NEW YORK – Renowned composer/performer Periklis Kanaris and his group Synolon performed their final concert in the Unplugged series on June 20 at Drom on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The concert completed a successful two-year run for Kanaris and Synolon presenting their unique take on Greek songs at various concert venues in New York and offering the audience unforgettable music.
The night was emotionally charged as it marked the end of a journey for Kanaris.
“I feel very full, now that the ‘Unplugged’ series of concerts is over, because it was an idea I wanted to realize for a long time. These concerts were an orchestration experiment, it was the presentation of classical Greek songs in a manner unusual for the New York music scene. Very important non-Greek musicians added their own ‘color’ and contributed to the success of this effort. I believe that all this has been achieved and that gives me great pleasure,” Kanaris told The National Herald.
The finale featured some of the best moments of the entire series, with multiple guests from the New York music scene. Performing with Kanaris- voice/piano/director, were Agapitos Magkanaris- bouzouki/vocals, Peter Douskalis- guitars/assistant director, Jessie Reagen Mann- cello, Giancarlo de Trizio- percussion, and Series Finale guests Athan Hilaki- guitar/voice, Sofia Tzinis- voice, Nektarios S. Antoniou- voice, Caroline-Stephanie Malakasis- voice, and Gary Schreiner- accordion.
In using only acoustic instruments, the “Unplugged” approach takes the listener back to the basics of the song, creating an intimate music setting that encourages audience participation. The repertoire is a mix of Kanaris originals and Greek classics arranged by the composer, blending his influences of contemporary Greek, American, and orchestral music that have shaped his sound over the years.
Throughout the concert, the audience participated enthusiastically. All the voices joined in with the outstanding artists, created a warm, genuine atmosphere. The varied program included rebetika, laika, and entechna, as well as original compositions. Kanaris’ guests were great artists who have appeared with him in previous Unplugged concerts, giving us a unique finale that included the best moments of this two-year long journey of the talented composer and group.
Kanaris impressed the audience with his original arrangements that transformed the old favorites. The songs touched the hearts of the audience, “And then everything looked magical” but not “for a moment” as the song’s verse says, it was forever, as long as everyone sang along with Kanaris.
The first part of the concert, included songs by well-known composers Manos Hadjidakis, Yannis Spanos, Christos Nikolopoulos, and Thanos Mikroutsikos among others.
Nektarios Antoniou sang Asteri tou Voria (Star of the North) with his powerful voice and impressive stage presence. The wonderful Caroline Malakasis reminded us of the favorite melodies of Eleftheria Arvanitaki, while Sofia Tzini performed perfectly songs made famous by Haris Alexiou.
The second part featured favorite rock ballads by artists such as Pix Lax, Lavrentis Macheritsas, Ypogeia Revmata, and many others, performed passionately by Athan Hilaki.
In the third part, many well-known rebetika and folk songs of great artists such as Giorgos Zampetas, Marios Tokas, Elias Andriopoulos, Stavros Xarchakos were performed. Agapitos Magkanaris on voice and bouzouki filled the space with unforgettable melodies to the delight of the Greek and non-Greek members of the audience in the crowded Drom.
Throughout the concert, the talented Kanaris enchanted the audience with songs including Tous rolous pou then paixame (The roles we did not play), Mia petalouda (A Butterfly) with the verses of Manos Eleftheriou. His last song, the ballad Gia mia stigmi (For one moment), he dedicated to his wife, Anna Maria.
Kanaris’ return to Drom was particularly emotional for the renowned artist, since he first played there in 2008. He presented his own work elsewhere at times and now returned playing his own compositions.
Kanaris has built a significant career in music in Greece and the United States. In 2007, the Metropolitan Museum of Art selected him to edit the first Greek music collection “Music of Greece” issued by the museum, to inaugurate its new Greek and Roman Galleries.
His composition “Project Innocence,” originally written for film, was given its world-premiere at New York’s Carnegie Hall in May 2007. In 2008, Kanaris founded the band Synolon and in October 2014 he released his debut album Aoratos, seven original songs that were composed to the verses of acclaimed Greek poet Manos Eleftheriou and sung by prominent Greek vocalists including Vasilis Papakonstantinou, Kostas Makedonas, Rita Antonopoulou, and Lamprini Karakosta, among other world-class musicians from Athens and New York.
Kanaris is also the composer and lyricist of the song Stin Ygeia Mas, the theme of the highly successful Greek TV program of the same name hosted by Spyros Papadopoulos.
Kanaris is currently working on a new album in melodic poetry, which he will perform next summer in Greece. We wholeheartedly wish him all the best in his endeavors and continued success.