Music in the footsteps of El Greco

Performance

Greece – Italy - Spain

Realisations
– Athens Concert Hall, Athens, Greece, November 2014
– Heraklion Festival, Greece, September 2016
– Grand Teatre de Quebec, Canada, October 2018
– Salle Burgie, Montreal, Canada, October 2018
– Conque Festival, France, July 2019

Line up (under discussion)
Maria Farantouri: voice
Marco Beasley: voice
Suzie Leblanc: soprano

Ensemble Constantinople
Kiya Tabassian: setar, voice
Pierre-Yves Martel: viola da gamba
Enrike Solinis: baroque guitare, théorbe
Patrick Graham: percussion

Ensemble “En Chordais”
Kyriakos Petras: violin
Kyriakos Kalaitzidis: oud, voice
Drosos Koutsokostas: voice
Vasileios Zopoglou: qanun
Petros Papageorgiou: percussion

Elias Andreoulakis: lyra from Crete
Carollos Kouklakis: lute from Crete
Achilleas Chaldaiakis: voice
Thomas Apostolopoulos: voice

Kiya Tabassian: setar, voice / artistic co-direction
Kyriakos Kalaitzidis: oud, voice / artistic co-direction
Leonidas Palaskas: sound design

The show follows El Greco’s creative journey from post-Byzantine Crete to early renaissance Rome and Venice and from there on to Toledo. In this way, the artistic adventures of Greco in the Renaissance Mediterranean and his wonderful painters universe are the starting point for a parallel musical voyage. We will travel in the musical environment of the time in three different places in the Mediterranean, and mix the Early music of Western Europe with that of Greece. A concert and “sound painting” that recreates the musical environment of the period and of the places in which the great Cretan lived and painted.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, research has shed light on many facets of El Greco’s personality and work. Nonetheless, his precise relationship to music remains a mystery although we know that El Greco was a music lover. We have only one testimony to this, but it has particular weight. His near contemporary Giuseppe Martinez relates that “he earned many ducats but he spent them all, just to have musicians hired all day, to amuse him with all pleasures, whilst he was eating.”

El Greco chose or was obliged by circumstances to alter his painterly technique, and from a typical, so to speak, representative of the post-Byzantine Cretan school, to emerge as one of the most exceptional personalities of western painting! it is a justifiable assumption that he in all likelihood found himself confronted by the same challenges with those that face musicians, especially those who are active abroad, who, starting from tradition have moved on to a dialectical relationship with global musical developments. The times are very different but the artistic imperatives and aesthetic challenges remain a common denominator.

The repertoire reflects this and indicatively includes:

– Old Cretan folk songs. Among them Erotokritos, a romance composed by Vincenzos Kornaros in late 16th century Crete. It consists of 10,012 fifteen-syllable rhymed verses. The direct model of the work is the French popular medieval romance Paris et Vienne composed by Pierre de la C‪épède which was printed in 1487. Another, almost unknown Post-Byzantine music manuscript, from the early 17th c. (Eis psila vouna).
– Works of Cretans Post-byzantine composers preserved in ancient musical manuscripts whom El Greco probably met or heard their works: Antonios Episkopopoulos (second half of 16th century), Kosmas Varanis (first half of 17th century).
– Renaissance music from the Italian period of El Greco’s life (1568-1570 Venice and 1570-1576 Rome): Madrigaux sacrés et profanes et oeuvres instrumentales de Palestrina (1526-1594), Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613) and Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
– Renaissance music from the Spanish period (Toledo 1576-1614): Villancicos, Motets, Cancioneros et oeuvres instrumentales de Luis de Milán (c. 1500 – c. 1561), Cristobal Morales ( c.1500- c.1553), Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599), Luis de Navarez (c.1500- c.1555) and Alonso Mudarra ( c.1510- 1580).
– Lyrics by Hortensio Félix Paravicino (1580–1633), music by Kyriakos Kalaitzis. Paravicino was well known poet of the time who composed the verses after his friend El Greco’s death while Paravicino’s portrait by El Greco is well known.