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Music

Grigoris Maninakis & Mikrokosmos Ensemble Performing in Brooklyn, Nov. 13

October 24, 2021

BROOKLYN, NY – Robert Browning Associates, Lotus Music & Dance, and Roulette present New York’s celebrated champion of Greek music Grigoris Maninakis & Mikrokosmos Ensemble performing Rebetika Music “The Greek Blues” Saturday, November 13, 8 PM, at Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue at 3rd Avenue, Downtown Brooklyn. Tickets: $25 in advance; $30 at door; $20 seniors, students at door. Box office: 917-267-0363.

More information is available online: https://bit.ly/3pqF6xt.

Please note: The following is the COVID-19 policy at Roulette: Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for entry. Valid forms of proof include: Vaccination card with matching photo ID; photo of vaccination card that clearly shows your name and dates of vaccination with matching photo ID; NYS Excelsior Pass with matching photo ID; NYC COVID Safe app. Everyone entering Roulette must wear a face mask.

Grigoris Maninakis, a superb vocalist of traditional and contemporary Greek music, is joined by his Mikrokosmos Ensemble in an engaging concert of rebetika, which is often called “the Greek blues.” The foundation of popular Greek music, rebetika expresses the hardship and joys of everyday life and deals with such subjects as unrequited love, economic hardship, and repatriation. Rebetika music and songs were influenced by Greek folk song and the Byzantine music tradition, as well as by the music of Asia Minor through the refugees who were forced to leave their home in Smyrna (now Izmir in Western Turkey) in 1922. At times, rebetika was censored and its musicians ostracized; at other times, it was lauded as the greatest expression of Greek music and culture.

The Mikrokosmos Ensemble features Kostas Psarros (bouzouki, vocals), Mavrothi Kontanis (oud, violin, baglama, vocals); Megan Gould (violin, baglama), Costas Baltazanis (guitar), Angelos Papadatos (upright bass), and Steve Vavagiakis (percussion). Their extensive repertoire includes popular music of Smyrna-rooted composers Apostolos Hatzichristos and Kostas Skarvelis (early 1920s), who came to Greece after the 1922 repatriation; Markos Vamvakaris (1930s), often called the Grandfather of Rebetika; and Vasilis Tsitsanis (1940s), who elevated “rebetiko” into a prominent position in the mainstream of Greek society. Also featured are old and rarely heard songs.

Grigoris Maninakis, who has toured the U.S. and Europe, has established himself as one of the major performers of traditional and contemporary Greek music. He was a founding member of the Greek Popular Chorus, which was established in New York by the legendary composer Mikis Theodorakis in 1974, and has been involved with Greek music as a soloist and as the leader of the Mikrokosmos Ensemble since the 1980s. He appeared at Carnegie Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall and La Mama, as well as such universities as Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Yale, Rutgers, and Carnegie Mellon. He is the featured vocalist on the Café Aman Amerika CD and the similarly named orchestra that toured Greece and Europe with acclaimed performances in Salonika, the Lykavitos and Herodion theatres in Athens, and concert halls in Utrecht, Holland and Brussels, Belgium. He has released five CDs: In the Era of Internet; The Bomb, a selection of old and rare rebetika songs; Hellas of A Dream, which features songs he recorded in Athens with producer-director Costas Ferris for a series of episodes about the history of rebetika on National Greek TV; One Voice & One Piano, a set of Greek ballads with piano accompaniment; and the recent 10 plus One: Songs by Friends for Friends/ Rebetika & Popular Ballads.

A professor of engineering for 41 years at the State University of New York at Farmingdale (he retired in September 2020) and a Byzantine chanter, Maninakis is the recipient of the “Educator of the Year through the Arts” by the Hellenic Teachers Association of New York. Currently, he continues to present quality Greek music in concerts in New York and throughout the United States, and perform summer concerts in Greece.

The performance is made possible in part with public funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the New York State legislature.

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