Savina Yannatou

A leading interpreter of baroque, renaissance and early musics, Savina Yannatou is one of the most respected singers in Greek music. She is known not only of her mastery of older, formal repertoire but also for her experience in avant-garde jazz. Since 1983, she has been a member of the Early Music Workshop of Athens, performing at festivals across Greece as well as further afield.

Her dedication to exploring and expanding her voice as an instrument and as a means of communication has led her to record a collection of Sephardic folk songs of the Balkans, heard on her album 'Primavera in Salonica' (1994). These are songs from the Jewish Diaspora, once the strongest community in the cosmopolitan port of Thessaloniki. This Jewish music of the Balkans has been renewed and modified through Savina's vocal experiments and the subtle treatment of her handpicked band of virtuoso instrumentalists, Primavera en Salonico. Their album's release couldn't have been timelier, for it emphasised the connections between all people of the Balkans at a time when others took up arms to stress their separation.

Encouraged by the very positive reaction of audiences in Greece, Yannatou made an effort to enter the international touring circuit and has since enjoyed growing success abroad. Her performance at Reading, UK this year - her second WOMAD appearance - made a lasting impression on the audience, featuring an eclectic program with traditional songs from all over the world, transformed into fascinating explorations of sound and style by Savina's subtle but dynamic voice.

Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonico

Based on traditional material – mainly from the Mediterranean Area – Savina Yannatou and the group Primavera en Salonico offer an open sound without borders or labels, from simple songs extending to contemporary music forms.
Insisting on acoustic instruments, half of which have their origin in the East, they attempt at exploiting their specific sound, oftentimes also exploring them to the limits of their possibilities. Beyond her exquisite interpretive capacity Savina Yannatou gives special emphasis to the expression of the “music” of each different language, without letting that stop her from oftentimes using her voice as one more instrument.
With a background that combines classical studies and “authentic” traditional music with improvised music and jazz, Savina Yannatou and the musicians of Primavera en Salonico find themselves like rope-dancers on the chord which connects the modal music of the East with the equivalent music of Western Europe, music of the Middle Ages and the popular polyphonies of the Mediterranean. Beginning from the melismatic riches of the Eastern Maqam and the charming irregular rhythms they explore the territory of collective free improvisation, meeting there modern jazz.

The program

The program usually consists of a mixture of the three CDs Savina Yannatou produced with Primavera en Salonico: the “Sephardic Folk Songs from Salonica”, the “Songs from the Mediterranean” and the “Virging Maries of the World”
The selection criterion of the Mediterranean songs presented by Savina Yannatou and the ensemble “Primavera en Salonico”, was the cultural particularity of each song presented, as well as the common threads that unite the centuries old civilizations of the region into a cultural unity. Each song treated as a cultural artifact requires to bring to fore its distinct colors, vocally and music wise. An endless game of semblance and difference, strange and familiar that characterizes Mediterranean cultures, allowed Savina Yannatou and the ensemble “Primavera en Salonico”, to approach the songs in terms of the most disciplined “tradition” and at the same time with the freedom that personal experience and inter-subjectivity allow for. They are songs from Sardinia, Corsica, Israel, Turkey, Southern Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Province and Spain.
The Sephardic folk songs are “heavenly melodies” which evoke the memory of long past times. The Sephardic Jews, being expulsed from Spain by the inquisition in 1492, settled in large numbers in Salonica, where they had a thriving community. They brought with them their songs and in the course of the centuries they made many more, in their old-Spanish language “Ladino”.
The “Virgin Maries of the World” are a selection of popular songs about the Divine pathos and the resurrection from the wider area of the Mediterranean but also from Africa, South America and the Caribbean. Though sacred in intention , their marriage with the ancient and pre-Christian traditions and rituals, results in a very charming sound. The melodies, rhythms and lyrics, though they are lamenting for Christ, are gushing with life. Pain, pathos and decay are transformed into a hymn celebrating the perfection of human existence and salvation.
Sumiglia (2005)
The quiet storm

Greek singer Savina Yannatou defies boundaries and initial impressions.

By Don Heckman
Special to The Times
March 8, 2005

Savina Yannatou unassumingly strolled on stage Sunday at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall, her slender figure garbed in a flowing red chiffon tunic. Her most notable attribute: an apparent reluctance to perform, almost shyness.

She announced each song in a soft, gentle voice, sometimes simply providing a title and the number's country of origin. Occasionally, she recited an English translation of a song's lyrics.

For the first few numbers, the Greek singer's low-key demeanor dominated the music as well. Overt charisma - despite a growing résumé of rave reviews - was clearly not her game. Singing with precision and control, reading her songs from a notebook on a music stand as she clutched the microphone, she made no apparent effort to invest her performance with anything other than a calculated focus on her songs.

This, despite the fact that the music she has explored through some 20 albums, most of it from Mediterranean countries, simmers with the passion of centuries of traditional songs.

Backstage before the performance, part of only her second U.S. tour, Yannatou displayed similar reserve. Almost dwarfed by a large armchair, the small, fine-boned Greek artist smiled when asked about the reaction to "Sumiglia," her boundary-less new release from ECM Records.

"When I first started singing Sephardic songs and Mediterranean songs," she said, "I really didn't think they could ever be released in an album. Now I have done a few CDs, and they have all had very good reviews. So, like all musicians and artists, I hope that we will make many more."

Back on stage, Yannatou's reserve slowly transformed, especially as she moved into rhythmic music from Bulgaria, emotionally intense tunes from Italy, Spain and Corsica and a gripping Palestinian song. Although her physical manner and between-song comments remained composed, her vocal style expanded dramatically.

Her initial emphasis on cool-toned interpretations, enhanced by a sumptuous sound and a subtle vibrato, gradually transformed into a startlingly diverse repertoire of vocal techniques. In some numbers she employed "throat singing" - a technique in which deep throat tones are used to generate whistling overtones. For others, she flexed her sound to the point where she could produce a melodic line in octaves.

In the concert's last few pieces, she produced bird calls, yelps, squeals and growls with an intensity reminiscent of the late avant-garde singer Cathy Berberian, as she led her four-piece ensemble through electrifyingly contemporary sounding segments.

"I have always been fascinated with the different colors of the voice, the different ways of singing," said Yannatou, opening up conversationally, similar to how she opened up musically on stage. "And that, I think, is what attracted me to the different [styles of] music of the Mediterranean. Singing them becomes like a game, playing with the sounds and the words of different languages."

Yannatou still lives in Athens, where she was born. Although she devoted a few years to guitar lessons, her primary instrument has always been her voice.

"My sister," she said, "helped me get into a choir when I was very young - 7 years old.... And she helped me to learn the second voice, taught me not to be confused by what the other singers were doing. And it turned out to be a very important experience for me - to learn music, to learn how to be with other persons, to share the experience."

She studied voice at the National Conservatory and the Workshop of Vocal Art in Athens, continuing with postgraduate study at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her professional career began - while she was still a student - with vocal contributions to the popular "Lillipoupoli" children's program on Greek National Radio 3 under the direction of composer Manos Hadjidakis.

Yannatou initially concentrated on contemporary Greek song and opera. Renaissance and Baroque music attracted her interest next, followed in the early '90s by a fascination with vocal techniques and free improvisation.

By the mid-'90s she had met and formed a creative alliance with the members of Primavera en Salonico, the group that has backed her for more than a decade and with whom she has recorded several albums with combined U.S. sales of about 10,000.

"I first met them," she said, "when I became interested in Sephardic songs from Saloniki.... We started doing concerts and eventually, the songs of the Mediterranean came next."

"And now, suddenly," she adds with a smile, "it has been more than 10 years together."

Yannatou finished the Schoenberg Hall concert with more wide-open improvisations, her vocal excursions enhanced by the heroic accordion playing of the group's music director, Kostas Vomvolos; the multilayered percussion work of Kostas Theodorou, the string bass of Michalis Siganidis and the nay flute of Haris Lambrakis.

By this point it was fully apparent that Yannatou's quiet stage demeanor, like her calm, intimate conversational manner, represented only one facet of a complex personality. Rather than rely on superficial stagecraft, she employs her voice, her eyes and her inner intensity to mine a creative trove filled with emotional treasures.

"If you choose to do this kind of work," concluded Yannatou, "you have to have a basic love of music. And for me it is always the expression of the music, the feeling within the music, that has to come first. So, I can only hope that what I do, what I sing, is experienced as passionate, even if I don't necessarily seem that way when I am on stage."

Check out the mp3 Sound Sample

  1. Evga Mana Mou - 3:57
  2. Muiñeira - 4:20(MP3)
  3. Yanno Yannovitse - 4:49
  4. Porondos Viz Partjan - 4:12
  5. Sedi Yanna - 2:34(MP3)
  6. Orrio Tto Fengo - 4:31
  7. Ta Chervona Ta Kalinonka - 2:58
  8. Terra Ca Nun Senti - 3:38(MP3)
  9. Sumiglia - 3:53(MP3)
  10. Sta Kala Lu Serenu - 2:46(MP3)
  11. Ganchum Em Yar Ari - 3:12
  12. Tulbah - 3:15
  13. Smarte Moj - 3:41
  14. Ela Ipne Ke Pare To - 5:30
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Rosa Das Rosas (2000)
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CD booklet includes both Greek and English lyrics and interpretations.

Most pieces comprised in the present CD were composed in 1989 and 1990 exclusively for "G's Musical Workshop", a radio programme produced by Michalis Gregoroiu for Greek Radio Three, which unfortunately , ceased to broadcast in 1994. This radio progamme offered the oppurtunity to composers and musicians alike to experiment with music, in front of or with no audience at all in the studio, composing musical pieces in two days time only. Those pieces of mine we re-recorderd and completed so that they could be released through the present CD ten years after their initial composition. I set to music lyrics and notes by my sister Sophia Yannatou (apart from the "Black Moons"). I also made use of two melodies dating back to the middle ages and the Renaissance, namely "Rosa Das Rosas" and "A los banos dell amor" and deemed appropriate to retain the original orchestration in all tracks, since any sort of alteration would seem to upset the inner balance of the present release.
---Savina Yannatou

  1. Like Love
  2. A Los Banos Dell Amor
  3. Along The Edge Of His Love
  4. Into His Past (orchestral)
  5. Like Love Or Light
  6. The Miracles
  7. Two Faced Moon
  8. A Hint Of Moon
  9. Rosa Das Rosas
  10. Wet Roses
  11. Black Moons
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Terra Nostra (Live) (2001)
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The 2001 live recording by the great diva from Greece, again with her incredible Primavera Salonica ensemble .Exciting and very colourful ECM debut for innovative Greek singer Savina Yannatou and her band Primavera en Salonico. Yannatou and company propose a wide-open sound which embraces the simplest of folk songs as well as improvising that both draws upon far-flung traditions and moves beyond them. Music both highly attractive and emotionally-intense, recorded before a capacity crowd in Yannatou's hometwon of Athens.

fROOTS Magazine, No 239
May 2003

A live recording featuring a gloriously varied range of material – there are songs here from Greece, Lebanon, Spain, Sardinia, Bulgaria, the Caribbean and many other places, besides (including a Hebridian song from the Marjory Kennedy-Frazer collection). It’s hard to say exactly how much post-concert work was done in the studio, but this is a live CD that really does combine the energy and spontaneity of performance with the technical precision of a studio recording. Yannatou’s vocals are impeccable throughout, her articulation clear, the ornamentation precise and – where necessary – the voice gutsy without being strained. Another excellent female vocalist, Lamia Bedioui, sings on a number of the songs in Arabic.

The subtle textures of the two female voices are offset perfectly by the instrumental backing. Primavera en Salonico is a mainly acoustic orchestra consisting of traditional instruments such as oud, kanun and ney, as well as guitar, accordeon and double bass. It is an excellent and versatile band that copes gloriously with the demands made by the various styles on offer – this CD would be an enjoyable listen even without the vocals. As someone with a special interest in the instrument, I was especially impressed by Kyriakos Gouventas’ violin playing, but there is not a single instrumentalist here who is less than excellent.

I have one minor quibble, which is that the sleeve notes give minimal information (and in English only – most of the song texts are given in translation) about what is a very interesting selection of songs. But this is one of Savina Yannatou’s best releases and is highly recommended.
Chris Williams

Track listing

  1. With The Moon I'm Walking
  2. Ivan Nadonka Dumaste
  3. A Fairy's Love Song
  4. Ballo Sardo
  5. Yiallah Tnem Rima
  6. El Barquero
  7. No Seas Capritchioza
  8. Chant des Belles Mères
  9. Schubho Lhaw Qolo
  10. I've Told You And I Say Again
  11. Tres Hermanicas Eran
  12. Los Bilbilicos
  13. Hey Het
  14. Ah Mon Die
  15. Close Your Eyelids And See
  16. Adieu Paure Carnavas
  17. Wa Habibi
  18. Madonna de la Grazia
  19. Kadifè
  20. Jaco
Savina Yannatou : voice
Lamia Bedioui : voice
Lefteris Ahgouridakis : percussion

Primavera en Salonico
Yannis Alexandris : oud, guitar, tamboura
Kostas Vomvolos : Kanoun, accordion, caliba, tamboura
Kyriakos Gouventas : violin
Haris Lambrakis : nay
Michalis Siganidis : double-bass
Antonis Maratos : percussion /
Tassos Misyrlis : cello

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Spring in Salonica (1994)
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Sephardic, folk songs of the Spanish-Jews, performed in this collection by Savina Yannatou, consist, in their entirety, of a qwuite contradictory as well as charming mosaic. The European Middle Ages, Byzantium and the Arabic-Pewrsian tradition co-exist with elements from the folk music of the Iberian Peninsula, the Balkans and the wider Mediterranean basin. Traditional songs written and composed by the Spanish Jews of Salonica, which, up to fifty years ago, were heard, sadly or cheerfully, in the ppor neighbourhoods of the town. The CD is accompanied by an 80-paged booklet in 3 languages.

Track listing

  1. La cantiga del fuego (The song of the fire)
  2. El Sueño de la hija a del rey (The dream of the King's daughter)
  3. Los bilbilicos (The nightingales )
  4. Morenica (The little dark one)
  5. Tres hermanicas eran (There were three sisters)
  6. Morena (The little dark one)
  7. Yedí Kulé
  8. Una matica de ruda (A branch of rue)
  9. Por qué lloras, blanca niña (Why are you crying, my fair one)
  10. Alta es la luna (High is the moon)
  11. Nani nani (Rocka-bye, rocka-bye )
  12. Jaco
  13. Ya salió de la mar la galana (The gentle lady came out of the sea)
  14. El encalador (The whitewasher)
  15. Durme, hermoso hijico
  16. Primavera en Salonico (Sleep, sweet darling sonIn Spring in Salonica)
Personnel on the David Saltiel Recording:
David Saltiel: vocals
Markos Skoulios: ud
Giorgos Mavrommatis: qanun
Giorgos Psaltis: violin
Lefteris Pavlou: frame drum
Nikos Tzannis-Ginnerup: lyra

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Mediterranea (1998)
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Savina Yannatou and the Primavera en Salonico ensemble

Adrift the warm ephemeral breezes of the blue Mediterranean, about two feet just above the ocean waves you are able touch the spirit of any points East, South, West and North in Savina Yannatou's new CD in collaboration with the Primavera en Salonico ensemble of traditional acoustic instruments, released by Sounds True. From the opening alluring melismas through staccato dances to tightly woven harmonies and simple cries exquisitely orchestrated, Yannatou's poignant vocalizations open a door to the Mediterranean lands so ancient that upon entrance you may discover you have never left.
Track listing

  1. Why Little Bird Do you Not Sing
  2. You On A Hill, I On A Hilll
  3. Pinguli Pinguli Giuvacchinu/The Door
  4. The Girl From Nuoro
  5. Sardinian Dance
  6. Gentle Hand
  7. When The Lissome Girl Appeared
  8. Glory To The Word Of God
  9. The Jasmine
  10. Smyrnaean Air
  11. In The Beautiful Bygone Days
  12. Dawn Has Broken
  13. And A Mother
  14. Lullaby
  15. The Boatmen
  16. La Finforletta
  17. O, Wave
  18. God Has Afflicted Me/Why Little Bird Do You Not Sing
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Traditional Lullabies (Berceuses) (1998)
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  1. Slumber that puttest the little ones to sleep (originating from the isle of Thassos)
  2. Tiki-tiki-tiki (originating from Southern Italy)
  3. Hush-a-bye the regent's child (originating from the isle of Carpathos)
  4. The Rising Sun Is All Ablaze (originating from Smyrna, Asia Minor)
  5. Slumber that puttest the little ones to sleep (music by Dimitris Semsis)
  6. Hush-a-bye the regent's child (music by Manos Hadjidakis - lyrics by Nikos Ghatsos)
  7. Go to sleep my little angel (music by Mikis Theodorakis - lyrics by Costas Virvos)
  8. Go to bye-byes my sweet-smelling carnation (music by Manos Hadjidakis - lyrics by Nikos Ghatsos)
  9. Slumber, draw nigh (originating from the isle of Chios)
  10. Go to sleep my little girlie (originating from Smyrna)
  11. Slumber, take my little child (originating from the isle of Crete)
  12. My lily is fast asleep (originating from the isle of Astypalaea)
  13. Slumber, put my little one to sleep (originating from the Peloponnese)
  14. Slumber, take my baby sweet (originating from the isle of Mytilene)
  15. Lullaby (music by Yorgos Kouroupos - lyrics by Andreas Angelakis)
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Virgin Maries Of The World (1999)
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Following the path of re-discovering musical treasures of centuries, united by a most obvious and at the same time unsuspecting narrative thread, Savina Yannatou and the group PRIMAVERA EN SALONICO, present the Virgin Maries of the World, popular and folk songs, hymns, encomia, eulogies, lamentations, carols excerpts from popular masses (missa) for the universal figure of Virgin Mary. These songs bring together a variety of Divine archetypes in the form of a mystical musical journey, spreading from the folk religious chants of Greece and Cyprus to popular masses from Congo and Argentina.

  1. Ah mon Die (Lola Martin) [extract from the popular Mass "Missa Antilla" of the Caribbean]
  2. U lamentu di Ghjiesu (Roch Mambrini - Ferdinand Acquaviva, Antoine Caslonga) [Popular lamenting song of the Holy Week, Corsica]
  3. Madonna de la Grazia (unknown Italian Renaissanse Composer, arr. Kostas Vomvolos) [popular hymn to Virgin -tarantella- from Southern Italy]
  4. Vorskan Ahper (K.Arsdamian - Avedic Isahagian) [lament of the mother for the dead son, popular song from Armenia]
  5. Organiko Armeniko (composition Haris Lambrakis)
  6. Planctus Ante nescia (arr. Kostas Vomvolos) [lament of the Virgin from the medieval manuscript Carmina Burana, 9th - 11th century]
  7. Como poden per sas culpas (arr. Kostas Vomvolos) [from the Cantigas de Santa Maria, coll. By Alfonse the Wise, Spain 13th century]
  8. Simeron mavros ouranos (arr. Kostas Vomvolos) [dirge of the Virgin from Central Greece]
  9. Christo Jesus [La Cruz] (R. Caldavella - H. Grane/L.Saavedra - H. Musiera) [extract of the Crusifixion from the 'Evangelio Griollo' -popular adaptation of the Bible- from Argentina]
  10. Agnus Dei (arr. Haris Lambrakis) [extract from the african popular Mass "Missa Luba", on the Passion, Congo]
  11. Saeta por Carcelera (Antonio Murciano) [sacred song -saeta- from the processional chants of the Holy Week, Spain]
  12. Tara at Amama Salibi (arr. Haris Lambrakis) [hymn to the Viregin from the Maronite Christian tradition of Lebanon]
  13. Rosa das Rosas (arr. Kostas Vomvolos) [song to the Virgin from the collection of Alfonso the Wise, Spain, 13th century]
  14. Archontes afougraste moy (arr. Kostas Vomvolos) [dirge of the Virgin from Cyprus]
  15. Ave Maria, Deus ti salvet Maria (arr. Haris Lambrakis) [sacred hymn to the Virgin, 13th century, Sardenia]
  16. Passiuna (arr. Kostas Vomvolos) [popular religious song -carols- of the greek-speaking area of Apulia-Salento, in Southern Italy, for the Holy Week]
  17. Virgjer Odhijitrie (arr. Haris Lambrakis) [popular religion hymn to the Virgin Leader, protector of the Arvanites, that is Albanian speaking, area of Southern Italy and Sicily]
  18. Oh, glyki moy Ear (arr. Kostas Vomvolos) [from the byzantine encomiums of the Good Friday Lament]
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Dreams Of The Mermaid (1986)
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Those songs, that I wouldn't hesitate qualify them as "adolescent" when it comes to their lyrics, were written between 1975 and 1985. They were released in 1986 under the title Is King Alexander Alive?, a title alluding to my friend Alexandros as well as to the sense of bereavement transpired. I dedicated the album to Alexandros, and never wrote lyrics ever since. As for music, I've been wri- ting under commission only. For the orchestration I used four channels, my voice in multiple takes transferred for strings, a DX21 synthesizer and my guitar. Three of the songs "A Morn spent in a Foreign City", "Yellow - Blue", and "Note", were orchestrated at the studio by the musicians. I literally hacked the poem by Yorgos Koropoulis, without even ask for his opinion, strongly sub- scribing, back then, to an extended notion of communal ownership, literary ownership notwithstand- ing. I have to thank him for his friendship and sense of humor that have prevented him from getting mad at me.
The two pieces written by my sister, were parts of her diary and I set them to music, just as they were.
Savina Yannatou

Proino se xeni poli
Lyrics: Sophia Yannatou
Kitrino -Ble

Optiki apati
Lyrics: Yorgos Kompoulis
Ke pes pos
Zi o Vasilias Alexandros
Lyrics: Sophia Yannatou
Argi lipsi
Me ton Bill Evans sto Pik-ap
13. NOTE
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Savina Yannatou/ Lena Platonos ANAPNOES (1997)
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  1. Tha'rthis
  2. Mono ti skia tis
  3. Aftoshediasmos 1
  4. Thea thia
  5. Stin erimo
  6. H Margarita
  7. Drepome
  8. To klik
  9. Xana edo
  10. Aftoshediasmos 2
  11. Kinisis
  12. To oneiro
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Savina Yannatou/ Lena Platonos KARIOTAKIS
(13 tragoudia me tin Savina Yannatou)
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  1. Vradi
  2. Hamogelo
  3. Anixi
  4. Se palio simfititi
  5. Pediko
  6. To feggari apopse
  7. Se desmi apo triantafilla
  8. Ta grammata sou
  9. Kritiki
  10. I pedias ke to nekrotafion
  11. Pethenontas
  12. Mono
Music by : Lena Platonos
Vocals by: Savina Yannatou

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The Age, Melbourne, Australia
29 October 2002

Melbourne Concert Hall, October 27

Percussionist Petros Kourtis wore castanets around his ankles so that while his hands beat out the drum rythms, he jogged up and down on the spot. You could forgive a recital any shortcomings after that. Kourtis is a member of Primavera en Salonico, the group accompanying Greek singer Savina Yannatou on her first Australian appearance.

Yannatou’s program offers a wide range of songs garnered mostly from that fascinating hotchpotch of Eastern and Western cultures, the Mediterranean. Her signature tune, for example, with which she begins and ends the concert, is called lu Purtuni (The Door), from the old Greek towns of southern Italy. It is a curse against death, a simple folk song, delivered with droll humour.

Her concert reflects this eclectic cultural garnering. There are Greek songs from Cyprus sund in the Turkish style, all laconic senuality, Spanish songs in which you can hear the Moorish sob in such lines as “Her beauty enslaved me”, and a lilting lullabye of Bedouin-Israeli origin. You sense a political undercurrent of deliberately crossing cultural frontiers and rivalries. Her music and her style might be called levantine Womad.

Yannatou’s musicianship is extraordinary, yet her approach is restrained. She lets the music do the wooing. There is something medieval about a young woman with a tambourine, singing to drum and tambour accompaniment. Her aproach is to begin with deceptive innocence and then let carnal, peasant earthiness emerge.

Later in the concert, the group’s leader, Kostas Vomvolos, cut loose on a quanun, a kind of plucked zither, and Yannatou improvised a wordless song from the Carribean which tested her incredible vocal range.

Yannatou is, in fact, a chameleon; playful, sexy, and richly endowed with musical intelligence. She is an astonishing artist and I hope she sings for us again.
John Slavin

DE VOLKSKRANT, 18 June 2001

Savina Yannatou Greek star in Dutch rain
Amsterdam Roots Festival.

…A near cloud-burst provided the Greek singer Savina Yannatou a full tent which she deserved and otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. While the rain was drumming on the tent roof, she glanced into the whole with a broad smile and said: “Wow, you can’t go anywhere!.” It is a mystery why the festival organization had programmed Yannatou, with her subtle and refined music, in a tent. All the preconditions for disturbing the concentration were fulfilled: much noise from outside, clattering rain shreds of music from other stages alternating, and a continuous coming and going of visitors. That didn’t stop the small built chanteuse from offering a splendid program, with songs from many different cultures around the Mediterranean sea. Her voice is a refined, supple and multi-sided instrument which effortless reproduces the most diverging sound worlds. Thus a Sephardic lullaby is followed by an Albanian piece which starts very traditional but in the middle transforms into an avant-garde vocal uproar. Perhaps her star hasn’ t risen enough yet in our country, but Yannatou would have shown to her advantage much better on the stage of the big hall of the Tropeninstituut of the Concert Building. Because she is about the personification of the ‘real’ world music with her broad cultural gaze and musical depth, she would have deserved a more central place in the programming. At least she impressed the audience on Sunday afternoon very much, witnessing the enthusiasm with which she and her ensemble were called back for an extra…

Chicago Sun Times, October 2, 2000 – U.S.A.
Savina Yannatou at HotHouse and the Field Museum

For some musicians the idea of modernizing traditional songs entails smothering them in sappy harmonies and atmospheric synthesizers. But much of the world’s folk music is quite jagged, and by contemporary pop standards sometimes even experimental.
Greek singer Savina Yannatou has found a way to tease out the hidden affinities between the traditional and the adventurous. In concert Thursday at Hothouse, accompanied by her glorious six-piece ensemble Primavera en Salonico, Yannatou sang tunes drawn from the full Mediterranean panorama. It's gutsy for a Greek singer to sing songs from turkey - Yannatou sang a piece by master oud player Udi Hrant, performed with a lovely oud intro by yannis Alexandris – and Albania, alongside Smyrnaic songs from the ‘20s rembetika underground.
Yannatou approached some of the numbers in a straightforward manner, but in one Sardinian revolutionary song, she introduced some startlingly guttural throat singing. Suddenly Yannatou was in Diamanda Galas terrain. The queen of shriek, Galas is also Greek, and she was inspired by Greek women’s mourning ululations. Yannatou improvised while the group fragmented the melody and used its shards to build something totally new.
In a Spanish song, the band sounded even deeper leagues, proving that the musicians are all good listeners and even rather advanced improvisers. The ensemble effectively used tension and release, finally taking the piece out of the deep end onto the solid ground of its melody.
By John Corbett

Toronto Star, Saturday, March 24th 2001

To some, the Greek singer Savina Yannatou is best known as an interpreter of baroque and early music. To others it’s her experimental jazz work that distinguishes her. Unless you’re a Greek music devotee yourself, you may not know her in any context.
But with this release of songs from 14 Mediterranean countries, sung in almost as many languages, Yannatou should enter into your musical lexicon. As noted Greek producer and arranger Kostas Vomvolos has pointed out, the term “Mediterranean” is used almost as often to evoke a certain attitude and style, as it is to designate a specific geographic location. And despite some quite distinct musical traditions represented on this recording, there is a sense of a whole. This unification is achieved in part by a similarity of instrumentation across these traditions, but largely because Yannatou’s exquisite voice – which conjures colours, moods and a spirit – is undeniably, and beautifully, Mediterranean.
Reviewed by Li Robbins

De Morgen, 21 August 2000 – Belgium
Torhout World

… With the concert of Savina Yannatou Torhout World regained it’s intensity. In her program the singer pursued the music of the Mediterranean area. During this fascinating journey Savina could thoroughly reveal her vocal talent: with the leisurely melodies of the Arab-Andalousian music, in the throat singing of the Sardinian music, the frolicsome songs of Southern Italy or the traditional music of her homeland. Ad to that her excellent group and it becomes clear that the lovers of Mediterranean music were perfectly satisfied.

Diario de Burgos, 8 May 2000 - Spain
The Voice of 1001 Nights

…An incomparable concert. Savina sang like the angels. Like the nightingales. I have no words to describe it. I can only say that she sings exactly as she wants, without any technical or expressive limit. The dream voice. We must assume that the Greek singer has received a divine gift.
… (The songs) were executed with a marvelous group of instrumentalists, who are very fond of improvisation and who showed the most innovative tendencies in their approach to traditional music…
By Roberto Villareal

Concert Schedule:
For the latest Concert information Contact:
Helen Kontos
UNITED WORLD Music Management
P.O.Box 1612
54006 Thessaloniki

TOUR DATES 2003 (free dates available, contact details below)

15 - 20 April USA
16 April New York Joe's Pub
17 April Washington DC Kennedy Center, Foyer

24 - 30 May Austria – Germany
24 May Vienna, A Szene Wien
25 May Stuttgart, D SWR
26 May Munich, D BR
27 June travel
28 May Bielefeld, D Weltnacht Festival
29 May ???

7 - 11 June Germany, Marocco
8 June Moers, D New Jazz Festival
10 June Rabat, Mar. Royal Theatre

20 - 27 June Germany, Switzerland, Austria
21 June Bremen, D Schlachthof
22 June Kassel, D Kulturzelt
23 June ???
24 June ???
25 June Zürich,CH Moods
26 June Dornbirn,A Origiano festival
12 July (or 27 July) Voices festival, Lörrach, D.

13 September Barcelona, Spain

8 -18 October Belgium, Netherlands
9 Oct. Beveren, B Cultural Center Ter Vesten
10 Oct. Lommel, B Cultural Center Adelberg
11 Oct. Rotterdam, NL Windows to the World, Festival
12 Oct. Roeselare, B Cultural Center De Spil
13 Oct. free
14 Oct. Antwerp, B Aarenbergsschouwburg
15 Oct. Gent, B Handelsbeurs
16 Oct. Brussels Espace Senghor
17 Oct. ?

4 - 10 November Scandinavia

24 November - 8 December North-Amercia

Early March France
8 March Caen

End March Australia

Helen Kontos
United World Music Management
P.O.Box 1612
54006 Thessaloniki-Greece
ph. +30-2310-224093
fax. +30-2310-250787
mobile. +30-945-382478

. For More Releated Music check also:
  • Fortuna (Sephardic)
  • Eleftheria Arvanitaki (Greek)
  • Kristi Stassinopoulou (Greek)
  • Judy Frankel (Sephardic)
  • Consuelo Luz (Sephardic/Latin)
  • Haris Alexiou (Greek)
  • Chava Alberstein (Israeli)
  • Pharoah's Daughter (Middle Eastern)
  • Glykeria (Greek)
  • Rita (Israeli)
  • Ofra Haza (Israeli)
  • Achinoam Nini (Israeli)
  • Yasmin Levy (Sephardic)
  • Suzy (Sephardic)

    for more information contact
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