Renowned artist of the Greek music scene, Alkistis Protopsalti, visited the Greek Community of Melbourne on Wednesday morning, where she spoke about her experience visiting Australia so far, her upcoming performance at the Antipodes Festival, as well as issues concerning the Greek Diaspora. She also shared thoughts and memories that have shaped her both as an artist and a person.
The distinguished performer offered a magical musical experience to those gathered at the Greek Fest at Sydney’s Darling Harbour last Sunday, 19 February. The atmosphere is buzzing, as she sets high expectations for her upcoming performance at Antipodes this Saturday, 25 February, in Melbourne.
“What I will say, is that we’ve prepared a concert that is highly emotional and powerful. It represents us one thousand percent, and I think it’ll to all generations,” she said.
Given that it has been almost 20 years since her last performance in Australia, Neos Kosmos asked the worldwide star about her most recent experience with the Greek-Australian audience, at the Sydney Festival; wondering if the vibe she received was any different this time.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see that they knew all the songs!” she said emphatically.
She was also pleased to see people of all ages, from children and young adults to the elders of our community, singing together and “becoming one”.
“It was like doing a concert in Greece,” she added.
“Let’s see how Melbourne goes,” she laughed with eager curiosity.
“It’s a concert like a rainbow, full of emotion, power, and of course an uplifting mood”.
Another thing she values, is the strong bond she has created with the group of people she’s been working with “for more than ten years”.
“We’re like a musical fist, together as one.”
“Everything’s going well, just how it should be. I really hope it’ll be a night that touches everyone’s heart and soul”.
“I like to experiment with music, I don’t like to get too comfortable with what I know”
Even though her music is strongly “coloured” by artistic tones, a type of music known as ‘entechno’ in Greek, Protopsalti has experimented with many different genres over the course of her career.
“I like to experiment, I don’t like to get too comfortable with what I know, nor do I like to repeat myself all the time”, she admits to Neos Kosmos, while mentioning that every time she explores different aspects through her music “nothing is the same”.
“I’m like a trout, or a salmon, I like to swim backwards,” she said jokingly.
“So far everything has worked really well for me.”
“I like getting in touch with young people, mixing symphony orchestras with rock orchestras,” she elaborated, while expressing a particular fondness towards her “rock side”, which “touches a little bit on Europe.”
“I like to mix Greek music ‘colours’ with whatever is good for my soul.”
“And it takes different shapes, depending on the mood and the times we’re living in.”
“I get a lot of energy, joy and optimism from the children. It is truly necessary in the times we live”
The famous singer, referred to her visit at the Language and Culture school of the Greek Community in Bentleigh, as her “first wonderful experience” during her stay in Melbourne.
“We exchanged thoughts and opinions” she shared, while placing emphasis on “how serious it is for children to study, to respect parents and teachers” but noted “that the most beautiful and the most powerful tool, especially in children’s lives, is education. That is where it all starts.”
Her participation in charity events and concerts, is a true manifestation of her commitment to helping kids, as she seeks to be “close” to them in any way she can.
“I get a lot of energy, joy and optimism from the children, something that’s truly necessary in the times we live,” she said.
Her involvement with many charities such as ‘Elpida’, ‘Mazi gia to paidi’, ‘Floga’, as well as the Foundation ‘Makarios’ in Cyprus, confirms without a doubt, her efforts to support children.
Working closely with the latter, she also managed to organise a concert in the depths of Kenya, in an orphanage with “130 wonderful children” who even learned two of her songs in perfect Greek, an experience she found deeply rewarding.
The revival of Hellenism through the arts and education
Another highlight of her visit in Australia, was meeting with the Archbishop Makarios of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia. “What a wonderful man,” she commented.
She talked about ways in which a strong foundation needs to be built, that will bridge the Greek community with the Greek spirit through the power of arts and education.
According to Ms Protopsalti great emphasis should be placed on theatre saying the advent of theatrical plays, is an essential contribution to a “lasting renewal of connection with Greece”.
With the Greek language “withering away”, as the “soil that cultivates” the interest of the young generation, becomes less and less fertile with the passage of time, she also spoke about the contribution of music, in strengthening the relationship of young people with the language and values of Greek culture.
“My dream is to convey the Greek language and the Greek culture through my songs, through the music of our great composers Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hadjidakis, Stavros Xarchakos, Nikos Antipas, Stephanos Korkolis and many others. It gives me great joy to be able to spread the Greek language to places that don’t know how to speak Greek”.
Having performed in countries all over the world, something that she found quite astonishing, is the way in which Hellenism “penetrates” the bodies and souls of non-Greeks, who become “one with the Greek community”, participating in any way they can, without necessarily speaking the Greek language.
“It’s like a Trojan Horse, but in a good way. It inspires people to visit Greece, igniting their interest in the Greek language and ancient Greece.”
“Erasing the black page of history in Egypt”
Growing up as a child of refugees in Alexandria, the renowned artist recalls the tragic experiences that marked her childhood years, with her parents leaving behind everything they built.
However, her relationship with Egypt took a more positive turn a few months ago, when the state of Egypt awarded her for her contribution to Greece’s culture.
“It was extremely touching because at that time I had strong memories of my father and mother, thinking that if they are watching me from somewhere high above, they would be deeply satisfied. It almost felt like erasing a black page of our history with Egypt.”
With regards to politics
In 2015, she served as deputy minister of tourism, for 22 days, a position she described as greatly “honorary”.
However, for those wondering if politics is something she would potentially consider again, the Greek music star, stated: “I have music in my blood, not politics.”
“For me, my life, my dream, my thoughts, my soul is music.”
As for the future
Whether Australia will become a more frequent destination for the famous singer, given the “green light” it’s safe to say that her visits are expected to be more regular.
“I like to travel; I like to get in touch with Greeks living outside of Greece.”
As for the saying that “Greeks that live overseas are twice as Greek”, she dares to take it a step further.
“Greece is so ingrained within them that I see it in their eyes, I see it in their skin, I see it in the way they speak. This is something deeply moving to me.”
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