published 10.29.2015

Rebetika Media Alert


A special two-part free concert series

Tuesday, November 10 and Thursday, November 12 at 7pm


New York, NY (October 29, 2015) - The Onassis Cultural Center NY proudly presents Rebetika: The Blues of Greece*, a unique exploration of the Greek musical tradition of rebetika (often referred to as the “Songs of the Greek Underground”) in two parts. 


THE ORIGINS (Tuesday, November 10 at 7PM) – The history of song and music with Greek, Arab, Turkish, and Jewish origins dating back to the 1850s comes alive with traditional instrumentation in the hands of extraordinary musicians led by Kyriakos Kalaitzides (oud).  Also performing will be Tony Barhoum (qanun), Mavrothi Kontanis (oud, guitar), George Lernis (toumperleki, defi) and Phaedon Sinis (politiki lyra).


THE EVOLUTION (Thursday, November 12 at 7PM)Lena Kitsopoulou explores life through song as she performs in her own words: “the music that plays in my head while I play out my life.”  Together with musicians Kostas Gerakis (guitar), Ilias Krommydas (accordion) and Georgios Petroudis (bouzouki), Kitsopoulou will share the authentic music that is performed at both Greek weddings and “panygiria” (or fairs) that are traditionally held in small towns or villages. 


“The urban popular songs and dances called rebetika (or rembetika) have become as

representative of Greece as flamenco is of Spain or the tango is of Argentina”, writes Gail HolstWarhaft, Adjunct Professor at the Cornell Institute, whose interest includes modern Greek literature and music.  “These musical traditions emerged at roughly the same period from the poorest section of society, and they were once looked down on as low-class, shady music. For Americans, there is another obvious parallel: the Blues, especially the urban blues of the 1920s to the 1940s.” 


Rebetika: The Blues of Greece presents the melodies and rhythms of this popular tradition which continues to inform and inspire our collective appreciation for world music.


Detailed biographies and photos available at:


*Rebetika: The Blues of Greece concerts take place at the Onassis Cultural Center NY, 645 5th Avenue, (at 51st St) New York.  Reservations for the free concerts are available at   



Founded in 2000, the Onassis Cultural Center NY explores Hellenic culture, from antiquity to today, through a rich and diverse program of exhibitions, events and online engagement. Located in midtown Manhattan, in Olympic Tower, the newly renovated creative space offers experiences that inspire and support the interaction between audiences and artists and thinkers in all cultural fields from visual arts, dance, film, literature, music and theater to the humanities.  Programs and exhibitions-from scholarly to those designed for families and novices -are presented free of charge to make the experience accessible to all.



The Onassis Foundation (USA) is committed to the promotion of Hellenic culture.  By cooperating with educational and cultural institutions in Greece and throughout the Americas, the Onassis Foundation (USA) promotes cultural relations.  The mission of the Onassis Foundation (USA) is realized through two major initiatives: the Onassis Cultural Center New York (OCCNY) presents art and archaeological exhibitions and a season of major cultural and artistic events focused primarily on the humanities and science.  The academic program, the University Seminar Program, places eminent scholars from all over the world in universities in North and Latin America for lectures and seminars on topics related to Hellenic civilization.



For more information, please contact:


Bruce Mason





Maria Galanou

917-732-7167 direct

212-486-4448 x113




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