Lyra - Orpheus Newsletter May/June 1997 Edition
A team of Orpheus Dance Troupe members will be traveling to Thessaloniki, Greece this summer for a series of performances at the 51st Pan-Macedonian Convention of USA & Canada and the 7th World Convention of Macedonians. Convention delegates will include participants from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany and other countries where Greeks from Macedonia, Greeces northern region, have made their homes. Both conventions take place in Thessaloniki, Greece every four years and this years events will be held between July 19 and July 26. This years conventions are especially noteworthy, as the city of Thessaloniki has been awarded the distinction of being the Cultural Capital of Europe for 1997. The year-long tribute has included special exhibits and events celebrating the history and beauty of the city, as well as concerts featuring various Greek and international performers.
The Orpheus Dance Troupes participation
is being arranged through the Pan-Macedonian Youth Association and the troupe, apart from
performing, will have the opportunity to tour sights throughout Macedonia. The program for
the participating youth includes excursions to Perea/Agia Triade Beach, Nymfeo, the
archaeological sites of Dion at the foot of Mount Olympus, city tours of Kastoria and
Pella (birthplace of Alexander the Great), Petralona (one of the most popular cave sites),
swimming outings at Kalikratia and Sani Beach in Chalkidiki, receptions with Greeces
governing authorities and much more. The Orpheus Dance Troupe, along with the rest of the
youth participants, will stay at Anatolia College which is located in Panorama, a suburb
of Thessaloniki. Anatolia College is a highly respected educational institution with a
long history in Thessaloniki.
Needless to say, this will be a
once in a lifetime experience for the Orpheus members participating in this exciting
endeavor. This marks the first time the troupe will perform in Greece and it offers a
unique opportunity for its members to demonstrate and experience the folk traditions of
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Customs: The Clarinet in Greek Folk Music (Part 1)
By James N. Stoynoff
| Since few documented sources exist to chronicle the
history of Greek folk clarinet tradition, recent studies have had to rely for the most
part on the recollections of elder musicians. These accounts would indicate that the
clarinet first appeared in mainland Greece around 1830-35. It may also have been
introduced to the Ionian Islands from Italy around the same time. Its use here, however,
has been confined to classical and marching music as evidenced by its total absence from
island folk ensembles. Since that time it has had an increasingly prominent role in Greek
Folk music, which hitherto was played on various native woodwinds such as the floyera or
shepherds flute. In fact, by the turn of the century it had become an indispensable
part of the folk music ensemble, all but replacing the floyera as the lead instrument. It
is believed that Ottoman Turkish military bands, found throughout the Balkans in the 19th
century, introduced the clarinet to this region.
During the reign of the reform-minded Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839), an imperial music school was established to train the army in newly-adopted Western instruments and music theory. One of the instructors, known at court as Donizetti Pasha, was in fact a brother of the famous Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. With military bands attached to garrisons throughout the Ottoman empire, local folk musicians who were mostly gypsies got their first glimpse of these modern instruments including the clarinet. Noted for their keen musical instincts, the gypsies immediately recognized the clarinets potential role in folk music and correctly anticipated its acceptance by patrons since anything Western European was considered in vogue. Having greater range, technical capacity and tonal variety, it quickly took the melodic lead, allowing much greater embellishment of traditional folk melodies. Successfully adapting the clarinet (Gr: KLARINO) to this music also meant addressing certain technical difficulties, particularly since the micro-tonal intervals of Greek modes place considerable demands on the evenly tempered clarinet--essentially requiring that it be systematically untuned to accommodate intervals as small as the Pythagorean coma (1 coma = 23 cents or approximately 1/9 tone). Since some positions on the clarinet are more conducive to producing these effects, players generally prefer certain keys for certain pieces. Consequently, many traditional stereotype phrases developed in a particular key (fingering position) are often only practical in that key. In earlier years the cost and relative scarcity of instruments prompted many players to fashion their own homemade clarinets out of suitable materials such as boxwood. Mouthpieces were also hand crafted occasionally from such exotic materials as elk antlers or the like (a practice still followed by at least one famous player well into the 1950s!).
Today, of course, commercially produced
reeds and mouthpieces are in abundant use. Without exception, these homemade instruments
were modeled after the Albert system clarinets of the era, in some cases having as few as
five keys. Since forked fingerings on the Albert system are identical to those of the
floyera, players found transition to this system to be an extension of fingering
techniques they had already developed for specific ornamentations. This factor, as well as
the Alberts sonority and less cumbersome hardware, explains why its still
preferred to this day over the Boehm by folk clarinetists in Greece and Turkey, and to an
extent in neighboring countries.
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
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Orpheus Visits Socrates School
What comes in small packages, has a lot of energy and a lot of spirit? The children of Socrates Greek American school. Over 200 students and their families enjoyed the Greek Independence Day Celebration at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Chicago on March 25th. During the last hour of the celebration, the Orpheus Dance Troupe was invited to perform and lecture on Greek folk dancing.
The students were very
entertained by the colorful costumes and dances performed by the troupe, as well as the
troupes educational presentation which described the origin and history of the
costumes and dances showcased for this event. Socrates student Maria Seretis noted I
loved how the costumes looked and I want to learn [how to dance] Dimitroula. At the
end of the performance, the junior high school students joined the members of Orpheus to
sing and dance Kamakaki[dance from the island of Salamina]. Second grader
Lambros Floros commented, I want to dance just like that, its really
cool!. At the conclusion of the event, members of the Orpheus Dance Troupe spent
time with the students to encourage their interests in Greek Folk dancing and express the
importance of learning about their ethnic culture and heritage through folk dance and
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On May 5th, the Orpheus Dance Troupe conducted
another presentation of Greek folk music, costumes and dances at Concordia University in
River Forest. The presentation was part of Professor Harrisons class, World Music
and Cultures, which brings area ethnic musicians and dancers to the lecture room and
allows students to experience first hand what is covered in their textbooks. This marked
the fourth time that the Orpheus Dance Troupe has visited Prof. Harrisons class
accompanied by Jim Stoynoff and the Hellenic Five orchestra. Mr. Stoynoff and company
conducted a musical journey of Greek musical elements and later accompanied the Orpheus
Dance Troupe during their dance presentation. The troupes appearances at Concordia
University has attracted considerable attention from the local and university press. In
particular, a picture of the troupe was featured in the Concordia University 1996 Annual
Report accompanying an article on Prof. Harrisons class. Similar coverage has
appeared in the universitys alumni and student newspapers. The Orpheus Dance Troupe
always looks forward to appearing at Concordia University, and together with Jim Stoynoff
and the Hellenic Five orchestra, is proud to support the efforts of Concordia University
to promote and preserve musical traditions and customs from around the world.
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|The Orpheus Dance Troupe welcomes Elia Christopoulos,
Carol Kotsiopoulos, Valerie Maglaras, Mike Mandas,
Magdalene Pipiros, Barbara Roumeliotis and Polytime Vellos
who joined the troupe in April.
|Congratulations to Sophia Prassas for her first performance
with the Orpheus!
|Congratulations to Andy and Mary Pagones for the birth of their
second child Elias Andrew, born April 1st.
|Happy Birthday to Katerina Economou, daughter of
Elizabeth, who will celebrate her first birthday on May 11th.
Most Vivid Orpheus Memory:
|My most vivid memory was my first performance. I danced at our
societys dinner dance in front of people I knew. I was extremely nervous. It is also
my most vivid memory because it was the last time I saw my uncle before he passed away.
The thing he liked most about my sister and me was our dancing. He promised me when I
first joined the troupe he would be at my first performance and he flew from Greece to be
Editors Note: The preceding feature "Spotlight On Orpheus Dancer will include short biographical profiles of Orpheusmembers.
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