CHANIA – The 4th Cretan World Music Festival takes place on July 19 at the Kapsomenos Foundation. The event is organized by talented world jazz violinist and festival founder Maria Manousaki who spoke to The National Herald. She noted the festival’s “very beautiful location on a hill in the village Alikianos 10 kilometers outside of the city of Chania, Crete.”
Based in New York, with roots from Chania, Manousaki said, “The festival each year features 3 different bands. A very exciting collaboration of world-renowned musicians coming together from all over the globe to perform in Crete. The music, a combination of Armenian and Cretan melodies amalgamated into a New York jazz ambiance with dominant Mediterranean influences.”
This year’s artists are Cretan Jazz Project, Haig Yazdjian and his group, and Vasilis Skoulas and his group.
Cretan Jazz Project is a collaboration inspired by 5 prominent musicians from all over the world coming together from different musical backgrounds to perform Cretan music in a New York Jazz style. Musicians Maria Manousaki- Crete, Nektarios Kostakis- Crete, Guy Mintus- Israel, Panagiotis Andreou- Greece, and Engin Gunaydin- Turkey will perform their distinctive music at the festival.
Acclaimed Syrian-born, of Armenian origin, Greek resident, and global citizen Haig Yazdjian is an oud soloist, composer, and a singer, too. Through five groundbreaking albums, released worldwide through Greece’s most prestigious Record Label (Libra Music), Yazdjian creates a unique, dreamlike sound influenced by the ancient traditions of the East and contemporary western music.
Yazdjian moved to Greece in the early 1980’s and in just a few years, established himself as a leading soloist in Greece, collaborating with prominent composers and leading singers. His first album, released in 1994 was a solo oud album demonstrating the possibilities of the instrument. His first narrative album was released two years later in 1996, named after his young daughter Talar, and presented a musical landscape inspired by the harshness and gentleness of Armenia, the Middle East and the West, treating them as live battling and complimentary creative forces.
Among the Greek composers and singers and international soloists who have collaborated with Yazdjian are Nikos Xydakis, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Savina Yannatou, Maria Farantouri, Dimitra Galani, Elli Paspala, David Lynch, Michalis Nikoloudis, Melina Kana, Eleni Vitali, Dave Spillain, Omar Farouk Tekbilek, Djivan Gasparyan, Theodossii Spassov, Enver Izmaylov, Ara Dinkjian, Derya Turkan, Yinon Muallem, Glen Velez, Elisa Vellia and many others.
Vasilis Skoulas the popular lyra player and singer will be presenting his latest tunes along with some traditional Cretan songs. Born and raised in Anogia Milopotamou in Rethimno, Crete, his family was highly established in traditional music and arts. His grandfather, Mixalis Skoulas, was a great lyra player of his time, and his father Alkiviadis Skoulas or Grilios as most know him was a famous popular artist in Anogia.
Skoulas started playing lyra at the early age of 7, and is now one of the world’s most acclaimed lyra players and singers. The list of countries where he has performed includes Canada, the USA, Australia, and Germany among many others.
Manousaki said, “Alikianos is around 10 kilometers from Chania on the road to Lefka Ori, (The White Mountains) [and] beyond the unquestionable beauty of the location, the festival is being held there for personal and emotional reasons. I believe that a festival of this caliber will benefit the village culturally and financially as it has become an annual tradition.”
Manousaki attended the Βerklee College of Music in Boston and has performed with Adele, opened for Sting at Lincoln Center, and for the Pet Shop Boys in Athens. Her album Sole Voyage was recorded in New York and is available online now.
Musicians from previous years who have performed at the festival are Ross Daly- Ireland, Pantelis Krassadakis, Giorgos Voyiatzis, Petros Klampanis, Petros Kourtis, Andreas Arnold- Germany, Carlos Ronda Mas- Spain, Guy Mintus- Israel, Stefan Olufsen- Sweden, Zacharias Spyridakis, Yiannis Papazanis, Demetris Sideris, Τigran Sargsyan- Armenia, David Lynch- USA, and Yotis Kiourtsoglou.
Cretan world music festival from OxoNou video on Vimeo.
Left to right: Spiros Koutsorinakis, Maria Manousaki, and Nektarios Kostakis performing at the festival. Photo by Stanislav Dermendjiev
Haig Yazdjian is an oud soloist, composer, and a singer, who will be performing at the Cretan World Music Festival in July. Photo: Courtesy of Maria Manousaki