Giorgos Tsirigotis is interviewed by Mina Mavrou for mousikorama.gr

You suddenly turn on the radio and you are listening to “Ave Maria”, Torna e Surriento” and “Pasalimaniotissa”. The repertoire and the style change unquestionably, although the musician is the same! The reason: we are talking about Giorgos Tsirigotis, who has been studying classic music in California for ten years, and he insists that: after having understood the lyrics and the music of a song, you then try to serve it, in order to be on top of it, albeit through you!

 M.M.: When someone learns that you have been living and studying for ten years in California, he would expect that you are a musician with classical, jazz and maybe even rock repertoire. But we are dealing with a diverse musician who nevertheless has not forgotten his Greek origins. How would you describe yourself?

G.T.: Very lucky because of my musical origins and our rich musical tradition. Our musical tradition takes a lot of study, not only technically but also from the point of view of knowledge, in order to be expressed.   Very often, I listen to both traditional as well as folk music and it is obvious to me, that many years of work and study lie at the basis of the expression of these songs. Why would we, as modern cultural artists, be an exception? Living in America and working with classical music, gave me more tools to express myself and different ways to approach music.

M.M.: During your period abroad you have collaborated with well-known maestros and classical orchestras, singing operas, arias, mostly of Italian repertoire. Would you like to tell us about that period of time?
G.T.: There are so many things I would like to share: Something that is unique in America, among other things, is that highly prestigious  performances are offered at reasonable prices! I remember paying ten dollars at the San Francisco Opera House for a standing room ticket. That gave me the opportunity to watch many important artists.

M.M.: Any particular event that you would like to share?

G.T.: Yes! I went to see opera  Paliaci with the well-known tenor Roberto Aliagna. At the end of the opera, I found him and we started to chat. At a certain moment he said “I have to go to catch Pavarotti’s concert in Los Angeles”. I was speechless, I did not know that Pavarotti was performing in L.A. Despite the last-minute timing, I was able to find  a ticket. At the end of the concert I accidently ran into Mr. Aliagna! I explained to him that I had driven seven hours to hear Pavarotti and, because he knew Pavarotti, I asked him to introduce me. This occurred and the meetingwas unforgettable. I was singing every aria I knew from the theater to the parking lot.

M.M.: We live in times where young people pack their suitcases with hopes and dreams and go abroad. You did the opposite. What is your advice to younger people who leave?

G.T.: It is a personal matter for the one who makes that decision, I was pleased when I left because I saw and did things, that would not have been possible  in Greece.

When I came back, I had acquired many tools and experiences. My relationship with music would have been much different if I had never left. Nevertheless, I leave the door open to move abroad again! You never know…

M.M.: Over the last two years you have collaborated with some of the best and well known musicians. Would you like to mention some names?

G.T.: I collaborate with Thanasi Vassila, Kyriako Kouventa, Daso Kourti, Ari Kouko, Basili Ketentzoglou, Panagioti Papageorgiou, my beloved maestro Andrea Tsekoura, Taki Farazi. Furthermore, with Thodori Koueli, Apostoli Vaggelaki, Gianni Moutsaki and Jamie Robert Smith.

M.M.: In what way have these people become more mature ?

G.T.: The essence and idiom of our music has always been handed down from one generation to the next through the expression of singers and musicians. Sincerely speaking, every one of the above-mentioned musicians have been teachers to me, and through their experiences I am learning what to do in a significant way. It is not by chance that I am trying to work with these artists.

M.M.: With the same easiness that you sing “Ave Maria”, you are singing “Τοrna e Surriento”, “Bloods of love” and “Pasalimaniotissa” I am speaking from the point of view of the quality of your voice and the technique to your singing. I have heard other singers treating their songs as if they were their children…with endless love! What is your experience?

G.T.: Every style of music and song has its own way to be expressed. First you need to understand the lyrics in themselves and then how music conveys the lyrics, and how the rhythm interplays along with the musical path or tradition; the change of harmony etc. Once you understand these components, you try to serve them which enables you to be on top of the piece even though the music is coming through you! In reality my relationship with music is a journey of self-awareness that includes large challenges, many happy moments; at times disappointments and then you start all over again…

M.M.: There are some artists who consider it necessary give a label to their style and work, believing they will do better in the music business. This does not seem to apply to you or else is it something you are afraid of?

G.T.: I am not interested to put labels on my work but I try very hard to be consistent! The programs and choices I make must always touch me and in that way the audience can be touched.

M.M.: Where do you think the talent stops and the study comes in; or else where the musical knowledge stops and the talent comes in?

G.T.: As time goes by, our studies – what we learn – penetrate to a deeper level and become part of the fabric our being. In that way, the talent and the knowledge are united to become one unity.

M.M.: Some time ago your new work “The Wind” was released, an album that contains folk, traditional and jazz flavors. Can you speak about it?

G.T.: It is a very powerful work, thanks to the composer and good friend Nikos Pitloglou who worked very diligently. Our first song The May, composed by Andreas Katsigiannis and lyrics by Stella Doumou, is a very sensitive song, wherein the flute of Xaris Lamprakis and the violin of Kyriakos Kouventas unfold in their sweetness. The Fora Partida,  composed by Nikos Pitloglou and lyrics by Alice Tori, with Balkan orchestration, is enriched with life, rhythm and energy.

The debut song The Wind, composed by Andrea Katsigianni and lyrics by Alice Torri, is a beautiful and modern ballad with a fresh sound. The song Short Horizons composed by Nikos Pitloglou and lyrics by Gianni Giavara is a very strong song, with more of a rock component. The saxophone played by Takis Paterelis is a big surprise! Overall many great musicians played on the CD: Thanos Mixailidis on percussion, Thanasis Sofras on contrabass, Dasso Kourti on accordion, Giannis Arvanitakis on trombone, Belvetinos on trumpet and Elisabeta on violin. Without these talented musicians, the work would not be the same.

M.M.: In your debut song it is said, “Like the wind I will spread my wings”, so in which direction you will spread you wings this time?

G.T.: The wings are already spread as widely they can. For sure, the wings are spread to move in the right direction right now, and I am certain this work will find its own path.

M.M.: This Saturday we will find you at the 1000 and 2 Nights musical club. My question: How will we find you? As a tenor or a nostalgic singer of Rembetiko and folk music?

G.T.: Our performances have a theatrical perception, there is enough room for a tenor, folk singer and a musician.

M.M.: I wish you good luck to your album, and all the best to you!

G.T.: Thank you so much, I wish you the same!

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