Click here to subscribe to my newsletter which is emailed once a month
News for April
I hope you were not the victim in too many pranks on April Fool’s at the start of the month! This month I will be Greece, spending time in Athens and Crete. It has been years since I have been in Crete over Easter, and I can’t wait to immerse myself in the scents of all the blossoming flowers and indulge in the myriad colours spread across the mountains. Many people associate Crete with summer holidays on hot sandy beaches, but the delicate climate of the island at Spring time and all the vegetation coming to life makes it whole different place to be; an artist’s paradise.
After I return, I will start teaching a new vocal course in ‘Middle Eastern Singing’ at the Arab British Centre in May. The course is organised by Taqsim School who specialize Middle Eastern music education. The focus of the course will be on developing the voice through singing repertoire including Arabic, Turkish, Greek and Ladino. Emphasis will be given on building a solid vocal technique, stylistic interpretation and music theory. The lessons will take place every Saturday in May and need to be booked in advance. For more info visit this site here.
I will also be starting a new Saturday Music Club at Churchfield School for Enfield Music Service. In these sessions I will be focusing on building general musicianship with the children and having fun on a Saturday morning, through singing, music games and storytelling. For more on all the great educational opportunities Enfield Music Service provides to the Borough, visit their site here.
I was recently been invited to write on the Skoog Blog. The Skoog is a new musical instrument designed specifically for children with special needs. It is a colourful squishy cube that plugs into a laptop and responds musically to touch. I’ve been using it in my work with percussionist Vasilis Sarikis in our project ‘Dunya Duo’, and you can read more about our experience using it here.
I hope that you have a wonderful Spring Break wherever you may be and whatever you might be doing.
News for March
It was a pleasure to start off the month playing with Vasilis Sarikis (percussion) and our project Dunya Duo for a charity event held by ‘Alfanar’ on the 8th of March. The charity organised a dinner and auction to raise funds for their work helping disadvantaged communities in the Arab world. ‘Alfanar’ were the first philanthropist charity to work exclusively in the Middle East, and their outreach focuses especially on women and children. To support them or read more about the difference they are making in the world, click here.
Later on in the month I will be singing a couple of traditional Greek songs at the book launch of ‘Folk Stories from Thessaly’ written in Greek by Stella Traganida. The book will be presented at ‘Arahni Greek-Cypriot Women’s Centre’ on Thursday the 27th of March at 6.30pm. More info here.
It has been a great joy working with Sudanese singer Amira Kheir on her second album ‘Alsahraa’. I contributed with some nay playing on the album title track which is now available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon etc on the 17th of March. More info on her music and upcoming gigs on her website here.
I also wanted to bring to your attention two particularly interesting concerts in London this month. This week fRoots are celebrating 35 years of their magazine publication with a concert at the Southbank on Friday the 14th of March at 7.30pm. Further details about the concert here and more info on fRoots here.
Towards the end of the month, Natacha Atlas will be in London, playing with her band at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on Sunday the 30th of March at 8pm, info here.
Maybe see you at one of these events, or stay in touch online!
News for February
Dear Friends,I had a productive rehearsal last weekend with my band for our concert the Green Note this Friday the 7th of February, and it is sounding very promising! We will be performing original compositions and music from the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East with my band consisting of: Jon Banks (kanoun, santouri), Nikos Ziarkas (oud, laouto), Vasilis Sarikis (percussion) and Ruth Goller (double bass). Tickets do sell out quickly at this venue so if you are interested you can book tickets in advance here.
I will be back at the Green Note again later on in the month, on the evening of Sunday the 16th of February. I will be playing music from the Balkans on voice, nay and kaval with Adrian Lever on guitar and tambura. This will be part of their regular ‘Gypsy Nights’ jam sessions, so you are invited to come along with your instrument and join in with us! More info here.
If you work around London Bridge and feel like having a musical lunch-break, I’ll be playing with my band at Guy’s Hospital, on Wednesday 19th of February at 1pm. This concert in the hospital’s atrium is part of their free weekly concert series. I will be joined by Michalis Kouloumis (violin), Nikos Ziarkas (oud, laouto) and Vasilis Sarikis (percussion) to play original compositions and music from the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. More info here. I work as musician playing in the hospital wards every month for the charity ‘Breathe Arts Health Research’, who aim at improving the healthcare environment through the arts. You can see more about the fantastic work they do here.
You might also find me in the audience for some of the upcoming events on Greek Textiles, taking place at the Hellenic Centre and the British Museum. This Wednesday the 5th of February evening, the Hellenic Centre will have a talk on the subject: ‘From Loom and Needle to Canvas and Paintbrush: Images in Greek Costume in 19th and 20th Century Painting’. The following Wednesday the 12th of February there will be a lunchtime talk in the British Museum on ‘Ancient and Modern: Greek Textiles and their Meaning’. There will also be an on-going exhibition of traditional costumes from around Greece, on display at the Hellenic Centre during this month. More information on talks and the exhibition here.
Finally I wanted to bring to your attention a book I came across recently called ‘The Storyteller of Jerusalem: The Life and Times of Wasif Jawhariyyeh 1904 – 1948’. The book is a colourful memoir of an oud-player, poet and historian living in Jerusalem during the start of the century. I heard excerpts read out at the book’s launch last month at the Mosaic Rooms. You can order a copy through Interlink Books here.
I hope you find this information interesting and useful! Maybe see you at one of the events!
News for January
Every New Year brings with it the promise for new beginnings. I hope in this one you find the courage and inspiration to do all that you previously just imagined.
I have just returned from a trip to Morocco which was awesome! I had a transcending experience playing nay during sunrise in Merzouga desert in the Western Sahara! I also couldn’t resist doing some instrument shopping, and came back with a square drum which is traditionally played by female storytellers. Also known as a Berber drum, it is made of goat’s skin stained with elaborate henna patterns, and stretched over a wooden frame, which originally was made of camel bone. A single string suspended inside the frame gives a ‘buzzing’ sound when struck. You can see a video clip here of a similar drum been played.
So apart from practising my new drum…I am settling back into the rhythms of London this month. I am spending time planning projects for the year ahead, and reflecting on all the concerts, recordings and workshops of the year that passed.
I often find January a busy time for teaching, as many creative souls decide to learn a new instrument as part of their New Year’s resolution! If this sounds like you or someone you know, do get in touch, as this month I am offering ‘2 for 1’ on lessons for new students. Buy one lesson get one free! More info on my teaching at Tutor Pages here.
My first concert of the year will be early next month at the Green Note in Camden. I will be playing with my band on Friday the 7th of February. I will be performing original compositions and music from the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East with Jon Banks (kanoun), Vasilis Sarikis (percussion) and Ruth Goller (double bass). Tickets do sell out quickly at this venue as it is such a small space, so if you are interested, you can book tickets in advance here.
Wishing you all the best for 2014!
News for December
Dear Friends,We have reached the final month of 2013 and whilst you are checking your to-do and to-buy lists for Christmas or New Year, I hope you are finding time to listen to some good music and be merry!
I am going to be heading up to Cambridge for a concert with my group on Fri 13th of Dec. The concert will be at Anglia Ruskin University, as part of their lunchtime concert series in the Mumford Theatre. We will be playing my own compositions and Music from the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East from 1.10-2pm and entrance is free. Joining me will be Michalis Kouloumis (violin), Jon Banks (kanoun), Vasilis Sarikis (frame drum, riq, darbuka, cajon, percussion) and Ryan Trebilcock (double bass). For more info visit this link.
Vasilis Sarikis and our project ‘Dunya Duo’ will also be heading down to Eastbourne this month to deliver some workshops on the Skoog with ‘Live Music Now’. The Skoog is a new musical instrument designed specifically for children with special needs. It is a colourful squishy cube that plugs into a laptop and responds musically to touch. Vasilis and I have trained to use it and assist students to make music in this new way, finding creative outlets for expression through the body. To see the Skoog in action click here.
After a busy and eventful year, I feel it is time to take a break and gather together energy for the next year ahead. I will be travelling to Morocco with my partner and percussionist Vasilis Sarikis. We are hoping to soak up Gnawa music and culture in Essaouira and loose the sense of time listening to street musicians and trying out instruments in the markets of Marrakech. I would be happy to hear about your own adventures or any advice you have visited these places! Whatever your plans are for the Winter Break and the New Year, I hope you find the time to create moments of joy and rest, and to reflect on the year that has past.
News for November
I hope this newsletter finds you well. This month enters with screams and shouts for me, with the release of ‘Total War: Rome 2’, a new war and strategy game produced by SEGA, in which I recorded Middle Eastern style vocals. Players work with the Greco-Roman, Barbarian and Eastern culture’s political systems, taking the role of historic leaders and planning strategic attacks to lead their army’s into victory. The evocative sounds and visuals are sure to make this one of SEGA’s best series. For a taste of the graphics and sound click here and for more info on the game visit SEGA here.
On a more peaceful note, I am happy to be collaborating with ‘Musiko Musika’, leading world music workshops in schools across London. Last month I joined them for workshops at Stoneydown school in Walthamstow, and later this month we will be at Orion School in Collindale. ‘Musiko Musika’ run a number of projects in music education, funded by Arts Council England and Youth Music, more details here.
Despite all the teaching, I am excited to be ‘returning to the classroom’ and taking a CPD course this month with ‘The Voices Foundation’. Lead by Carol Kendall and funded by Arts Council England, this 5 day course will be focusing on developing a more vocal approach to music education. For more information on the work of ‘The Voices Foundation’ visit their website here.
Thank you for your support and continued interest
News for October,
Dear Friends, I am happy to share with you a number of performances I will be doing in October.
The month started off with a performance of the poem ‘Prophetic Children’ at Europe House, on the 2nd of Oct. The poem, written by Fathieh Saudi describes the lives of the prophets: Abraham, Jesus, Moses and Mohammad. The performance supported by ‘Exiled Writers Ink’ was read by four poets/actors with music by myself (nay and voice) and Danae Elleni (voice). The performance will be repeated as part of the ‘Nour Festival’ at the Ismaili Centre on 27th of Oct. Further details here.
I always feel like world music festivals are most suited to the summer months, but it feels like a treat to be playing at an indoor Autumnal 3-day music festival in Whitby. ‘Musicport’ is in its 14th successful year running, and I’m happy to be part of the line-up with the Jadid Ensemble. I will be playing nay alongside band leader guitarist Glenn Sharp, for some Arab-Flamenco inspired music. Tickets and info here.
My band and I will be making a comeback in London since our last performance in February, with a concert at City University on the 22nd of Oct. I will be performing my own compositions as well as music from the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East with Jon Banks (kanoun), Vasilis Sarikis (frame drum, riq, darbuka, cajon, percussion) and Ruth Goller (double bass). The concert will be part will be part of the ‘Inside Out Festival’ .The festival is curated by ‘The Cultural Capital Exchange’ showcasing the contribution of Universities to London’s cultural life. This concert is free to attend, but a booking is required, here.
Also, a big thank you for your emails reflecting on my newsletters, I am always happy to hear from you!
News for September
I hope the summer has left you refreshed and relaxed! I had an inspiring time in my village in Crete and caught up with the Athens music scene in August. With the start of the new academic year, September is often a time for me to focus on my teaching in the year ahead.
This year I will be taking up three new teaching posts. I will be joining Enfeild Music Service as a woodwind tutor, teaching flute and recorder in two schools in the Borough. I am also excited to assist leading the North London ‘Ethnic Classical Contemporary Orchestra’, a project organised by Enfeild, Barnet and Haringey Music Services in conjunction with ‘Musiko Musika’. The project, including performances and workshops, will run as an after-school club in three North London schools over a period of two-years. For more info, click here
Next month I will also be running a Ney course at the Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centre in Warren Street. I will be giving group lessons every Thursday 6.30-8pm focusing on Ney technique, Classical and Folk repertoire, makam (modal theory), usul (rhythmic theory) and taksim (improvisation). For more information and to sign up to classes visit the Yunus Emre Centre here.
With these new posts, I will still continue to have time for my students which I see privately in NE London and across the globe via Skype! It is such a joy for me to watch students develop on their instruments over time. I particularly admire all the adult students I have, who despite work and family commitments, still find the time to educate themselves and learn and instrument. To encourage this studying, over September I am offering free introductory lessons to anyone interested! If you are wondering how you can possibly get a sound on the nay, how to play flute and recorder, or how to do those fast Eastern vocal ornaments, get in touch!
News for August
I hope you are enjoying the summer! I am taking the whole of August off to spend some time in my village in Crete. I will also spend a week doing a Balkan Music Course on kaval with Ivan Varimezov at Ross Daly’s Labyrinth Music Centre. Ivan is an outstanding Gaida player and bearer of the Bulgarian music tradition, along with his wife, singer Tzvetanka Varimezova. You can watch a video of them here, and find out more details about Labyrinth here.
Things return to normal in London this year, without the Olympics hype we had last summer! Some great festivals are back and I was pleasantly surprised to visit the Turkish Festival on the Southbank and the Africa Festival in Covent Garden this year. I also strongly recommend the art exhibition ‘Vemeer and Music’ at the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition displays 17th Century Dutch paintings with the subject of music. There are also instruments on display and performances from the ‘Academy of Ancient Music’. The exhibition coast £7 and is on until the 8th of September, more info here.
Enjoy the sun whilst it lasts and I hope to catch up with you all in Autumn!
News for July
As the festival season has officially started, I hope you are getting the chance to listen to some original and inspiring music outdoors! My highlight in the past month was playing nay and doing backing vocals for Natacha Atlas on FIP Radio France, in Paris. A video of the full concert and a podcast are available here
I am happy to be performing at a Gala for Wallee at St.Ethelburga’s, on Saturday the 6th of July. St.Ethelbruga’s has always been a favourite venue of mine, and its music director Wallee McDonald will now be moving on. Wallee curated their ‘Listen to the World’ concert series over eight years and 200 gigs. For his last concert musician’s that have frequented the venue will give short performances. I will perform solo and with bass player Daphna Sadeh. More info on Daphna here and for booking tickets here.
A Serbian Fairy Tale project was Funded by the Arts Council and the Serbian Council of Great Britain to mark the bicentenary of the Brother’s Grimm publication of Fairytales. Lead by Jelena Curcic, it is a Live Literature Project using spoken word, music, literature, illustration and art. Having completed a London tour, it will be travelling around the UK this Autumn. I will be taking part in the last London performance, playing some Greek/Bulgarian kaval and singing, this Sunday the 7th of July, at Cable Street Studios, at 8pm, £5 entrance. More details and tickets here.
Later on in the month on Saturday the 13th, I will be travelling to York to give a private performance at Berden Hall for the ‘Mazazik Middle Eastern Dance’ group, run by Jane Wass. I will be playing nay with guitarist Glenn Sharp and his group ‘Jadid Ensemble’. Jane and I recently collaborated at a Dance Retreat in Ireland, so it will be nice to see her again! Glenn and I have been friends but never had the chance to collaborate before, so I am looking forward to this first! More info on Glenn here.
As always, I can’t thank you enough for your interest in my work
News for June
The summer months come and opportunities for travel arise. Last month I travelled to Ireland, to West Cork for the ‘Mazizak Egyptian Dance Retreat’. I played music with Guy Shalom (percussion) for dance workshops lead by Jane Wass. Highlights of the weekend included the evening performance and improvising in the outdoors! The venue was the beautiful ‘An Sanctoir Holistic Community Centre’. More info about Jane Wass here, Guy Shalom here, and An Sanctoir here.
Next week I have the delight of travelling to France for a concert in Paris with Natacha Atlas. I will be playing nay with her band for a live radio interview/performance on Radio France on Thursday the 6th of June.
I also wanted to bring to your attention to frame-drum workshops that Vasilis Sarikis is doing as part of the ‘SOAS World Music Summer School’. Lessons will take place from the 24-28th of June at 5-7pm at SOAS in Russel Square. I will be joining Vasilis for some of the sessions to play a few melodies on the nay that students can drum to. For workshop bookings click here and for a video of Vasilis playing frame drum click here
Thank you for your support. Knowing that you read this newsletter encourages me to be a better artist!
News for May
I hope you are enjoying the long awaited warmth of Spring! I am taking some time off this month for a break during Greek Easter which is this weekend. I will spend some time in Yorkshire and hope to be relaxed and inspired by the beautiful countryside and friendly people there.
Later on in the month I will be doing a small performance at Cultural Co-operation’s ‘Artist Showcase’, taking place at Goodenough College in Russel Square, on Thursday the 16th of May, in the evening. Cultural Co-operation is an organisation promoting cultural heritage in arts and education. For more info on their work and bookings for the event click here.
I’d also like to share with you a nay taqsim which I just uploaded on Soundlcloud, here. It is an improvisation I did on Arabic flute, trying to bring out a variety of instrumental colours, whilst blending different maqam (modes).
Thank you for your continued interest and support
News for April
I hope you have some fun time over the Spring Break this weekend. I wanted to share with you some projects I have planned this month:
Next week I will be performing a live score with Amira Kheir’s band for a silent 1920’s film. ‘Sumurun’ directed by Ernst Lubitsch is based on one of the stories of the Arabian Nights. The project will be presented in London at the British Film Institute as part of the ‘Sound and Silent’ festival, next Thursday the 4th of April, and in Bristol at The Watershed on Sunday the 14th of April. Click on the links for: a clip of the film, BFI details and Watershed details.
Later on in the month, Vasilis Sarikis and I will be giving workshops with our project ‘Dunya Duo’, in ‘Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Singing and Percussion’. The workshops will take place at St.Ethelburga’s Centre of Reconciliation and Peace, as part of their ‘Listen to the World’ day, on Saturday the 13th of April, 11am-1pm. The workshop price will be £15, and can be bought in advance here. There will be other workshops taking place throughout the day, including Brazilian percussion and dance.
Check out the new track I posted on Soundcloud, of an Afghan traditional song called ‘Layli Jan’. This track was arranged, performed and recorded by a Youth Group I lead. It comes from a CD of World Music Songs we made, funded by BBC Children in Need, London Borough of Barnet and Paiwand. Listen here.
May Spring bring you light and warmth!
News for March
Last month was a fantastic month with projects and events gradually building up into the year. I was also pleasantly surprised to have a track featured on ‘Late Junction’ with Fiona Talkington on BBC Radio 3. The track which I recorded with my band was an old Cretan song, called ‘Dakrizo me Parapono’, which I arranged using harmonies from Greek Byzantine Chant. It was placed preceding a track from Stephan Micus’s new album ‘Panagia’ (meaning Virgin Mary in Greek) featuring music set to six Greek Orthodox prayers. This episode on the 6th of February was another really thought out program from Fiona Talkington, finding elements that connect music from different genres and cultures. Details of the program’s playlist can be found here and listen to future programs here.
I am happy to start this month with a performance tonight at St.Ethelburga’s, with the work ‘Prophetic Children’; a sequence of poems which imagine the childhoods of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed, written by Fatieh Saudi. Vasilis Sarikis (percussion) and myself (voice, nay) have been working on a musical backdrop that gives first place to the text which will be read by Fatieh Saudi, Katie Rose, Rafiq Abdullah, and John Cash and directed by Simon Keyes. Tonight will be the first staged performance in the UK, which will later be toured in synagogues and mosques in London. More info here.
If you would like to watch this but cannot make it all the way down, then join us from the comfort of your home through live streaming in the UK and Internationally here.
Later on this month, on the 24th of March, I will be performing with a collective of Greek musicians at Mythopolis. The event is to celebrate the Greek National holiday of the 25th of March, commemorating the 1821 Revolution for Independence from Ottoman rule. It will be a relaxed Sunday afternoon performance with Greek meze, in a space open to families and children. More info here.
Finally, I decided to do the Linkedin thing, and set up a profile last month! If you are also there and would like to connect, do send me a link here.
Thank you for continuing to read this newsletter!
News for February
I hope by now you are settled into 2013, and have started to materialise any resolutions you had! Last month, I have been rehearsing with my band and we are all psyched up for our upcoming concert at St.Ethelburga’s next week on Friday the 8th of February. We will be performing my own compositions and music from the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East with Jon Banks (kanoun, santour), Vasilis Sarikis (darbuka, daff, riq, daouli), Ruth Goller (double bass) and special guest Theo Lais (lafta, lyra, laouto, guitar). Doors open at 6.45pm, the concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £10 in advance or £12 on the door. There will also be drinks and delicious cooked food available. Click here for info.
This beautiful venue, once a church bombed by the IRA is located in the heart of commercial London, and has a series of world music concerts you might be interested in, here. I am indebted to Wallee McDonald, the music director and world music promoter, for this quote he gave me: ‘Kalia is one of the UK’s leading world music singers’. What an honour!
Thank you to everyone who listened to the BBC Radio 3 ‘World Routes’ show I was featured on, and who emailed me positive feedback. If you didn’t have a chance to listen, the podcast is now available here.
I still have fresh in my ears the sound of Theodosii Spassov’s kaval, at a concert he gave with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican on the 31st of January. As I am learning the kaval myself, Theodosii is a great inspiration to me. He completely re-invented the instrument and increased its capabilities, blending Bulgarian music with Jazz, Classical and Experimental. If you don’t know his work I urge you to check out his website here, or this video of him playing kaval during a sunset on the island of Santorini in Greece….!
I hope you enjoy this month, and for the romantics amongst you, here are some lyrics from one of the love songs I have written called ‘Roumbalia’:
Από τα χείλει σου τα δύο, κρέμμετε η ζωή μου, Κι αν δεν σε δώ για μιά στιγή, μαράινεται η ψυχή μου
From your two lips, does my life hang, And if I do not see you for one moment, my soul withers
News for January
I hope you are having a good start for the New Year. I wish you every success and joy in all that you do this year!
I am excited that my first concert of the year will be with my partner Vasilis Sarikis and our project ‘Dunya Duo’ at Warwick Arts Centre on Thursday the 10th of January. We will perform our own compositions and arrangements of music from the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Our concert will be part of their lunchtime series from 1 to 2pm in the Ensemble Room at Gibbet Hill Road, Coventry, CV4 7AL. Entrance is free and more details can be found here.
‘Dunya Duo’ will also be playing at the Migrant and Refugee Forum on the 18th of January. We look forward to doing some community music and exchanging stories and songs with London immigrants. For more information on the support the form provides to immigrants click here.
Tune in to BBC Radio 3 for the show World Routes with Lucy Duran on Sundaythe 20th of January at 10.30pm. Lucy invites me to the studio for an interview and a live recording of my music. The show will feature discussion, music from Crete, and my own compositions inspired by the music of Thrace and Asia Minor. Go to the website here.
I wanted to give you a little heads up about a concert happening in the first week of February. I will be playing with my band at ‘St.Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace’ on Friday the 8th of February. I will be performing original compositions and music from the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East with Jon Banks (kanoun), Vasilis Sarikis (percussion) and Ruth Goller (double bass). I will also be delivering a workshop and further details will be posted in my next newsletter. The concert will start at 7.30pm and tickets are £10 in advance or £12 on the door. Click here for info.
Kali Hronia (Happy New Year)!