For the first time in almost a hundred years, the sounds of traditional instruments that gave “Smyrneika” music their distinct sound in the diverse family of Greek music, will ring loudly again on the quay of Smyrna harbor.
The week of April 12, 2015, a team of filmmakers and musicians will be making history. A full live Smyrneika and Rembetiko concert will be held on the waterfront of the Smyrna Quay, where ninety years ago different sounds were heard— those of crying babies and screaming women, escaping the fire that was ravaging the city.
A lot has changed in ninety years and although strained on the political level, the event will mark an incredibly positive sign of Greco-Turkish human relations in the 21st century.
The team of Hello Anatolia, the international hit documentary film, along with the Greek-Turkish ensemble ‘NeaBanda’, will embark on a journey of reviving the genre of Smyrneika right on the streets of the city of this musical genre’s birth.
Director Chrysovalantis Stamelos and producer Georgia Papadopoulou will produce the concert, which will also be filmed for a feature-length documentary and film soundtrack. The film was first supported through IndieGoGo, and has since continued to receive support and sponsorship from a global audience. ‘’Such a film would never happen without the support of so many people,’’ explains Stamelos. ‘’Through music and film, real social ties are flourishing into something greater than we had imagined. We couldn’t have done this without the support of our IndieGoGo campaign.’’
Although the crowd-funding campaign wasn’t successful in reaching its full goal, the team is forging ahead with plans thanks to private sponsors and support coming from various people and groups.
Additional support has come from the municipal government of Izmir, which sees the importance of building cultural ties with Greece and Greek culture. The municipality has also been a big part of the Greek Orthodox church restorations that have taken place in the city.
“Music was such a central part of life in Smyrna and we are honored to be bringing that back to these sacred streets. We are all aware of the history of this town and it’s impact on millions of people. Music unites and we welcome all people– Greek, Turkish and beyond, to join us in this wonderful celebration,” Stamelos added.
According to Papadopoulou, “Such a concert has never been staged in Izmir before and it is of particular significance both for the Greek-Turkish cultural exchanges making headway these days, as well as for what we like to call ‘the return of the music to its birthplace’. We see this as a celebration of the Asia Minor musical culture with all its stories retold anew by young talented musicians.”
Organizing such an unprecedented event has not been an easy feat. Nevertheless, there is nothing that can stop this team. The film is planned to shoot in several historical neighborhoods, with the musicians playing songs about these respective neighborhoods live on the streets.
Combined with a 2-part concert which will take place on both sides of the city’s waterfront, the team plans to take make the experience one to remember.
The first concert will be held outdoors on the Smyrna Quay/Alsancak Kordon at Gündoğdu at 3pm on April 12th. The second will be held that same day at 8pm in Bostanlı-Karşiyaka/Kordelio at the Suat Taşer Open Air Theater. Both concerts will be video taped for inclusion in the second part of the Hello Anatolia documentary series. Once completed, the film will be entered into film festivals internationally.
For more information on the project and concert, viewers and supporters can check out the project trailers and connect with the team through their Facebook page.