“Let Me Tell You a Story”

May 29, 2019

Julie Clack and Nikitas Tampakis

“Let Me Tell You a Story” brought together members of the Hellenic Studies community for a concert that attracted a large and diverse audience. Organized by Nikitas Tampakis, a developer at the Princeton University Library, the concert was planned to coincide with the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies’ 11th Annual International Graduate Student Conference in Modern Greek Studies.

“In order to showcase the talents of our Hellenic studies community, the band was comprised entirely of Princeton University students, faculty and staff,” said Tampakis. “For the month of April, we had weekly rehearsals leading up to the performance. The musicians selected the songs they wished to perform, resulting in an eclectic mix of musical styles.”

The styles included laiko, which featured a bilingual duet of Manos Hadjidakis' tune "Noble Dame," performed by Nicoletta Demetriou and Nikitas Tampakis; rebetiko, which featured a popular “zeibekiko” of Vasilis Tsitsanis called "Don't Leave Me Again,” performed with bouzouki, kanun, and viola; and contemporary, which featured two new songs with music by Nikitas Tampakis in collaboration with lyricist Christos Godas.

Several musicians performed traditional Greek music, including Nikos Michailidis, who in an emotional farewell impressed everyone with the energy of his Pontian lyra improvisation, along with Konstantinos Konstantinou on the piano; Katerina Visnjic, who performed an innovative arrangement of a Sappho poem over a traditional medieval melody that preserved the Ancient Greek meter; and Nicoletta Demetriou, who interpreted two popular Cypriot traditional songs.

Pria Louka provided a narrative introduction with translations of lyric excerpts to guide the audience for each song. 

According to Tampakis, the concert’s theme, “Let me tell you a story,” emphasized the role of song in storytelling, and aimed to provide an entertaining and informative performance for both seasoned Greek music listeners, as well as people unfamiliar with the Greek language and musical tradition.

The concert, supported by the Inglessis Family Modern Greek Studies Fund, marked the first time Hellenic Studies musicians performed at the University’s new Lewis Arts Complex.

"Stanley J. Seeger, a composer himself and a great lover of Greek music, had a vision for Hellenic studies that includes the creative arts and supports uplifting events such as this concert," said Dimitri Gondicas, the director of the Seeger Center.