In summer 2005, the leading Greek composer Christos Leondis invited me to participate in his concert entitled “Chelidon Hedomene” at the Herodeion in August. Leondis, a mild and modest man, is one of the few composers to appreciate me as a composer myself and encourage me to write music. He even mentions me in his interviews, for which I am particularly grateful. The concert was held, the packed Herodeion burst into applause, and Leondis saluted the audience, delighted and deeply touched.
It was time for me to start recording my next album. In the summer of 2006 I shut myself away at my family home in Petras, Sitia, where I had set up my own studio and recorded my two previous CDs. I began to create “databases” of the pieces I had. My first guest musicians were the exceptional cellist Giorgos Kaloudis and the bagpipe-player Giorgos Makris, a long-term partner at live concerts whom I had met in Kristi Stassinopoulou’s group. This was the first time I had used the cello and Greek bagpipes (gaida), and they worked together very well, changing the sound I had created in the earlier albums. I was filled with enthusiasm.
That same summer I managed to record Giorgi Petrov and Kostas Meretakis, who were in Crete for seminars at the Labyrinth Musical Workshop. I arranged a meeting with Maria Simoglou in Athens, at the house of my friend Giorgos Symeonidis, who has incredible recording equipment. Then Bijan Chemirani passed through Petras, adding his “magic fingers”, as well as the amazing Spaniard Efren Lopez, whom I had admired and wanted to work with for some time. I also recorded guitarist Kevin Seddiki at Petras; he says he has never heard his guitar recorded so faithfully since. Haris Lambrakis and Hammidreza Khabazzi were recorded in Athens, Hammid in a room at the Titania Hotel. He said the same thing to his collaborators on returning to Iran: “The best sound I’ve ever heard on my tar was recorded by a Greek composer in an Athens hotel room”. The CD had become a major production. With the addition of the Cretan singers Giorgis Xylouris and Vassilis Stavrakakis, Chico on the daouli and bassist Michalis Kalkanis, the recording sessions came to an end.
In the meantime I had completed my official studio in Mohlos (www.mohlosstudio.com) and invited Italian sound recordist Silvio Soave there to mix the album. It was the first crash test for the brand-new Pro Tools system. It took 52 tracks at 24/96 sample rate to tire it out a bit, but luckily it survived. The CD, entitled “Orion”, was finally released in Greece in 2008 (www.aerakis.net) and France in 2009 (www.budamusique.com). Ακόμη και τώρα λαμβάνω κριτικές (όλες καλές εκτός από μία) . I still receive reviews (all good with a single exception). The CD is even up for an American award (“Just Plain Folks”). We shall see…
While the “Orion” recording sessions were taking place, Keyvan Chemirani, the brother of my long-term partner Bijan Chemirani, invited me to take part in his concerts in Athens (Athens Festival), France, Sweden, Portugal, Mauritania and Morocco. New music, new experiences and meetings, many voyages and, above all, the warm embrace of the Chemirani family, whom many people, myself included, consider exemplary at everything they believe in and are.
During the same period, “Palyrria” sent me an Andalusian lullaby by “Ojos de Brujo” for me to play the lyra part. Achilleas Persidis had already added the laouto and Chico the percussion. I played the lyra tune over the pre-recorded laouto. It harmonised very well. The “Ojos” were so pleased with the result that they expedited its release; it was eventually included in their double CD “Techari Live”. The famous Spanish singer Manolo Garcia heard the album and immediately asked the “Ojos” for our contact numbers. In January 2008 he came to Mohlos Studio for 10-day recording sessions with Achilleas, Chico and me, and the CD “Saldremos a la Lluvia” was released in the spring (it has already gone platinum). In the summer he invited me on his Spanish tour. I went whenever possible, to a total of about 12 concerts. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The Spanish love him and his concerts are a huge fiesta. I think more will follow…
In March 2009 I attended a 10-day seminar in Paris with the world-famous Indian violinist Dr L. Subramaniam. I was left speechless. How deep a knowledge of music can man attain! What emotions can such a musician make you feel with a single note! To what heights can discipline, systematic study and practice lead! Dr Subramaniam invited me to one of his own concerts in India in May, but unfortunately it did not go ahead due to lack of time.
My disappointment at the cancellation of that concert was reversed by an invitation from the Paris record label Accords Croisés to create a CD of Cretan music for them, with Iranian Keyvan Chemirani and with Giorgis Xylouris as the main singer. The CD was recorded in May and will be released before Christmas.