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Greek musician goes down the Khan.

Summary: CAIRO - As a Mediterranean musician, he has intimate feelings for Egypt, which he describes as being part of human culture for millennia.

"This is my second time in Egypt; a few years ago I came to attend the opening of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Egypt has a special place in my heart. It is part of human culture for thousand of years. I have passion for Egyptian ancient civilisation especially for Akhenaton," said Greek-Cypriot musician Alkinoos Ioannidis, who was invited by the Embassy of Greece to give concerts in the Cairo Opera House and in Alexandria as part of the celebration of the Greek Cultural week which had started few days ago.

Ioannidis was born in Nicosia, Cyprus. He studied classical guitar at the European Conservatory and in 1989 moved to Greece. He spent the next three years studying theatre at the National Theatre Drama School and philosophy at Athens University.

As a singer-songwriter, he has released eleven solo albums. As a guest singer, he has performed on more than 40 albums with various artists. He has also written songs, arranged and produced albums for other artists, as well as composing music for dance and theatre, while his symphonic work is often performed by orchestras in Greece and abroad.

In his constantly evolving live performances, he combines electric music with choirs, improvisation, classical elements, live looping, progressive rock, jazz, Greek and Middle Eastern influences.

One of his hit songs is about the Egyptian Khan el-Khalili, a large and historic souq (market) in the Islamic district of Cairo. It is one of Cairo's main attractions for tourists and Egyptians as well.

"I like this place, Khan el-Khalili because it is old but 'not dead'. It's full of life not like a museum. It's an old market but at the same time you still feel the life of people, although it's a market that may have worked for a thousand years," Ioannidis told The Egyptian Gazette in an interview.

When performing his works, Ioannidis either heads a group, whose members include some of the best Greek soloists, or strips it right back to a solo multi-instrumental performance. He performs at about 100 shows per year, at venues ranging from 5,000 capacity theatres to small clubs and from Ancient Greek amphitheatres to modern rock stages.

"When I got the invitation to perform in the Cairo Opera House, I was so happy because this is my first time to have a concert here," added the musician, whose music is combination of traditional Cypriot, Greek and Mediterranean music combined with classical and jazz elements and rock.

The songs he write mostly talk about the existence of human beings and how people face the changes of time, which are important for life.

"It's like deep thoughts of the way we live. Sometimes my songs refer to politics," he explained.

Ioannidis prefer to write his songs in Greek although he can write them in English as he feels that his mother tongue best describes him. "In Greek I can put hidden text that are felt with our hearts and I can't do this in English."

The Greek singer is preparing a documentary about music in Egypt today. The documentary, which is being produced and will be screened on Greek TV will be released next year.

"It was supposed that this documentary would be released this year but due to unstable of political atmosphere in Egypt, we postponed it to next year. Recently we have been researching Egyptian contemporary music. I listened to interesting things. I like the way Arabian music uses Maqam [traditional tones]," explained Ioannidis.

During the concert that will be held today (Tuesday) in the Sayyed Darwish Theatre in Alexandria, the Greek-Cypriot musician Alkinoos Ioannidis will sing some songs from his discography including 'Khan el-Khalili'.

"This event is to celebrate the Greece cultural centre and 10 years of working in Egypt. For one decade we have organised every year, cultural events like concerts, artistic exhibitions, film screenings and other activities," said Christos Papadopoulos, the director of the Greek Cultural Centre in Cairo.

"We are very keen on bringing the two cultures - Egyptian and Greek - together, so we offer Greek language courses. The centre is like a small part of Greece in Egypt," he added.

"Our relationship with Egyptian organisations is more than perfect. We organise all events in co-operation with Egyptian Cultural Ministry, Cultural Development Fund, Cairo Opera House and the Foreign Cultural Relations sector in the Ministry of Culture and other," he explained.

"Since long ago, Egypt and Greece were friends and we are trying now to be more and more friendly," he added.

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Publication:The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, Egypt)
Geographic Code:4EUGR
Date:Jun 5, 2013
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