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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 17 June 2017
18 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 17 JUNE 2017 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM lives on in Hydra This tourist season the island expects many visitors on a pilgrimage to honour the memory and legacy of the beloved songwriter The cover of Cohen’s 1984 Book of Mercy, adorned by the symbol of the Order of the Unified Heart, now the unofficial logo of Leonard Cohen’s fans Leonard Cohen’s spirit The famous 1964 photo of Leonard Cohen and friends ( including Australian writer Charmian Clift) singing by the tree outside Douskos’s taverna he passing of Leonard Cohen in November 2016 left a void that nobody expects to be filled; not only in the hearts of his millions of adorning fans, but in our global cultural establishment as a whole. For the former, a healing process has taken the form of a pilgrimage to a place deeply associated with the poet and songwriter: Hydra. As the first Greek summer since the trobadour's demise sets in, the small island has become a meeting point for the Order of the Unified Heart. No, this is not an official name of an entity. "There is no organisation," Cohen famously said in an interview, describing this "kind of a dream of an order" that he T had established, mostly through his work."There's no hierarchy. There's just a pin for people of a very broadly designated similar intent . . . to just make things better on a very personal level. . . . You're just not scattered all over the place. There is a tiny moment when you might gather around some decent intention." And 'gather around', they have this summer, sporting the symbol Leonard Cohen designed for the cover of an early Cohen book of poetry Book of Mercy, wearing it as a pin, or pendant, or other type of jewellery, or tattooed on their skin: two hearts, intertwined. A flag bearing the symbol was raised in front of one of the island's perennial landmarks, the famous Rolo cafe (clocktower), an action applauded by the dozens of 'Cohen Pilgrims', gathered around at the time. The Guardian reports that more than 200 fans came from all over the world - Australia, Japan, France, Lithuania, Ireland, Finland, Canada, the UK, and the US - to Hydra, during these first days of the Greek summer as the biennial gathering organised by Cohen's biggest fan club, the Leonard Cohen Forum, based in Helsinki. This was the first meeting to take place after the songwriters' passing. More fans, not 'organised' are expecting to visit the island this season, with Cohenites from all over the world travelling to pay their respects to the memory and legacy of the poet, and the place where he was transformed to one of the greatest voices of his generation. A two-day tribute to the singer’s memory took place last weekend, with a number of Cohen’s friends attending events with multitudes of fans. The unveiling of a crowd-funded beachside bench, (intended as an 80th birthday present to Cohen) added to the atmosphere, with spontaneous singalongs at the Rolo that lasted until dawn. The municipality of Hydra named a street after him - the one in which his house (still owned by his family) is situated. Cohen had bought that old stone house (without running water, plumbing or electricity) in 1960 with a US$1,500 bequest from his grandmother. He said once, “this was the smartest decision of my life.” He was 26 years old when he arrived in Hydra that year, joining a small group of expatriate artists who had moved there when the port consisted of four coffee houses and a taverna. It was there that Cohen worked on his poetry and novels in the garden, swam in the afternoons, and met up with the Australian writers George Johnston and Charmian Clift at the Rolo - which at the time was a grocery shop, kafenion O Katsikas, with a handful of tables out the front. It was there that he met and fell in love with his muse Marianne Ihlen, immortalised in his ballad So Long, Marianne. It was there that the obscure Canadian poet became a Friday nights at The Greek Centre Since opening its doors on Lonsdale Street, the Greek Centre has become a central meeting place with a host of cultural events taking place almost every night of the week. Adding to the already jam- The Lonsdale Street hub comes alive every fortnight with Live at the Greek, featuring some of Melbourne’s best musical talent The genre which is a fusion packed calendar is the return of Live at the Greek. The fortnightly music program held on Friday nights, is a chance to showcase some of Melbourne's best Greek musicians ranging from traditional to contemporary sounds. Next in line on Friday 30 June, is the return of the Epirotiko Ensemble. The group consists of members Arthur Kostarakis on clarinet, Tony Iliou on laouto, Nikos Kapralos on guitar, and John Kostarakis on percussion accompanying Polyxeni Theologidis on vocals. Together they are known to take listeners on a taxidi (journey) through the region of Epirus with their rendition of traditional songs about history, love and hardship, along with classic dance pieces. To follow, on Friday 14 July, Rebetika Revealed will celebrate the Greek urban blues. of rebetika, smyrneika and laika has seen a resurgence of late, and will see a number of guest musicians taking part. Performing on the night will be Achilles Yiangoulli (vocals, bouzouki, tzoura, bagalma, dubeleki), Jacob Papadopoulos (bouzouki, tzoura), Nikos Koutsaliotis (vocals, bouzouki), Nicholas Baltas (guitar), Agapi Gioftsidis (vocals), and Theano Milides (violin). Hosted by Anthea Sidiropoulos, the event will be made particularly special with the presence of ethno-musicologist Demeter Tsounis from Adelaide. The event coincides with her free lecture on 'Rebetika and their Asia Minor Roots', to be presented at The Greek Centre on Thursday 13 July. Live at the Greek takes place at The Greek Centre (168 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, VIC). Bar opens at 7.30 pm for an 8.30 pm start. Tickets $20 full, $18 Greek Community premium members. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit greekcentre. com.au, email tickets@ greekcentre.com.au or call (03) 9662 2722. trobadour, a songwriter. It is where his first concert took place - just Cohen with his guitar and a few friends round the back of the shop. It was from Hydra that he colonised the world. The pilgrims flocking the island to visit the places of ‘Cohenrelated significance’: his house, the taverna at Kamini, where he used to meet with friends, the tree outside Douskos's taverna, where a famous photo shows Cohen playing guitar with his friends. Veterans of that era, locals and artists are eager to share stories and memories. In July, Canada's Ryerson Theatre will perform Our Leonardo, a theatre, dance and music tribute to Cohen's early years on Hydra.
10 June 2017
24 June 2017