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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Music from Vitsa, Zagori; Parakalamos; Epirus, The New York Review of Books; Christopher King

Danse Macabre, Andrew Katzenstein - New York Review of Books, June 28, 2018

Lament from Epirus: An Odyssey into Europe’s Oldest Surviving Folk Music
by Christopher C. King, Norton, 304 pp., $29.95

Kitsos Harisiadis: Lament in a Deep Style, 1929–1931
an album produced by Christopher King with Vassilis Georganos
Third Man Records, $15.00

While You Live, Shine
a documentary film directed by Paul Duane

"Salty and self-deprecating, he is a lively and informative guide to Epirus. We watch him transform from a “sheltered, misanthropic record collector” into a modern Greek villager as he falls in love with the ways, rituals, and cuisine of Epirus...

King takes us to important sites in Epirus and through its history, but he’s most lively when describing the summer festivals. Panegyria last all night, with lots of food, liquor, music, and dancing. The band sets up in the center of a village square, surrounded by the villagers, who, arms linked, dance with intricate footwork in concentric circles around the musicians. King beautifully evokes his first panegyria, in the town of Vitsa:

We took in the whole works—the gears and the springs of the celebration: the cascading clarinets echoing from the village center like snake charmers’ hypnotic flutes, the disorienting smoke rising from the souvlaki pits, the hundreds of people orbiting the musicians, the unhinged aura of everything.

That night he blacked out, waking the next morning to find himself covered in blood and his glasses in three pieces. Miraculously, he had “no hangover. I was just at a loss as to where my skin had gone.” His wounds become a badge of honor, and he later refers to himself as “a Vitsanian by adoption.”

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