By Eleni Sakellis
ASTORIA – The Sounds of Cyprus drew music lovers of all ages on Thursday, March 9 at Ovelia, 34-01 30th Avenue in Astoria. Musician/educator Peter Douskalis spoke with The National Herald about the event, an evening of Cypriot music and culture, hosted by the Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce’s Cypriot Young Professionals (CYP).
The event not only promoted the traditional music from the island of Cyprus, it raised funds for a good cause, the Olympism For Humanity Alliance (O4H). O4H Alliance embraces the relationship between the ancient Olympic idea and the modern world by cultivating international collaborations, to educate youth and people of all ages through lifelong learning, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement.
By sponsoring Cypriot youth to attend O4H training, Cypriot youth will have the opportunity to implement the ACE (Accessible Cypriot Education) project at the Tochni Village School. Sounds of Cyprus will include a live band performing traditional Cypriot music.
Douskalis told TNH this was one of the first, if not the first, “Cypriot Night” celebrating the traditional music of Cyprus in the style of the many “Greek Night” events with the added benefit of raising funds for a worthy cause. Among the songs performed were Tillirkotissa, Triantafilleni, and Ta Mavra Matia.
Douskalis noted that while the songs are classic, paradosiaka, they are played with a modern twist that appeals to all ages. He also observed that the journey is a learning experience for him as well. Douskalis’ background is Greek on his father’s side and Cypriot on his mother’s side and in playing the traditional songs, he learns more and more about his roots.
Douskalis on guitar, Cypriot musicians Renos Efthymiou and Elena Christou, along with viola-player Alex Tasopoulos, who is half-Greek, performed beautifully. Their spirited renditions led to dancing and singing along among the audience. One attendee noted that the musicians are too young to be able to play the classic Cypriot songs so well and with such feeling. Douskalis also told TNH that the tickets sold reached the venue’s capacity well before the night of the event. Those in attendance shared the same sentiment about the successful event, that they look forward to the next Cypriot Night.
The Olympism For Humanity Alliance, Inc. is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization in the United States. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Douskalis performs and records professionally as well as teaches music in the New York City Department of Education. Besides authoring the Hal Leonard Essential Elements for Guitar series book Multicultural Songs, he has published his philosophy on multicultural music education curriculum design in the 30th World Conference Proceedings of the International Society for Music Education (ISME) and has further presented his philosophies in Thessaloniki at the 30th ISME World Conference, a TEDx Talk, and the 32nd ISME World Conference in Glasgow.
He currently performs in New York City, primarily working as Assistant Director and Guitarist for Pericles Kanaris and Synolon. He also volunteers as the President of the New York City Chapter of the charity Guitars Not Guns and also partakes in Olympism For Humanity Alliance, Inc. projects.
His solo jazz guitar CD The Dance of the Sea has received national and international acclaim in Just Jazz Guitar Magazine, Los Angeles Jazz Scene, Jazz Journal (UK), and Cadence Magazine. More information on Peter Douskalis and his work is available online at www.douskalis.com or www.douskalis.gr.