized by the members of the local Serbian folk dance group, Soko.  The local group organizes several fundraising activities during the year where other Serbian dance groups participate.  These groups come not only from the Chicago land area but from other states as well.  This year, troupes from Michigan and New Jersey were present.   The Orpheus Dance Troupe was invited for the second time to be part of this event, which is characterized by non-stop high energy dancing.  On Sunday, June 29, the Orpheus Dance Troupe visited St. Simeon Serbian Orthodox Church, located on Chicago’s south side.  The event was a celebration of the historic victory of the Serbian army against the Ottoman Empire at the historic battle of Kosovo in 1389.  It is considered to be one of the critical battles that stopped the advancement of the Ottoman forces into Western Europe.   The event was organized by the Serbian National Defense Council and was attended by representatives of all Chicago land Serbian parishes.  Among the numerous guests in attendance were Metropolitans and Bishops from the Serbian Orthodox Church.   The performance of the Orpheus Dance Troupe was enthusiastically received by the audience.  The hospitality that both Serbian communities extended towards the Orpheus members was very gracious, and members of the Serbian groups complemented them on their appearance.   One element that left an impression on the Orpheus Dance Troupe from their participation in these events, is the unlimited support that the Serbian Dance Troupes receive from their communities.  On a weekly basis, the parents and parish members  organize activities for the dance groups, which consist of several age levels.  Every year, these groups make  several trips to other Serbian communities throughout the United States and Canada.  It is worthwhile mentioning, for example, that during St. Simeon’s 30th anniversary celebration that took place last year, 22 dance groups participated in the festivities!  It is really an eye opening experience to observe these young Serbian Americans maintaining their heritage while supporting and enjoying each other’s company with such enthusiasm.
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Folk Customs:  The Clarinet in Greek Folk Music (Part 2)
By James N. Stoynoff

   As Belgian, French and Germany factory instruments became more accessible, clarinets in various pitches also gained popularity.

   Initially for example, high-pitch “B-flats” and A’s were common.  Before agreement on standard tuning was reached, clarinets in such novel pitches as the Si-Naturale or B-natural were also to be found.

  Beginning in the 1920s, however, low-pitch C clarinets became the trend.  Since weddings and village festivals requiring music were usually held outdoors, the C’s brilliant tone and projection made it an ideal choice before amplification became available.  Occasionally, though, a primitive form of amplification was achieved by lining the mouthpiece pallet with a thin layer of wax to increase sound volume.  Likewise, in accompanying the C clarinet, lutes, violins and the santouri (dulcimer) were no longer required to transpose or “tune-down”, thus affording them much crisper tone and audibility.

  During the same period, Greece’s emerging recording industry provided unprecedented opportunities to folk clarinetists whose recordings enjoyed great popularity both in Greece and among emigrants to America.

   Well-known players representing various regional styles were brought to Athens by Pathe, Columbia and His Master’s Voice to record folk dances, ballads, improvisations and even laments.

  These renderings (typically done in C clarinets) are especially significant since this generation of musicians originally played the floyera, and their subsequent clarinet styles approximate how melodies, which had never been notated, were likely to have been played prior to the advent of disc recording.  As a result, music which has developed through oral tradition could now be permanently preserved.

  Of the many clarinetists associated with this era, there was no finer technician than Kostas Karayiannis (1887-1957) whose superb tone and artistry influenced virtually every one of his contemporaries.  The recent discovery of 28 solos recorded by Karayiannis on a C clarinet ensures that this important part of his musical legacy will be available to future generations, unlike thousands of such master discs which were unfortunately destroyed during the subsequent German occupation.

   Beginning in the ‘50s, commercial demands on the recording industry for innovation prompted younger clarinetists to seek out new stylistic elements which could be incorporated in their playing.  Consequently, today we are seeing the infusion of Ala-Turka or Turkish motifs characterized by their own well-defined folk clarinet style.  This is also accompanied by a greater use of G clarinets, which for decades had been used exclusively by Turkish players.

   Although the C, A and G continue to be used for certain applications, B-flats are currently the most prolific both in vocal accompaniment as well as in solo performances.

  Through the course of its 160-year history in Greece, the clarinet has become and remains an inseparable part of the folk genre.

   As musicologists have noted, Greek folk music with its unique modes and rhythms could not have reached its present level of technical artistry without the clarinet -- a further tribute to this instrument’s profound expressive power.

James N. Stoynoff is a native Chicagoan of Greek Macedonian background who began studying the clarinet in 1962 and since that time has specialized in the research, performance and preservation of Greek Folk Music, with particular emphasis on the regional Folk Clarinet styles of Greece and Turkey. These unique and highly embellished musical motifs have proven virtually impossible to transcribe accurately using basic music notation. They have, however, managed to survive to this day as part of a rich oral tradition -- having been handed down from generation to generation. In this regard Jim was fortunate to have studied such masters as Anestopoulos, Stamelos, Halkias, and Saffet, who not only taught him the secrets of their artistry, but also provided a deeper insight into the historical evolution of this music. Jim performs regularly in Chicago at major functions within the Greek community and has appeared throughout the U.S. as well as in Greece. In addition to recording and TV/Radio productions, he also gives lectures/ performances and contributes articles on Balkan folk clarinet to various publications.

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St. George School Visits Orpheus
    Last May, several students from St. George Greek School attended Orpheus’ dance practice.  The visit was arranged by their school dance teacher Mrs. Dina Sianis, who has been a long time friend of Orpheus.  Mrs. Sianis thought  it would be beneficial for her students as well as their parents to attend one of Orpheus’ practices so they could witness first hand the methodology and dance techniques that are applied by the Orpheus instructors.  In fact, some of the students joined the practice line!  According to Mrs. Sianis, both students and parents were impressed by the discipline during the practice session as well as the fellowship among Orpheus members.  In the past, Orpheus instructors had visited Mrs. Sianis’ class and conducted workshops for the students.

   The Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society always seeks the opportunity to offer its resources and services to Chicago’s Greek American schools in order for these young students to appreciate and respect their heritage and cultural tradition.

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Thursday Nights
By:   Anthi Georgakopoulos & Kathy Tomaras

It’s Thursday night the time has come 
to put on your dance shoes and have some fun!! 

We all get together and learn to dance 
Kosta and Yianni put us in a trance. 

Pousnitsa and Gaida work for the guys 
while the girls sit aside and roll their eyes. 

Dimitroula and Fisouni are for girls to dance 
when the music starts they start to prance. 

Now the beginners’ class comes to an end 
that’s when Marianna starts to attend. 

A performance is coming, we must prepare 
so talk out loud now don’t you dare. 

Now the instructors are on the case 
they work all night at a really fast pace. 

The day of the performance we are all prepared 
with the audience our dances are shared. 

As Thursday night comes to a close 
it’s time to go home and rub our toes!! 

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Spotlight on Orpheus Dancer...
Sophia Tsipianitis

Skokie, Illinois

Parents/Family From:

Tripoli, Greece

Student at University of Illinois at Chicago
Time Dancing with Orpheus Youth Group:

Since 1995

Thoughts on Dancing:

Dancing is a way to express yourself and learn about Greek culture.  It’s a great way to meet new people and have fun, not to mention a great workout.

Favorite Dance:

Pentozali, and Cretan dances in general, like Maleviziotis, Sousta etc.

Most Vivid OHFS Memory:

Panegyri ‘96 [dance conference], in St. Louis.  After a long day of workshops, many dancers went outside to relax.  But soon, everyone stood up and started to sing and dance everything we had just learned.  It felt like we were in Greece doing dances our ancestors did hundreds of years ago.

Where I heard about Orpheus Dance Troupe:

A mixture of watching Orpheus perform, and knowing people that were Orpheus members.


Editor’s Note: The preceding feature "Spotlight On Orpheus Dancer” will include short biographical profiles of Orpheus members

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Personal Announcements
Orpheus welcomes Nikos Katsareas who joined the troupe in June.
Congratulations to Mihalis Dimoutsikos and Patricia Kakos on their engagement.
Congratulations to Peter Kanelos and Christina Gabriel on their engagement. 
Congratulations to high school graduates Peter Panagakis, Anthi Georgakopoulos,  Sophia Sianis and Niki Tottas.
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12/27/2011 08:27 AM