Stelios Petrakis Cretan Quartet

My love and admiration of Cretan music have led me to form a new ensemble, the Cretan Quartet. My aim is to condense and present in a lively and tasteful way, both on the island and off it, my own “Cretan” compositions and the pieces of our traditional music that I admire and find moving. This program is strongly stamped by and filtered through my personal taste, drawing on my long familiarity with the music of the island and my experience of strictly aesthetically delimited and timed “shows” at international festivals. It is in concert form, and at specific points includes dancing with or without musical accompaniment.

The truth is that most of the programs set up by ourselves and others engaged with the music of Crete are static affairs, with musicians seated in a row, playing their instruments and music with great dexterity. This, of course, is more than enough for this type of concert, especially when the music being played and the musicians playing it are of a high standard. But when we play traditional dance pieces, which is what most of them are, sometimes you feel there’s something missing… We’re missing the movement, the spatial expressiveness you find at every fiesta and in every group of friends in even the smallest Cretan village.

During the seven years of Cretan Quartet’s presence in the international music scene, many remarkable musicians have participated, whom I thank and feel obliged to. They marked their interpretations and left their mark indelible, shaping to a certain extent the result. I am sure that their (short or long) passage from the band, would leave something to them, something useful that they will use in their later personal career. The Cretan Quartet aspires to be a way, a project, an artistic proposal for Cretan music performances that other musicians should feel free to adopt its practices, to change what they do not like and lead Cretan music to many steps further.

The musicians in the quartet, all young and exceptionally skilled and talented, have their own wonderful artistic career. As part of the band, they trust my aesthetic standards (which almost always coincide with their own), and, above all, are keen and have the time for hard work. Working with them is a great honor and challenge for me. I present them in brief, in the form of a CV.


Dimitris Sideris (Lute – Voice)

Born in Athens, studies classical guitar at the Attiko conservatory. After moving to Crete in 1997, he graduates University of Crete, Department of Sociology and gets involved with the Cretan lute. Over the last 15 years he has been performing in traditional concerts and festivities, collaborating with prominent Cretan musicians such as Dimitris Sgouros, Zacharias Spyridakis, Antonis Fragakis, Giorgos Xylouris and others. He is active in the educational field giving workshops in Greece and abroad, and currently conducting his PhD thesis on “Cretan music identity” at the Faculty of Philosophy & Social Studies in University of Crete.

As a member of the bands “Daulute” and “Babel trio” and as a solo performer, he is developing a personal style on the Cretan lute integrating various eastern and western elements. In 2015, Dimitris designed and created a prototype musical instrument: The Electric Lute. His most recent music production, Lute Electric: Soundscape recordings of solo performance is captured on film by Before Sound Filming Reality in Lute Electric the documentary.



Mihalis Kontaxakis (Mandolin – Voice)


Michalis Kontaxakis was born in 1984 in Heraklion of Crete where he is still residing. He is considered one of the most influential specialists of the mandolin on the island. He has introduced a distinctive style and new elements of expression and has played a major role in the evolution and expansion of the Cretan playing of the mandolin. One interesting idea he introduced first in his discography is the use of the microtonal mandolin, with the purpose of approaching musical intervals that we encounter in the folklore music of Crete and not only. His assets include three personal albums with sounds inspired by sounds and landscapes of Crete and the world. He has experienced the Cretan musical tradition through cooperations with major folk musicians of Crete such as Vasilis Skoulas, Michalis Alefandinos, Dimitris Sgouros, Michalis Stavrakakis. He respects the music of Crete and the styles that preexist, yet today, he is presenting his sound through original musical patterns (mandolin – percussion, mandolin – contrabass, Mandolin – oud – percussion, and more) which he is maintaining with his co-operators on the island of Crete and in Athens. He has presented his work in significant venues, like the “Alternative Scene of the Greek National Opera” and has participated in the country of Oman and Tunisia in concerts of the Naseer Shamma.



Nikos Lempessis (Dance)

Nikos Lempesis was born and raised in Athens, while comes, originally from western Crete. From a very young age he admired and loved the culture of Crete. He started dancing at the age of eight and undertook his first teaching duties at the age of fourteen. Today, Nikos possesses a twenty-five-year long teaching experience. He continues to teach actively in various places both in Greece and abroad (Germany, France, USA, Switzerland), bringing to the fore the true Cretan Tradition. Along with his mentors and collaborators Giannis and Giorgos Megalakakis, he has performed in numerous concerts and festivals dedicated to the promotion of Cretan Culture and Heritage, including appearances at the Badminton Theatre in Athens in collaboration with Psarantonis. Today, Nikos teaches at the Cretan Association of Switzerland situated in Zurich.


Dimitris Chatzakis (Piano – sound)

Born in Heraklion,Crete in 1976. He starts studying piano and theory of music there and in 1998 moves to Athens at Fillipos Nakas Music Conservatory, where he studies Baroque Music,Orchestration and Composition with P.Adam aid J.Papadatos. He has attended various seminars, workshops and masterclasses with E.Agrafioti, A.Myrat, Th.Antoniou and many more. Although classical music was the main part of his studies,  composition and improvisation were the things he loved more. Minimalism and sound design are the tools that helped him find his path to music. Works include: Original soundtrack for  Video (OCD) -Athens Video Dance Festival 2010, music for C.P.KAVAFIS CD (poetry reading), theater music for many theatrical performances. As a group member, he has joined AQUARTET jazz band and Stelios Petrakis Cretan Quartet in many concerts.