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Music

Zoe Tiganouria, the Greek Composer & Accordionist Featured on Hollywood Soundtrack

December 14, 2021

ATHENS – Zoe Tiganouria loves the accordion and composing with passion, she has recorded more than twenty albums and has almost 200 compositions in the Greek and foreign discography. Her works have been included in international collections such as the Buddha Bar and she has performed in hundreds of concerts in Greece and abroad. Tiganouria has participated in international festivals, international awards and music exhibitions and has been honored for her selfless contribution by the Hadjipaterio Foundation Rehabilitation Center for Children. In 2006, she opened for the legendary James Brown and in 2011, her song “Avec Toi Zoe feat In Grid” became a pan-European hit.

Tiganouria, the Greek composer and accordionist, who comes from the island of Samothrace, recently reached Hollywood, performing music for the movie Tango Shalom, and already started discussions for her next collaborations in the Mecca of cinema. She spoke with The National Herald about her music and her career.

Zoe Tiganouria, the Greek composer and accordionist. Photo: Courtesy of Zoe Tiganouria

TNH: Ms. Tiganouria, you have established yourself in the international music scene as an accordionist. How did you decide to invest your love and talent in such a special and perhaps “difficult” musical instrument as the accordion, which is usually not preferred by women musicians? What was the biggest challenge you faced because of this choice of yours?

Zoe Tiganouria: The challenge was to suddenly start at the age of 21 a musical instrument unknown to me until then, when my colleagues were already playing the accordion from kindergarten with conservatories and music teachers, and choosing this cumbersome instrument due to its weight- as a 50-kilogram girl that I was then – to “carry” it for a lifetime. However, the moment I discovered the accordion was sublime; it was a godsend! When I touched it, it made me visualize something that existed in the subconscious and was looking for a way to express itself. I connected with it for a lifetime, with endless hours of study and dedication, because I started it later than most, especially in my first years of study at the Nikos Skalkottas Conservatory where I earned my degrees.

TNH: From Samothrace to Hollywood, and in fact you are the first Greek woman to do so, while living in Greece, writing Hollywood music. What else besides talent does it take to get that far?

ZT: You need, first of all, faith in what you love, and hard work. Then you need patience and good energy- as much as possible- with the negative people in the space so that you can move on and not be consumed by pettiness.

James Brown and Zoe Tiganouria. Photo: Courtesy of Zoe Tiganouria

TNH: How did the collaboration on the film Tango Shalom, which has already won many international awards, come about? What did you gain from this experience of working with Hollywood?

ZT: The music supervisor of the film, Zizi Bologna, discovered my instrumental composition Last Tango by Zoe which was released with an official video on the internet and contacted me if she could use it in some scenes for the film. So I granted the license. She then asked me to compose the music for an important Tango dance scene lasting 4 minutes 30 seconds.

The musical theme, I composed for the scene, with the same title as the film, Tango Shalom, was performed with the participation of a choir from the Vatican – impressed the music supervisor, who suggested that we work together on the film score (original music score) for the whole film. So she visited me in Greece. The language barrier between us, my broken English and her few words of Greek did not stand in the way of our collaboration, because the music “spoke” between us. We created a lot of original music together in my studio and edited a lot of my pre-existing melodies for the film scenes.

My husband Stelios Generalis worked tirelessly with us, supervising the orchestrations, the sequencing, and composed some additional musical themes. Later, the director of the film Gabriel Bologna and the star of the film Renée Taylor [best known for her work on the TV series The Nanny] came to Greece, and were thrilled with the final result. When they later presented the result to other actors in the film, the reaction was unanimously positive, so as you can understand, we are already discussing the music that we will write together for the next film!

Renee Taylor and Zoe Tiganouria. Photo: Courtesy of Zoe Tiganouria

TNH: What is Zoe like when she sets down her accordion? What else does she love to do and what is her “secret sanctuary”?

ZT: I love the moments with my family, when we cook together, when we renovate our home, when we go on a trip to my island to visit my parents, when I take care of my garden, when I read a nice book, when I am in a sacred place and I pray.

TNH: When will you be performing in the U.S.?

ZT: I do not hide the fact that I have a great longing to perform in the U.S. I hope for a professional proposal-opportunity to give a nice concert, for all my compatriots in the Greek-American community.

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