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"The songs about Kolokotronis touched my soul without me noticing it. Everyone used to sing in my village and in my home too. My mother used to say: in the evening we'll go visit your uncle and you can sing for us. I’ll pay you five cents for your performance. If my silence and embarrassment didn't go away she would tell me again: You better sing, otherwise I will have to give you ten cents".
Praise for the Greeks
Father Chris Kyriakopoulos is the presbyter of Saint Demetrius church at Kifissia He is a collector and recorder of musical folklore. He has studied music for many years and he directs religious schools and byzantine music choirs. He also collaborates with the State Radio and Television.
Born in Perdikoneri of Gortynia and influenced by folk music by traditional artists, he used to travel to all the villages for years with a tape recorder in hand and record old men and women singing. He has a special interest for songs which praise the young rebels of the Greek revolution against the Turks, who fought for their freedom.
"Hellenism finds theses songs as the most powerful means to express its deepest and feelings of nationalism. The rebels' songs do not only praise the Greek heroism but they also express a bitter complaint about injustice and victimization. They also show devotion to family, a comfort in nature, but also the horror of death and the faith in the afterlife. The rebels' songs are praise for the new complete form of the Greek, who is manly and heroic, but modest at the same time. On one hand the rebels succeed in deeds of unprecedented dare and stood horrible tortures with great endurance. But on the other hand they are magnanimous towards their adversaries, sensitive to the people who suffered and their behaviour shows emotional strength".
The snow shines
The most famous rebels' song in Peloponnese is "The snow shines", which praises Kolokotronis's glorious appearance, his impressive armour and pride. Father Chris is afraid that these songs will vanish because of the constant alterations they suffer. "We keep listening to supposedly love songs during feasts that are "tasteless" regarding their melody and lyrics. The pure folk songs express love as well, but in a very specious and decent way. They also combine love with beautiful images taken from the natural environment. Listen to a folk song and tell me if you like it:
Girl from Magouliana why are you waving at me,
together we'll celebrate this summer,
do you remember me kissing you under the plane tree, at the fountain?
Its leaves were our witnesses,
now the leaves have fallen and who is to witness,
the plane tree will witness, and the fountain will too".
TEXT-PHOTOS: GEORGE ZAFEROPOULOS