Composing Greek music at an international level

-You were born in Athens. Would you like to share some “secrets” about your origin?

I was born in the center of Athens but the first house I can remember is in Faliro. My school was in Nea Smirni, my best friend from Piraeus and my grandmother lived in Glyfada. All of them lived near the sea.

My fathers’ side of the family descends from Konstantinos Kanaris, one of the heroes in the revolution of independence. My great grandfather lived in Psara and later moved to Kypseli, Athens. My mothers’ family is from Andros. Τhey migrated to Alexandria of Egypt and later returned to Piraeus with Nasser’s nationalizations in the 50s. Both families played a defining role in my psyche and my journey.

-What is your strongest memory from childhood?

My endless battle to focus on my studies instead of music and play.

-Your studies, if I am not mistaken, are not related to music. How did you decide to focus on music?

Indeed, my decision to get involved with music does not coincide with its application in practice. Since my early years, music played a major role in my life. As a teenager, it became more intense but the idea of focusing on it professionally caused major tension within my family. With the secret dream that one day I would accomplish it, I studied Communication and Philosophy and luckily at the end of my studies, I got a scholarship from Berklee College of Music in Boston to study music. It was a pivotal development and a clear indication that it was worth the try. Thus, I decided to move forward with it.

-What does music mean to you?

It is a uniquely blessed medium that allows me to share ideas and emotions.

-You’ve lived in New York for years. How hard is it to network and make your dreams come true in a foreign country?

Exactly as hard as it sounds. From then on, factors like luck and character make this equation unique to each person.

-Can you describe a typical day for you in New York?

Early morning rise, exercise (I love running in Central Park, weather permitting) and commute to my private studio by subway. Once I am there, work can differ from day to day but always begins in the same way: a Greek coffee. Compositions for picture, audio, recording, practicing, rehearsing and prepping for live concerts. If there aren’t any deadlines and I still have time and energy, at the end of the day I will go out for dinner or attend other live performances in the city. I really enjoy cooking and would gladly prepare a home cooked meal, then watch an episode of our favorite television series with my companion for relaxing.

-How did your family react when you decided to live abroad?

Despite the emotional charge, they fully supported me in view of my professional development.

-Would you ever return to live in Greece?

For the time being, I spend most of my time in my second home, the United States. I would like that to change and spend more time in Greece. Especially now, that I have a wonderful niece and nephew whom I miss immensely.

-Collaboration with Manos Eleftheriou: How did it start and what does it mean to you?

It was completely random. A common friend of Manos and mine heard a sample of my music while outside of Greece and decided to put us in touch. It is very difficult to put in words how significant this development was for me. I was not part of the industry at the time, nor was I living in Greece. Yet, Eleftheriou was my favorite lyricist. So I would say that to me it means that the universe is listening!

-Few people know that you are behind the song “Stin Ygeia mas”. Tell us a few words about it.

Another random story that in fact encouraged me to stick with music during a time when I was seriously considering dropping it  altogether due to huge challenges. I say random because – just like my acquaintance with Eleutheriou – it happened while I was living in the United States and was rarely visiting Greece. During one of my visits, a friend of mine who believed in my work, urged me to give a demo of my music to the producer of the show, Vicky Laskari. As I was dropping off the demo at the studio, she kindly invited me to watch the show. This spontaneous experience inspired the song, which I gave to Laskari as a small musical token of appreciation, without of course expecting anything in return. The first version was in fact instrumental. I only wrote the lyrics after she prompted me. The fact that my song was chosen for the show was a great honor and joy and for that I am really grateful.

-Which other collaborations would you distinguish?

Besides Manos Eleftheriou, I would single out the collaboration I had with the American sound engineer and producer Neil Dorfsman, who worked with me on the sound of “Aoratos”, the song from the album that I made with Manos. Dorfsman has produced legendary albums that had marked my first musical experiences, among others “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straights and “Nothing Like the Sun” by Sting. He loved “Aoratos” just by listening to an incomplete version and generously offered to work with me.

-What does Greece mean to you?

Greek spirit. To me the Greek spirit will always be the best reason for humanity to be optimistic. I deeply believe in this.

-What question would you ask the Greek people if you had the chance?

If we were to place the common interest before that of the individual, is it possible that we might ultimately have more to gain?


Composing Greek music at an international level

Pericles Kanaris is a composer, producer, performer and founder of music band SYNOLON.

He was born in Athens, Greece. He studied music and philosophy in Europe and the United States winning multiple distinctions and awards. He has composed music for various international media. Among other distinguished credits, his composition “Project Innocence”, originally written for film, was given its world-premiere at New York’s Carnegie Hall in May 2007.

It was in Athens where he started studying classical music. He later on won the B.E.S.T. Fellowship from the Berklee College of Contemporary music, in Boston. He also studied piano and singing, he specialized in music made for the cinema, and graduated magna cum laude, winning two prizes in musical composition. In 2002 he moved to New York where he worked as a composer for Hurd Stuios, pioneers in 3D animations. In 2007 the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York chose him to release the first compilation of Greek music, in conjunction with the reopening of its world-renowned Greek and Roman galleries. In 2008 he created “Synolon”, a contemporary Greek music ensemble, which collaborated with many great artists, such as Ara Dinkjian (Night Ark) and Janis Siegel (Manhattan Transfer).

Greek music, however, has equally been a great source of passion and inspiration since the beginning of his career. He is the composer and lyricist of the song “Stin Ygia Mas” that became the title theme for the acclaimed Greek music television program with Spiros Papadopoulos, a famous Greek actor.

In October 2014 he released his debut album “AORATOS”, which means invisible, seven original songs that he has  in Greek, composed on the verses of acclaimed Greek poet Manos Eleftheriou, sang by a distinct list of prominent Greek vocalists such as Vasilis Papakonstantinou, Kostas Makedonas, Rita Antonopoulou and Lamprini Karakosta. The album was premiered at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York, garnering great reviews from the Greek and International press. The International New York Times recognized his music “a Greek Identity with Global Sounds”. He is the featured “Newsmaker of the Month” for June 2015 in the official newsletter of the Greek Embassy’s Press and Communication Office in Washington DC.

Pericles Kanaris lives between Athens and New York.

“AORATOS” is the debut album of Pericles Kanaris. Few years back, Kanaris had met Greek legendary poet/lyricist Manos Eleftheriou by a twist of fate. This led to a collaboration when Eleftheriou entrusted him with 7 unpublished poems. Kanaris composed the music and went ahead to produce the songs independently, bringing together some of his favorite artists from his 2 musical homes: Athens and New York. “Aoratos” was born as a result, featuring the work of an array of internationally recognized artists from around the globe, some of them Grammy Award winners.

“When an artist the with the size of Manos Eleftheriou entrusts a new artist with his poems/lyrics, even though there are one or two generations between us, then this means that there also things that we have in common, and I really hope these things will be shown through our album, and that the people will enjoy them very much”, says Kanaris at a past interview.