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Monday, 13 April 2015

Pericles Halkias; Epirot Clarinet

Pericles Halkias on YouTube

"Pericles Halkias (1908 - 2005) was an Epirot Greek clarinetist originally from the mountainous region of Pogoni in northwestern Greece bordering Albania. A virtuoso clarinetist who started playing at the age of eight, he came from a family that produced musicians going back 150 years. In the 1930s, he regularly played at the Elatos taverna, the most prestigious folk music club in pre-WWI Greece.

Halkias came to the US in 1964 and soon became a prominent figure in the Greek nightclubs on Manhattan's Eighth Avenue that had their heyday in the 1960s. In New York, he headed the Halkias Family Orchestra, and was much in demand at weddings and other celebrations in the Epirot community. Other regular members of the orchestra are Halkias's brother-in-law Lazaros Charasiades, who played laoutu (pear-shaped lute) and daire (large tambourine), and John Roussos, who plays the santouri (hammered dulcimer). He was also frequently joined by his sons Achilleas (violin) and Petros (clarinet), who both moved back to Greece.

Halkias received a NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award in 1985. In 1984, CTMD released an audio cassette titled "The Halkias Family Orchestra: Songs and Dances of Epiros" that was produced by Martin Koenig and Ethel Raim. Halkias was the subject of a subsequent CTMD audio documentary cassette entitled "Fragile Traditions." Halkias was also featured on two albums produced by Folkways. We are grateful to director John Cohen for allowing us to use excerpts from his 1988 film "Pericles in America" for this video".

Petro Loukas Halkias, son of Pericles:

Thanks, Chris

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