CARNEGIE HALL PRESENTS

Performance Saturday, February 1, 2014 | 8 PM

Eleftheria Arvanitaki

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
One of today’s most talented Greek singers, Eleftheria Arvanitaki has a unique gift for both rebetiko (a genre of folk music popular with refugees from Asia Minor in the early 20th century) and contemporary Greek music. With the distinct ability to bring together disparate music styles, her voice has a clarity and emotional depth that registers with anyone who hears it.

Performers

  • Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Vocals
  • Alexandros Arkadopoulos, Clarinet, Flute, and Kaval
  • George Georgiadis, Double Bass
  • Yannis Kirimkiridis, Acoustic Piano and Keyboards
  • Thomas Konstantinou, Mandolin, Lute, and Bouzouki
  • Alexandros Ktistakis, Drums
  • Kostas Meretakis, Eastern Traditional Percussion
  • Dimitris Tsakas, Soprano Saxophone and Nylon Guitar
  • Special Guest Ara Dinkjian, Oud and Cumbus

Event Duration

The program will last approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.

Bios

  • Eleftheria Arvanitaki


    The strength of Eleftheria Arvanitaki's voice is unlimited. It springs forth from the living tradition of rebetiko, combining styles of the Mediterranean and the Orient with those of traditional Greek folk music.

    Her career began when she was one in a group of amateur musicians who, at the beginning of the 1980s in Athens, successfully revived rebetiko. It was as the lead singer of this group, Opisthidromiki Kompania, that she made her first recordings. Her voice immediately stood out, and in 1985, she set out on a solo career as one of the most promising female vocalists in Greece. Since then, her voice and natural ability to combine traditional and contemporary Greek music have attracted the talents of renowned Greek composers, lyricists, and poets.

    In 1998, Ms. Arvanitaki was the first Greek singer to be introduced to an international audience by the Verve jazz label with the album Eleftheria Arvanitaki: The Very Best of 1989-1998. Since then, Verve has released all of her albums worldwide. She also appeared on the album Gifted: Women of the World, featuring nine female singers from around the world-including Estrella Morente and Susana Baca-who explored and celebrated the female experience.

    In 2004, Ms. Arvanitaki took part in the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Athens. During the summer of that year, Philip Glass invited her to join his project Orion, a work inspired by the musical traditions of five continents. Ms. Arvanitaki was the only European singer who participated in this project. The live recording was released in June 2005.

    In addition to her recording success, Ms. Arvanitaki gives more than 150 concerts all around the world each year. She has performed throughout Spain, Germany, Austria, UK, Belgium, France, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Finland, and more. She has also toured to Australia, Japan, South Africa, and the US. Some of her most important concerts have been two sold-out performances at the Sydney Opera House and one at the Arts Centre Melbourne.

    In September 2010, Ms. Arvanitaki traveled to the Ivory Coast as a UNICEF Ambassador. During the fall of that same year, she traveled to Hungary, where she performed at the Palace of Arts in Budapest and in the Netherlands. In December, she gave two sold-out concerts at the Athens Concert Hall to benefit the Breast Cancer Action Foundation. The following year, Ms. Arvanitaki performed a series of sold-out concerts in Athens' Pallas Theatre. She continued to the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam. She also toured Greece, Cyprus, and Central Europe.

    Her collaborations with internationally acclaimed artists such as Cesaria Evora, Téofilo Chantre, Dulce Pontes, Amaral and Carlos Núñez, Ara Dinkjian, and Arto Tuncboyaciyan are indicative of her artistic flexibility. Some of the top artistic moments of these partnerships appear in her internationally released album To the Edges of Your Eyes. One of her most important collaborations has been with two-time Grammy-winning Spanish composer and producer Javier Limón, first on her album Mirame (which combines a variety of sounds and rhythms from Greece, Spain, Cuba, and Northern Africa), and later on Limón's concept album Mujeres de Agua, along with Mariza, Estrella Morente, Buika, and La Shica.

    In October 2007, Ms. Arvanitaki accepted an invitation to participate in the Foruma Universal de las Culturas, a global event that occurs every three years and connects cultures from all over the world. Later that year, she released another compilation of greatest hits, the double-disc Dinata 1986-2007.

    Eleftheria Arvanitaki's art extends across three decades of songs that remain timeless in the Greek music scene-collaborations with important artists from all over the world and successful performances on five continents.

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Audio

"The Bodies and the Knives"
Eleftheria Arvanitaki
Real World Records

Christina Roden on Eleftheria Arvanitaki

Eleftheria Arvanitaki has come a long way since a chance encounter with like-minded rebetiko revivalists launched her singing career. Over the past 30-plus years, she has reigned supreme, inspiring the finest composers and lyricists in her native Greece and beyond. As she has matured, her exquisite soprano gradually acquired a richer, more burnished timbre even as her ability to communicate extremes of emotion has deepened.

For those who did not witness her rise to stardom unfold firsthand, a chronological study of Ms. Arvanitaki's discography proves enlightening. Beginning with her eponymous debut album (1984), her musical vocabulary has impartially embraced Orient and Occident, tradition and modernity. But although her gold- and platinum-selling catalog now includes judiciously chosen forays into the mainstream, it is assorted incarnations of her signature neo-acoustic sound that continue to garner the strongest press and fan base.

Ta Kormia Kai Ta Maheria (The Bodies and the Knives, 1994)—where she and Armenian-American oud virtuoso and composer Ara Dinkjian forged a hypnotic and sometimes explosively percussive alternative universe—is one such watermark release. Mirame (2008)—her Iberian-influenced collaboration with Grammy-winning producer Javier Limón—is another high point, crowned by the sensual title duet between Ms. Arvanitaki and Buika, a Spanish-born singer of African heritage. Dynata: 1986-2007 is a solidly inclusive two-disc retrospective. Created for the international market, it contains English liner notes and translations of lyrics. It not only permits non-Greeks to enjoy the poetry, but also allows the listener to fully appreciate Ms. Arvanitaki's skills as an interpretive artist.

Memorable singles have included "Sodade," a mutually felicitous encounter with the late Cape Verdean "barefoot diva" Cesaria Evora, and "Fotia ke Chioni," in which Ms. Arvanitaki was paired with Dulce Pontes, a revered exponent of Portuguese fado. And of course, her biggest hit to date has been "Dynata" ("Homecoming"), an infectiously danceable, ecstatic anthem that never fails to rock the house. That two of these should be live tracks is not at all unusual. In this age of auto-tune and lip-synching, the lovely and charismatic Ms. Arvanitaki is that rare singer whose voice can bear the closest scrutiny. She is frequently at her best when interacting with a live audience.

When not engaged in touring throughout Greece, Europe, and the world, Ms. Arvanitaki donates time to charitable activities, such as acting as a UNICEF Ambassador and organizing benefit concerts for the Breast Cancer Action Foundation. Her latest album is scheduled for release in the spring of 2014.


—Christina Roden is a New York-based journalist and producer.

This performance is part of Around the Globe, and Around the Globe - Students.

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