Cretan lyra player and musician, Michael Platyrrahos, never fails to disappoint when he gets on a stage and proudly performs his Cretan music. In fact, he was a fan favourite when he went live on The Greek Herald’s Facebook page on September 25 to provide our readers with a little bit of joy in lockdown.
In light of this performance, The Greek Herald sat down with Mr Platyrrahos and found out all about his career and future plans.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in 1977 in Sydney, Australia. My parents are both of Cretan background. I was raised in a family environment where Cretan traditions, music, dance and the Greek language all played a major role in my upbringing and development of my character and as a person.
2. When did you first start playing the lyra and singing? What inspired you?
I started playing the Cretan lyra and singing at 10 years of age. Meeting and being mentored and tutored on a personal level about the secrets and techniques of the Cretan lyra by masters of Cretan music such as Kostas Mountakis and Spiros Sifogiorgakis, was not only a childhood dream but an everlasting inspiration that continues to motivate me even to this day through my line of thought, planning, performance and expressionism.
3. Do you have any musical highlights or performances which made an impact on you?
Each performance is unique and leaves its own impressions and memories. Whether it’s playing at an open outdoor Greek festival, a local tavern or at a concert hall, they are all different in approach and performance yet all very fulfilling from the moment you engage and continue to inspire with your music and legacy.
Having staged numerous concerts with different themes my most sentimental performances, for many emotional reasons that I will treasure for the rest of my life, are performing at the outdoor “panygyri” at my father’s village and inside the Sydney Opera House last year in the fulfilment of a childhood dream.
4. What do you love the most about playing the lyra and singing?
The music I love and specialise in from a child is traditional music from all over Greece, whether that is from Crete, the Greek islands, Asia Minor or mainland Greece. Discovering and bringing to light the music of these local traditions through contemporary musical expression is what I love the most and find rewarding in the search of these hidden gems of our musical heritage. In turn, by giving them another dimension not only for the preservation of traditional music but it’s succession and longevity into the future.
5. What would you say to someone else who wants to start playing the lyra?
Patience is a virtue. Do not give up. Everything is at your feet. All resources are a fingertip away, YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, Facebook etc even online lessons can be managed through Zoom with overseas artists.
I had none of the above when I was learning in the 80’s other than LP records and cassette tapes, very minimal resources and delayed VHS tapes coming from overseas as well as no access to teachers or musicians for advice. Yet here I am. If I could do it in the most difficult of circumstances, surely you can.
6. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I would like to thank The Greek Herald for this interview and for the opportunity to feature my music on their Live In Lockdown series on their Facebook page. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate The Greek Herald on their 95th anniversary of publication and wish them many more returns providing the Greek community with news and media content directly linking all of us with mother Greece.