Musical Travelogue with Domna Samiou - Asia Minor
Music program, Television, ERT, 1977
“Musical Travelogue with Domna Samiou” (“Musiko Odiporiko me ti Domna Samiou”) was a television series researched and presented by Domna Samiou and broadcast by Greek National Television in 1976-1977. Each episode was dedicated to the music and dance tradition of a different area of Greece.
An episode dedicated to the musical tradition of the Greeks from the coastal Asia Minor, Smyrna, and the Eritrean peninsula. Historical recordings are presented: from the Centre for Asia Minor Studies, testimonies and songs from refugees living now in Thessaloniki, Athens, and Piraeus. Homeland of her own parents, Asia Minor had a special place in Domna Samiou's heart but was also in her blood.
The show started with Domna Samiou singing acapella the song from the village Vourla, Eritrean peninsula At Dawn, a milestone in the Asia Minor music tradition, first taught by her tutor Simon Karas. The song requires special vocal skills and the rendition of the 49-year-old Domna at the time, is -so far- unsurpassed.
The musicians Stefanos Vartanis, Nikos Stefanidis, and Mathios Balampanis played three instrumental tunes that are typical of the area of Smyrna, Asia Minor. Yangos Nikolelis danced in “old traditional style” the zeimbekiko dance.
Discussion with Markos Dragoumis, musicologist and head music collaborator at the Centre for Asia Minor Studies - Melpo Merlie Foundation. There, three historical recordings were presented from the Centre's archives recorded during 1930 under the supervision of Melpo Merlier, by the refugees Stefos Xepastos from Vourla, Eritrea, and Irini Bogiatzi from Fokies, Asia Minor.
A black stone from the shore I will use as a pillow
Whatever the body suffers, the head is to blame.
In Acharnon Street, Athens, the veteran singer of urban songs from Smyrna Stella Varthalitou sang the famous song Bournovalia (Girl From Bournova). The musician from Smyrna, Panagiotis Tataris, accompanies her by his santur.
In Ilioupoli, Thessaloniki, Domna met Yannis Stefanoudakis, a dock worker in the port of Thessaloniki and a basket maker who learned the art from his grandparents. His parents came from the village of Achirli in the province of Karabourn, Eritrean peninsula. Yannis Stefanoudakis presented the family heirlooms from the homeland and, together with Domna, they sang the well-known song Alatsatiani (Girl From Alatsata).
The beautiful girls are in Alatsata, the white-skinned are in Vourla
And in Karabourna are the black-eyed ones…
The santur was one of the main musical instruments in the orchestras of Smyrna and the surrounding areas. The santur player Dimitris Macheras comes from Ephesus. His family went to Vathi of Samos in 1916 and later he moved to Thessaloniki where he worked as a singer and organist for the shadow theatre artist (karagioz) Charilaos Petropoulos. He uses his fingers instead of baguettes, as is done in the kanun. He has stopped playing professionally a long time ago and plays only for himself and his wife.
When the shootings for the needs of the program ended, a discussion started with the tape recording open and Domna Samiou sang for the company the well-known rembetiko by Kostas Skarvelis accompanied by Dimitris Macheras and his wife.
In a tavern in Nea Krini, Thessaloniki, a barrel organ plays a Zeimbekikos Dance.
In Nea Erythraea, Attica, a group of refugees from Alatsata, Asia Minor led and inspired by Kleoniki Tzoanaki, well-known to all residents there for her songs, energy, and social gatherings, sang two favorite songs of their homeland, Alatsatiani (Girl From Alatsata) and Attaris.
In Kokkinia, Attica, Yannis Agoropoulos (Hatzis), 73 years old, from Smyrna and Elias Vourlakos, 48 years old, whose family originates from Smyrna, sang together a Smyrneian variation of the Constantinopolitan song Like the Marble Columns.
Yannis Agoropoulos (Hatzis) sang three table songs for Domna, typical of Smyrna musical tradition, and a group in Kokkinia, Attica, sang the love song I Lost My Scarf With Hundreds of Florins.
Domna Samiou sang the song Aman Gel Aman (The Leaves of the Rose), a song she learned from her mother who was a refugee from the village of Baindir in the province of Smyrna. She is accompanied by musicians Stefanos Vartanis, violin, Nikos Stefanidis, kanun and Mathios Balabanis, goblet drum.
The program ended with a reference - a tribute to the leading musician from Asia Minor Nikos Stefanidis, 86 years old at the time. Introducing him, Domna said, "The kanun is an instrument of Asia Minor and Thrace and is considered one of the most perfect musical instruments. Nikos Stefanidis is probably the only Greek musician who plays this instrument today ".