Today, the music of pianist and composer Eleni Karaindrou. Born in a remote mountain village in Greece, Karaindrou was raised in Athens from the age of eight onwards, studied music in Athens and Paris, then founded the Laboratory for Traditional Instruments at the ORA Cultural Centre in Athens.
She's best known for her music for theatre and film, but she's also a life-long advocate for the traditional music of Greece -- often using folk instruments in her work, although not the old folk melodies themselves. "I don't mix up folk music with my own concepts," she explains. "The sounds and colours of some of the instruments have a part to play -- that's all -- because they've been ringing in my head my whole life. I use them to paint pictures as my imagination dictates. My interest in traditional music and my work as a composer I see as two separate streams. Only once did I try to mix them. I knew a flute player, a gypsy, and a fantastic improvisor. I tried to bring him into my music. For four days and nights he knocked himself out trying to play what I'd written. It made me so sad. I felt like I had taken a beautiful bird and put him in a cage. In his own music he was so free. And I said: basta! - never again."
Above, "Ulysses' Theme," composed for Ulysses' Gaze, a 1995 film by Theódhoros Angelópoulos -- the story of Greek filmmaker on a quest, with echoes of Homeric myth.
Below, "Medea: Ceremonial Procession," composed for Antonis Antypas' staging of Euripedes' great play at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus in 2011.
Above, "Medea: On the Way to Exile" (2011).
Below, "Trojan Women: Third Stasimon (My beloved, your soul is wandering)," composed for an earlier collaboration with Antonis Antypas: a staging of Euripedes' timeless anti-war play in 2001.
All of Karaindrou's albums are wonderful, but these three are particularly stunning. I also recommend her live album (a double CD), Elegy of the Uprooting.
The watercolor paintings above and below are from The Wanderings of Odysseus and Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliffe (1920-1992), beautifully illustrated by my friend and village neighbor Alan Lee.