Martha Mavroidi Quartet orchestrates new compositions mixed with reworked configurations of old songs for an energized combination of sounds. Broadly borrowing from Balkan tradition and the riches of Greek music, the Quartet plays acoustic music from the Aegean Islands and neighboring countries, traversing a musical continuum that crosses frontiers. The group also plays contemporary jazz-like arrangements with Mavroidi deftly handling the electric lafta.
Martha Mavroidi — A Greek musician
As a musician growing up in Athens I was influenced by a number of different musical styles, studying the rich traditions of Greek folk music, but also listening to Turkish and Bulgarian music. My teachers and the musicians I admired were already making new music inspired by Greek, Balkan, and Middle Eastern folk music. Creating anew is something that came naturally from my musical experiences. The struggle has been to combine the drive for the new sound with the love for the authentic, the respect of the old style and its regional nuisances, with the freedom of venturing into the unknown. With my quartet we unwind the thread that connects together a multitude of cultural influences into one entity. Old songs blend with new compositions in a project that celebrates Greek folk music and its affinity with the vocal heritage of the Balkans and the modal traditions of the Eastern Mediterranean.
This musical project explores the idea of a thread that connects the old acoustic sound of Greek and Balkan folk music with the new sound of contemporary music. For centuries the Balkan Peninsula has been the setting of an intense movement of populations. The urban centers of the Byzantine and the Ottoman empires have served as rich cosmopolitan environments, places where people from different regions interacted and exchanged cultural elements, re-informing and re-forming each other’s identities. Common melodies, rhythms, and dances, but also the names of several tunes, serve as testament to this ongoing cultural exchange.
The 20th century saw major political shifts in southeastern Europe—the rise of the nation-state, the closure of borders, and the penetrating involvement of socialist governments in the domain of culture. This process excluded minority groups from official cultural representation. However, in the last decades there has been a revival of the historical cultural interaction, this time on new platforms: festivals and inter-Balkan music projects, music camps, and a vivid wave of students showing a growing interest in the music of their neighbors, and rediscovering folk traditions from various regions of the Balkans.
This event is presented by the Onassis Cultural Center New York. BAM house, ticketing, and membership policies may not apply.