Haroula Tsalpara has been hailed as the modern-day Roza Eskenazi or Rita Abatzi with her in-depth vocal exploration of popular singers from early twentieth-century Greece and Asia Minor.
Now, Haroula is bringing her star power direct from Greece to serenade the Greek community in Melbourne and Sydney. Joining her on stage will be Kostas Papapanagiotou, Jenny Dixon, Niko Papadimitriou and Con Kalamaras.
Tell me a bit about your upbringing. Where does your passion for music come from?
I remember my father singing to me and playing guitar. My mother also tells me often that when I was born, she made a unique collection of lullabies, mostly Manos Hatzidakis music. There was a lot of music at home, Hatzidakis, Theodorakis, world music, classical music. I started learning music at the age of four maybe, and music is with me since then. I assume I kept on with music because it was easier for me than other things.
Do you have a favourite genre of music you prefer to perform? Why / Why not?
I think my favourite genre is generally what we call Greek-speaking Eastern Mediterranean music. Also known as “rebetika,” “cafe aman songs,” “laika,” “traditional.” I think I found my cultural, political and musical identity in that repertoire. These genres are my main influence in any of my attempts to make new music.
You’re known for breathing new life into old songs while staying true to the form of rebetika and Smyrneika. Why do you think it’s important to maintain the authenticity of old music genres, but also bring them into the new generation? How do you do this?
I was mesmerised by the sound of the 78 rpm recordings. I found a lost world there, a world much closer to me than the world I lived in. And I think it was not only me that felt like this. I loved the way people sung and spoke back then, the way they actually pronounce the words. Also, I loved their way of playing together, loyal to the power of the team, and not to one person. I loved the way those people were at peace with imperfection. I also loved their way of playing, which might seem kind of “unorthodox” to our ears. So I try not to mimic their music, but to understand their way of thinking. I believe we can still learn a lot from them.
What can people expect from your Australian tour?
If they are Greek, they should expect to listen to songs familiar to them, and some others I would like to introduce to them. If not Greek, I will be glad to introduce them to Greek music and spirit!
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I’m so excited to come to Australia in order to do what I still love most in my life: Play music! I’m also very happy to play with Kostas Papapanagiotou, I’ve heard so much of him, and of course dear Con Kalamaras, whom I already know from Greece, Jenny Dixon and Niko Papadimitriou! Australia, here I come!