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In the Cycladic islands of Greece there is a breed of kestrels (or falcons), known as kadinelia, that mate whilst twirling in the air in an expression of absolute freedom and harmony with nature.

It is also the name adopted by the dynamic young Greek musical duet of Evi Seitanidou and Thanasis Zikas whose synergy, rhythm and vibrant guitar playing on stage left a resounding impression when they performed at venues in Melbourne, Canberra , Brisbane and Sydney during their recent Australian tour.

Greek City Times caught up with the talented duo of Kadinelia at their sold-out concert at the Red Rattler Theatre in the inner-west suburb of Marrickville in Sydney.

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Why the name Kadinelia?

The young artists explained that they were on the Cycladic island of Paros when they saw the little hawks flying above, performing their dance moves in the air, and most of the time in duos which left a great impression on them:

“So we thought that it matches with what we do with our music, how we communicate and exchange roles, from solo to rhythm. The kadinelia are a totem for us, a symbol of freedom and romanticism.”

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Photo credit: George Vardas

And this harmony and ‘chemistry’ is evident on stage.  As one critic noted, the two play a game of continuously alternating roles on their guitars, both as a duet and dynamic solos, and with their exotic vocals.

An artistic homage to the amorous flying of the kestrels.

Evi and Thanasis first met at a folk guitar exhibition in Thessaloniki in the spring of 2014.  Their common passion for folk guitars and music was a natural precursor to a great relationship, reflecting an intimacy of the soul and a shared love for both traditional and contemporary music.

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Photo credit: George Vardas

Evi Seitanidou is equally adept on guitar, the Pontian lyra and live beatbox. She grew up in a family where, as she recalls, they loved music and almost everyone sang.  Evi recounted to one journalist that “I learned to express myself in song from the cradle”, observing that singing is a “liberating, decompression process”.  She learnt the guitar and studied music and received lessons in the Pontian lyra in a music school in Veria in Northern Greece.

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Thanasis Zikas is the son of the songwriter, Giorgos Zikas, and in his school years played electric guitar before attending the School of Folk and Traditional Music in Arta where he recalled being  fascinated by traditional music.  He also became an instrument maker and as part of his studies he researched the tsabouna, often referred to as a Cycladic or Aegean bagpipe (with but five notes).

Thanasis was actually taught the tsabouna by an old fisherman on Paros.  The instrument originally hails from Mesopotamia, around 3000BC, and has not really changed over time and can now be found in the islands in Greece, specifically the Cyclades, Dodecanese and Crete.  The instrument is also imbued with Pontic traditions.

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The Sydney audience were treated to a rousing performance of a traditional Greek folksong, Τα παλαιά μου βάσανα (My old woes) with a rendition that literally brought East and West musical traditions together.

The dynamic guitar work of the duo, complete with live beatboxing, was also evident in their eclectic rendition of a traditional Pontian (Greek) folksong Κοπελιά, μίλα μου (also Κορτσόπον λαλ μεν).  Hey Girl, talk to me!

How do the two ‘kadinelia’ describe their music?

We noted that their music has been referred to as a fusion of traditional Greek folk music with elements of blues, funk, gypsy and several other world music traditions.  They have even been described as the “new iconoclasts of Byzantium”.

Evi and Thanasis prefer to call it “progressive folk”.

In another media interview, they explained that their repertoire is free, including many of their own compositions but also Greek traditional music with its interesting melodies and rhythms and varied influences.

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Photo credit: George Vardas

The local audiences were enthralled.

Dr Vassilis Adrahtas, a well-known theologian and academic, was in the audience and spoke of the “magic” of their performance:

Twenty years ago no one in Greece could have imagined a renaissance of folk/demotic music culture; no one could have foreseen the emergence of an original and creative phase in music tradition via Greek ethnic.  The KADINELIA duo is one of the proofs that the impossible is possible and that miracles happen!

Interestingly, the famous Greek composer, Stavros Xarhakos, has recently exclaimed on social media that “our soul breathes in song” and the essence of that sentiment is captured in the brilliant performance of Kadinelia with both their original compositions and arrangements of traditional songs.

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Photo by Christina Bacchiella/The Greek Fringe

Whilst in Sydney, the young artistic couple also took the opportunity to visit the iconic Opera House and described it as an “exceptional architectural creation” which they enjoyed seeing from up close, with Thanasis even mimicking the flight of their inspirational cycladic kestrels.

Christina Bacchiella, one of the promoters from The Greek Fringe was instrumental in bringing Evi and Thanasis to Australia as part of an overarching commitment to promote and celebrate contemporary culture and at the same time unveil under-represented artists and expose their hidden talents.

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Photo credit: The Greek Fringe

According to Christina, Greek Fringe is a “portal to contemporary Greek music and art” whose vision, according to their website, is:

It is time for the celebration of Greece, its people, history and art to shift to a new level. The Greek Fringe will attract talent that represents the experience of the modern Hellenic diversity. The Greek Fringe will shift beyond the folkloric representation of migration to explore the contemporary Hellenic diaspora throughout the Globe and the dynamic arts scene of mother Greece.

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Photo credit: Vasilis Vasilas

The Sydney concert given by Kadinelia, with its intense rhythmic folk motifs, acoustic melodies and overall psychedelic ambience, was the perfect expression of this noble initiative.  May it long continue.

And Kadinelia's overall experience down under?   The young artists were ecstatic:

“We enjoyed all the performances, the audience was great and embraced our music from the first note. We feel grateful and hope to come back soon.”

The musical duo are now set to produce their second album, hopefully set for release in the Spring of 2024, after their debut album in late 2019.  It will contain original compositions with "a touch of psychedelia".

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We cannot wait to see and hear more of Kadinelia.

 

George Vardas is the Arts and Culture Editor

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