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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 12-07-07

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] LyrAvlos concert of Ancient Greek musical instruments

  • [01] LyrAvlos concert of Ancient Greek musical instruments

    AMNA/ A concert featuring Ancient Greek music played on exact replicas of ancient musical instruments will be held on Saturday, in the context of the Vravronia 2012 cultural events, staged by the "LyrAvlos" ensemble at the Vravronas soccer field, with free entrance for the public.

    LyrAvlos is the conjoinment of the words "lyra" (lyre) and "avlos" (flute). "From the lyre, which represents the mythical god Apollo, who symbolises harmony and measure, and from the 'avlos', which is represents Dionysus and symbolises strength, ecstasy, passion," LyrAvlos creator, musician Panayiotis Stefos, tells AMNA. "I believe that we all have an Apollonian and a Dionysian element inside, and our group tries to include both the merry-maker and the poet in our music.

    Ancient Greek music is one of the lesser known chapters in the wide field of study of Hellenic civilization.

    Although much has been said and written about its major role in everyday life, there is still very much to be investigated in this area of the arts in Ancient Greece.

    The absence of written remains of Ancient Greek music has, for centuries, created the impression that music was not a very advanced chapter of the arts in Ancient Greece, Stefos says.

    However, our knowledge on the role and position of music in Ancient Greece has been enriched by systematic research and from literary sources, which contain a plethora of direct and indirect references, he adds.

    Stefos, together with his wife and children and friends that share his vision, has set up a group, "Lyravlos", that has undertaken the task of reconstructing the Ancient Greek musical instruments. The purpose of this endeavor is to construct precise, working replicas of the instruments that will give true renditions of the 'sheet music' from the long past that have been discovered.

    Lyravlos is recognised in Greece as well as abroad for a work not only of artistic and educational value, but also of important accomplishments in original research. From the Athens Hall of Music and the Warsaw Opera, from the Festival of Old Music in Stockholm and Corcoran Gallery in Washington, to the co-operation with the National Orchestra of Athens in the First Greek Musical Celebrations, to the participation in the festivities of the 2004 Olympic Games and with Universities such as Boston University, Sorbonne, Ionian University, University of Ioannina, also with more than 400 concerts and seminars in schools of all grades, Lyravlos has become identified with the most well documented effort towards the learning and promotion of the rich Ancient Greek musical tradition. A highlight was its participation in the ceremony for the lighting of the Olympic Flame in November 2001 for the Salt Lake City winter Olympics.

    The fundamental aim of Lyravlos ( is to revive in a scientifically documented manner and to properly promote the Ancient Greek music, by reconstructing the instruments which give life to the ancient sounds.

    Stefos, who for years was a top musician with the Athens State Orchestra, the National Opera and the Orchestra of Colours, but decided to follow a different path 15 years ago, tells us that just like today, in antiquity too music was all around, in theater, education, athletics, in the everyday joys and sorrows.

    Today, 61 ancient songs are saved in documents that are similar to today's sheet music, some on semi-ruined papyrus, or shards of stone surfaces and the like, says Stefos, adding that the best preserved piece is the Epitaph of Seikilos, which had been engraved on a circular stele circa 200 BC, which was discovered in 1883 in Aidin in Turkey.

    The Seikilos epitaph is the oldest surviving example of a complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world. The song, the melody of which is recorded, alongside its lyrics, in the ancient Greek musical notation, was found engraved on a tombstone, near Aidin, Turkey (not far from Ephesus).

    The musical notation of the ancient Greeks was alphabetical, using letters -- half, whole and slanted -- which today have been decrypted with the help of ancient manuscripts, so now we can decrypt these pieces with great precision.

    The members of the ensemble play more than 40 ancient and newer musical instruments, combining ancient melodies with traditional music, in an effort to not only acquaint the public with the ancient sounds but to also show the continuity in music.

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