ASTORIA – Composer Linos Kokotos enchanted the audience at the Greek Cultural Center (GCC) in Astoria on February 15 with his performance alongside Tasos Papaioannou, Serafim Lazos, and Giannis Papalas. The event concluded a trio of performances in the New York area for the legendary composer of the Neo Kyma (New Wave) which began on his birthday, February 8, at the Kefalonian House in Astoria.
The audience filled the GCC to see and join in the singing with Kokotos on piano, Papaioannou on guitar and vocals, Lazos also on guitar and vocals, and Papalas, a native of Ikaria, on bouzouki.
“In the 46 years of the GCC, I consider it to be one of the most beautiful nights of music,” GCC President Iraklis Kremmidas said after the concert.
Besides performing his classic songs of the New Wave era, Kokotos also introduced two new songs which have yet to be released.
Kokotos gave the welcoming remarks and thanked the Greek community for welcoming him again to New York. He also shared his thoughts and memories as he introduced each song during the performance adding a level of warmth and humor to the event with his easy charm.
The audience members were also not shy about singing along and also calling out a request here and there during the concert. Kokotos and his fellow musicians were only too happy to oblige the appreciative audience. Asking the crowd if they wanted to here another song, or if they were tired, Kokotos was greeted with enthusiasm for one more song, concluding the night’s performance with an encore of To Delfinokoritso, made famous by singer Michalis Violaris. The song was one of the hits written by Kokotos with lyrics by Odysseas Elytis from the well-known album To Thalassino Trifylli. As everyone sang along, Lazos claimed not to know the lyrics, so Papaioannou quickly coached him in learning the song’s resounding refrain for a charming conclusion to the performance.
Following the concert, Kokotos told The National Herald that he was returning to Greece with great memories of this latest visit.
“I have no words. I felt I was really in what I love. When I first came to New York and performed at the Chios House in October 2013, I thought it was beautiful, but I was wondering if I could come back. This time, I was filled with even more intense emotions, because I saw and met again people I had kept in my mind for their standing, the way they conduct themselves, and their great love for Greece,” said the well-known composer.
Concerning the boite era and the period when he himself started out, about 1965, Kokotos noted that there was “a great revival of letters and all the arts, not just music,” adding that “it was a step in their musical development for composers who are well-known.”
“It was a nursery, where everyone had the comfort of picking up a guitar and playing a song they didn’t know. Although they were small spaces and we were in narrow chairs so everyone could fit in the space, it was great to see the joy that was produced in the boite. Composers who are well-known today, played their first song and started there,” said Kokotos.
He also shared a message to the Greek community, saying that “no matter how many years they are living outside of Greece, to never forget their roots,” noting that “the young people will be the link for the future.”
“I will say that for the concert we had with the Athenians’ Society, I had asked Tasos Papaioannou to include young people, especially first generation Greek-Americans. For me, it was the most moving experience, seeing these young people play a cello, a kanonaki, and even a second bouzouki and give me the sound I wanted. These young people will keep Hellenism and the memories of the homeland,” Kokotos said.
Among those present were many members of the community, including Popi Michalatos, Lambrini Moustaka, Maria and Christos Vangelatos, Joanna and Elias Neofotistos, Dora Gotsis, and Frosso Tsouka.