Yiannis Chaldoupis and Moukliomos are based in Parakalamos, Pogoni in the region of Epirus, Northern Greece. This town has long been the source for the native Roma musicians that perform for the feast-dances—or paniyeria—throughout Epirus. They also play music at festive events or glindi, marriages, and tsipoura—or the celebrations held while making tsipouro, the Northern Greek moonshine. Learning within a community of gypsy musicians, Chaldoupis and his group also happen to be one of the few groups who still speak and sing in their own indigenous language, Roma. Equally important, this group plays a style of Northern Greek folk music that is hundreds if not thousands of years old.
Originally migrating from Northern India to Romania and then to the border area of Southern Albania and Northern Greece, the Roma people were valued for their seemingly innate grasp of music and dance. Evolving over time, the standard instrumentation of the Epirotic groups include a clarinet, a violin, a laouto—a four course fretted lute—and a defi—or chimed hand drum. Yiannis Chaldoupis and his group have preserved the oldest traditional forms of song and dance that developed in this region. Their singing is polyphonic—meaning “many voiced”—and their instrumental performances are essentially pentatonic in nature—dark and bluesy.
Moukliomos is the Roma word meaning “freedom” and their music implies the freedom found within an ancient tradition. Though much of the music is intended for village line dancing, the particular strain of Pogoni music employs melodic lines that are implied, floating rather than concrete, rigid structures. Epirotic music is supposed to heal the listener and dancer: a form of musical interaction and exchange.
The group will include Nellie Kramer, Yiannis Chaldoupis’ wife, who will act both as translator as well as dance instructor.
Yiannis Chaldoupis and Moukliomos have an acclaimed CD of field recordings on the JSP label recorded and produced by Grammy-winning engineer and archivist Christopher King who has been nominated six times for a Grammy and won a Grammy in 2002. He has been researching and documenting Epirotic music for over five years. He personally selected this group to be represented among the finest performers in Northern Greece. His book on this music entitled “Lament From Epirus” is forthcoming from W. W. Norton & Co. His writings have been published in the Oxford American and in the Paris Review “The Daily.”
Read more about Christopher King and his ongoing hunt for the source of the world’s most beguiling folk music in this marvelous article published in The New York Times Magazine (Sept. 24, 2014) by Amanda Petrusich HERE.
Now booking North American Fall dates 2016.