Musical Travelogue with Domna Samiou - Asia Minor
“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 tradi
Music program, Television, ERT, 1977
An episode dedicated to the musical tradition of the Greeks from the coastal area of western Asia Minor, Smyrna and the Erithrean peninsula. The documentary includes historical recordings from the Centre for Asia Minor Studies as well as testimonies and songs by refugees now living in Thessaloniki, Athens, and Piraeus. Asia Minor had a special place in Domna Samiou's heart but was also in her blood being the homeland of her own parents.
The documentary starts with Domna Samiou singing At Dawn, acapella, a song from the village Vourla, (situated on the Eritrean peninsula). The song is considered a milestone in the Asia Minor musical tradition. She learned it from her music 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.
Three instrumental tunes follow performed by the musicians Stefanos Vartanis, Nikos Stefanidis, and Mathios Balampanis typical of the area of Smyrna, Asia Minor. Yangos Nikolelis dances a zeimbekiko dance in the “old traditional style”.
Domna Samiou interviews Markos Dragoumis, a musicologist and head musical collaborator at the Centre for Asia Minor Studies - Melpo Merlie Foundation. Three historical recordings are heard from the Centre's archives, recorded during the year 1930, under the supervision of Melpo Merlier. Refugees Stefos Xepastos from Vourla, Eritrea, and Irini Bogiatzi from Fokies, Asia Minor sing.
A black stone from the shore I will use as a pillow
For whatever the body suffers, the head is to blame.
In Athens, on Acharnon street the veteran singer of urban songs from Smyrna Stella Varthalitou sings the famous song Bournovalia (Girl From Bournova). Panagiotis Tataris, a musician from Smyrna accompanies her with his santur.
In Ilioupoli, Thessaloniki, Domna meets Yannis Stefanoudakis, a worker on the docks of the port of Thessaloniki and also a basket maker who learned the art from his grandparents. His parents came from the village of Achirli in the province of Karabourn, on the Eritrean peninsula. Yannis Stefanoudakis presents the family heirlooms from his homeland and together with Domna, they sing the well-known song Alatsatiani (Girl From Alatsata).
The beautiful girls are from 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 in 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 (the way the kanun is played). He has stopped playing professionally a long time ago and plays only for himself and his wife.
When the scheduled shooting ended, the sound man recorded Domna Samiou on tape, singing for the guests and crew, the well-known rembetiko I Heard You Are a Tough Guy by Kostas Skarvelis. Dimitris Macheras and his wife accompanied her.
In a tavern in Nea Krini, Thessaloniki, captain Michalis plays a Zeimbekikos Dance on a barrel organ.
In Nea Erythraea, Attica, a group of refugees from Alatsata, Asia Minor inspired and directed by Kleoniki Tzoanaki, (well-known to all residents there for her singing, energy, and social gatherings), sings two favourite songs of their homeland, Alatsatiani (Girl From Alatsata) and Attaris.
In Kokkinia, Attica, 73 year old Yannis Agoropoulos (Hatzis) from Smyrna and 48 year old Elias Vourlakos, whose family originates from Smyrna, sing a Smyrneian variation of the Constantinopolitan song Like the Marble Columns.
Yannis Agoropoulos (Hatzis) sang three table songs for Domna, typical musical tradition of Smyrna, and a group in Kokkinia, Attica, sing the love song I Lost My Scarf With Hundreds of Florins.
Domna Samiou sing 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 ends with a reference - a tribute to the leading musician from Asia Minor Nikos Stefanidis, 86 years old at the time. Introducing him, Domna remarks: "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".