The Embassy of Greece in Cairo organising a musical performance dedicated to rembetiko

By Manal abdel Fattah

The Embassy of Greece in Cairo, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of Egypt, in particular the Foreign Cultural Relations Sector and the Cairo Opera House, isorganising a musical performance dedicated to rembetiko; an iconic Greek musical genre with roots traced more than a century ago, generated under specific social and political circumstances and influenced by Greek folk songs, as well as music and songs of Asia Minor Greeks.

The event is part of the celebrations on the occasion of Greece’s National Day of 25th of March 1821.

Rembetiko, a musical and cultural expression directly linked to song and dance, spread gradually in urban working-class populations and evolved post-World War II as a powerful identity symbol of the Greek music, as well as an integral part of the collective memory of the Greek people.

Despite its old history, rembetiko has been a living “organism” which has enormously influenced – and still does – Greek music.

Many researchers have identified analogies between rembetiko and other music genres, such as the Portuguese fado, the Argentinian tango, the American blues etc., which, just like rembetiko, share also the fact that they all started as a marginal form of musical expression of the outcasts and disenfranchised and ended up being the music trade mark of the respective nations, proudly cherishing it as an integral part of their identity.

Rembetiko was inscribed, in 2017, in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. You can watch a related video here.

The musical performance “The Rembetiko Music in Cairo” will take place on Monday 15 April 2024, at 19:00 hrs., at the El Gomhouria Theater, and is open to the public. A talented group of singers, under the artistic supervision of Zaharias Karounis, joined by Saveria Margiola and Denia Kourousi, all of them being long acquainted with this specific musical genre, will perform rembetiko songs, accompanied by a 10-member orchestra, supervised by Thomas Constantinou. They will be also joined by Haroula Tsalpara, the orchestra’s accordionist.

This event, taking place only a few months after the tribute concert, “Callas: In Memoriam”, also jointly organised by the Embassy of Greece and the Cairo Opera House, is another proof of their rich and long-standing cooperation. It also proves that culture, as a privileged domain in the overall cooperation between Greece and Egypt, constitutes one of the fundamental aspects of the excellent relations between the two countries and another link in the strong bonds between the two peoples.

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