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Crete and Pontus: Sydney event captures modern Greek culture through traditional songs




On Sunday, 15 October an event showcasing Crete and Pontus through traditional music and dancing took place.

Held at the Cyprus Community Club of NSW at Stanmore, the event was hosted by the Consulate General of Greece in Sydney, in collaboration with the Pontian Association of NSW “Pontoxeniteas” and the Cretan Association of Sydney and NSW.

Many Greek Australians came along to the event, including representatives of the Greek Orthodox Community of New South Wales, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and several other associations of Sydney’s Greek community.

This unique event welcomed keynote speaker and University of Sydney Honorary Associate Dr Alfred Vincent. On the day, he did a special presentation titled, “Crete & Pontus – Two aspects of Modern Greek Culture through their traditional songs.”

In the context of his talk, Dr Vincent elaborated on the shared features found in the traditional songs and music of these two emblematic regions of the modern Greek culture, Crete and Pontus, namely the use of the fifteen-syllable verse and their thematic correlations.

Key examples included the mythical character of Digenis Akrita, the disasters suffered by the two regions over the centuries, the longing for the homeland, crypto-Christianity during the Ottoman period, as well as lyrical themes such as marriage, the love of life, etc.

Following Dr Vincent’s lecture, local musicians from Crete and Pontus also performed. The musicians were Ari Paraskakis, Alexander Mountakis, Peter Diniakos and Peter Tsenkas (Cretans), as well as Kostas Papoulidis and Prodomos Moysiadis (Pontians).

Their performance highlighted the common elements of the two traditions, “illustrating” acoustically this special “meeting” between Crete and Pontus.

A special message was also addressed by the Director of the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments “Phoivos Anogianakis”-Ethnomusicology Center, Ms Vassiliki Polyzoi, mentioning: “In the thirty years of the Museum’s operation, both emblematic musical traditions have been consistently presented as part of the Hellenism’s intangible cultural heritage. We wish the event best of success, in hope that this initiative continues to include other, equally rich musical Greek traditions and travels to other, equally dynamic Greek communities in Australia.”

In his concluding remarks, the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Mr. Ioannis Mallikourtis, congratulated the keynote speaker, noting the importance of preserving the Greek language by the Greeks in the diaspora.



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