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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 03 March 2018
18 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 3 MARCH 2018 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ‘Greek traditional music originates from people’s bodies’ Chrysoula Kechagioglou, on her way to Australia to perform with her group Purpura, talks about blending musical traditions from Greece and other countries - and what it means to be an artist from a country in crisis NIKOS FOTAKIS face - and voice - to people in Australia interested in Greek music. The ethereal singer has been to the country three times, twice with Melbourne's legendary rebetiko act the Apodimi Kompania. Which explains her presence at the Rebetiko Festival that will take place on Saturday 10 March at the Melbourne Recital Centre. Only this time, she's not coming with a rebetiko band, but with her other C hrysoula Kechagioglou is on her way to becoming a familiar project, the all-female acoustic group Purpura. The name comes from Latin - it's the word for the colour purple. "We've been looking for a name for a long time," says the singer, "because we wanted something that sounded Greek, that would sound like a word one would hear at a Greek village, but it would also be easy to read abroad, because we were interested in playing outside of Greece, from the start. “This is more complicated than one can imagine. An invitation from abroad, or an expression of interest is not enough. In order for Purpura to be able to come to Australia and tour and play at the Rebetiko Festival, and also at Sydney's Greek Festival, at Adelaide's 'Hellenica' festival, at this weekend’s Cobargo Folk Festival and at the National Folk Festival of Canberra, the band had to run a crowdfunding campaign. "It went very well, thankfully," says Chrysoula. "Nobody has money to spare in Greece at the moment, but everyone chipped in - we've even had a person who contributed despite being unemployed for two years himself. This gave us wings to fly. This is how we got to pay our fare, otherwise we'd spend six weeks here and end up returning broke. We'd come for the journey and the experience, which is very important, but it's also important to be able to pay the rent - and this is becoming a luxury in Greece at the moment." As far as accounts of what it means to be an artist in crisis-stricken Greece go, this is probably the most accurate. "The best thing that happened with the crisis is that some people who were interested in music became more focused to things that they consider authentic and true. So some 'strange' bands, like us, suddenly got a fanatic following, people who are committed, they come to our shows, they bring friends, our audience gets bigger and bigger." But what is it that makes Purpura a 'strange' band? Is it the fact that it is comprised of five women (Effie Zaitidou, kanun; Maria Ploumi, lute; Sofia Serefoglou, flute; Elsa Papeli, cello? Is it because the acoustic instruments used combine two different traditions; Greek (kanun and lute) and Western classical (cello and flute)? Is it the repertoire, comprising traditional Greek songs, and Celtic, Mediterranean, Latin American - an eclectic mix of songs from around the world? It is all that and more. "At the core, we play songs that we like," explains the singer. "And the common denominator is exactly the fact that they are played by instruments that combine different cultures themselves, it is the sounds that the instruments make which brings all the elements together. And this is our goal to show how Greek music has a place next to any other, but also how all different musical traditions around the world share a lot of common traits and themes.
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10 March 2018