‘Rebetiko unites the soul of Hellenism’: Ifigeneia Ioannou ahead of Sydney concert

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One of the stand out events of the Greek Festival of Sydney’s cultural program this year is the Rebetiko – Symphony Concert on Friday, April 21 at the City Recital Hall in Sydney.

The concert, which is being presented by the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW (GOCNSW), will see international vocalist Ifigeneia Ioannou come direct from Greece to perform classics from the iconic Rebetiko film by Costas Ferris, and the original music by Stavros Xarchakos.

The performance will also feature music by Kostas Skarvelis, Vassilis Tsitsanis and Panayiotis Toundas, under the direction of George Ellis.

Ifigeneia.

Ahead of the event, The Greek Herald spoke with Ifigeneia about her passion for rebetiko and what people can expect when she arrives in Sydney.

Please tell our readers about yourself, Ifigeneia. What inspired you to become a singer?

It was clear from early on in my life that I would become involved in music since I come from a musical family. Both my parents are professional teachers of music and my grandmother and grandfather used to sing at home. I started my musical studies from a young age with classic guitar. I attended a music school and later on a music university and that is how singing came into my life because I simply started singing the songs I listened to.

Ifigeneia playing a musical instrument.

What has been a highlight of your career so far?

I can recall a number of significant moments and collaborations with renowned artists, however I think that the highlight of my career was the moment I discovered the qanun because it opened up new musical paths for me and also helped me with my singing.

You will be performing at a Rebetiko concert in Sydney this year. What is your connection to rebetiko music?

Rebetiko is the source of Greek folk music and expresses the popular Greek soul. This music was created under conditions of poverty and migration and the lyrics speak with all the eternal things that concern everyone such as love, death, poverty, being and immigrant or refugee and so on. That was the way it spoke to my own soul when I first listened to Rebetiko songs.

Ifigeneia with other musicians.

What can people expect to see from your concert?

In the first part, together with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, we are going to present the work of the great Greek composer Stavros Xarchakos, who wrote the music for the film Rebetiko. In the second part we are going to play selected, classic Rebetiko songs that the audience can all sing along to and enjoy. 

Do you have a message for the Greek community in Australia?

Greek traditional and folk songs unite us and the soul of Hellenism because through such songs we get to share our common history once again and all the joys and sorrows we have been through. Through our music we are reunited, and I am grateful to be given the chance to contribute to the reconnection with our roots.  

Ifigeneia Ioannou.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

The invitation I received from the Greek Festival of Sydney is a great honour and I can’t wait to find myself with all these people and to celebrate with music. 

Event Details:

  • What: Rebetiko – Symphony Concert
  • When: Friday 21 April 2023
  • Where: City Recital Hall, 2 Angel Pl, Sydney
  • Book: cityrecitalhall.com or phone 02 8256 2222.
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