One of today's most talented Greek singers, Eleftheria Arvanitaki has a unique gift for combining folk and contemporary Greek music with a clarity and emotional depth that registers with anyone who hears it. On February 1, Ms. Arvanitaki performs in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage collaborating with an outstanding group of Greek musicians to achieve their unique rebitiko sound.
Rebetiko has its origins in an oral tradition where improvisation played an important role in both the music and lyrics. The music often features a rough, almost raw sounding vocal performance which reflects the musical tradition born during turbulent times in the large ports in and around Greece—specifically the resettlement of over a million Greeks refugees from Asia Minor in the 1920s—as well as the realities found in Greek underground culture and shanty towns that grew up around Athens, Piraeus and other cities. These refugees brought their music with them, and it had a prominent effect on the urban music of Greece. The songs explore the collective human experiences with themes of pain, nostalgia, tenderness, death and love. Arvanitaki’s voice and musical style has been shaped by the living tradition of rebetiko as she takes the intense emotions found in the rhythms from the Mediterranean and the Oriental worlds and fuses them with the rhythms existing in the dances of the traditional Greek feasts (or glentia).