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Vangelis Vlahakis

Interview



August 4, 2004



Myriad : Hello, Mr Vlahakis, thanks for answering some questions. You won the First Prize of the 11th Tune Friendly Contest with your piece "Memories of a Tango" and we wish first to know who you are. Could you please introduce yourself ?

Well my name is Vangelis Vlahakis, My father was called Dimitris and my mother is called Eva.
I was born in Heraklion Crete (that's in Greece) in 1965.
I began my musical studies when I was 15 years old, studying the classical guitar with Nikos Froudarakis, in Heraklion, later with Evangelos Assimakopoulos and Nikos Piperis, in Athens.
Also I worked for many years as a music engraver and this gave me the chance to meet with great Greek composers, like Kyriakos Tzortzinakis, Giorgos Koumentakis, Nikos Mamangakis, Dion Arivas and Alexandra Sakalis which particulary thought me the ethics of music and the freedom of technique and inspiration.
My discussions with those people along with my private studies on the works of the classic masters: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Villa-Lobos etc. are my theoretical background.
Meanwhile I was also teaching classical guitar and working occasionally as a musician.

Now I have a shop in Elounda Crete, where my fiancee Maria and me design and produce jewellery.

....Life has strange ways!!!


Myriad: On what kind of hardware are you working ?

I have a pentium IV PC in 2,3 MHz and 256 RAM but no sound card, Myriad is taking care of that.

Myriad: What has been your music itinerary ?

All my life I wanted to be a composer. I started to write music after the first lesson I took.
I also fall in love with the Guitar.
Unfortunately in 1999 just one month before my diploma examinations I was hit by an illness of the nerves called ''conduction block''. My left hand as far as guitar is concerned is almost paralyzed.
I was shocked and for three years I couldn't even stand to listen to music.
I seriously started to write again when I discovered Harmony Assistant, my first piece after all this, was also a tango and it is a part of a collection of music for solo guitar that I am finishing this days called ''The lonely Dances" some of them are published in previous contests, some will be, but by the end of August they will all be published in my site.
I have also written many songs (music & lyrics), piano music, a few pieces for string Quartet, a small guitar concerto & music for a theater play.

Myriad: Do you play an instrument (or several) ?

Recently I started to practice again playing the guitar using my left hand as right and vice versa, so far I managed to play: Romance, No 3 of Carcassi's 25 studies, Tarrega's Lagrima and two pages of Bach's Fugue in A minor, I plan to finally take my guitar degree playing backwords, a friend told me that if I do that I can apply to Guiness book of records.
I also play a little bit of piano on which i mostly improvise in my own very... very... cool Jazz style.!!
And I would like to learn to play the Harp.
If somebody has a cross strung harp for sale, not very expensive, suitable for a beginner can contact me.

Myriad: What are your tastes in matter of music ? You can quote artists or music genres if you want.

What is truth is good music.
I like every folk music from every part of the world and also rock music (My favorite song since I was a child was Don Macleen's American Pie)
In classical music my heart is on the French impressionists, Debussy is my favorite.
I always recognize Beethoven music even if I listen a piece for the first time and of course every western musician bow's before Bach.
I also enjoy to listen to old jazz songs , I love Carlos Jobim and music for the cinema.
My favorite composer is Ennio Morricone, but also Bernard Herman, Manos Hatzidakis & Mikis Theodorakis.

Myriad: More precisely, what are you currently listening to ?

Now I am listening to a CD called the CELTIC CIRCLE, excellent.

Myriad: And what kind of music don't you listen to anymore ?

The so called commercial, I call it plastic, music.

Myriad: If you had to chose a piece to be put into a capsule to be sent to the inhabitants of Alpha Centauri, what would be your choice ?

A simple clarinet tune of the region of Hypiros Greece played by a very wise man called Petroloukas Chalkias.
Or The voice of Nikos Xilouris singing some verses of the Cretan epic poem called ''Erotokritos."
Or Beethoven's ninth symphony.
All three and let the little green people choose what they like.

Myriad: If you had to be out of the world during a whole year, what are the two albums you would take away with you ?

I would take Manos Hatzidakis ''Smile of Joconda" and a Segovia record, ...anyone would do.

Myriad: About the piece which won the contest, what has been the source of your inspiration ?

Peter Bernreuther a very good German Guitarist came to our shop as a customer. His wife was
wearing guitar shape earrings and thats how we started to talk about music.
He heard my tango for solo guitar and he wanted me to send it to him in Germany to play it.
Unfortunately he had to leave the same day and I wanted to make a few changes.
Anyway a couple days later he send me his CD called ''Recuerdos De Espana'' with beautiful works of Sarasate, De Fallia and Granados arranged for violin and guitar.
So I decided to thank him by writing a piece for him and his friend Michael Swartz the violinist.
Also I wanted it to be in the same mood with their CD and a tango because he told me that he liked tango's.

Myriad : What have been the progress of your composition (technical details will be of interest for the readers) ?

''Memories of A Tango'' is a two style composition, one the one hand you have a cool, slightly jazz, romantic feeling and on the other a very old fashion tango melody that could easily have been written in Argentina in the beginning of the 20th century.
Its my fair well to an era I never tasted but somehow long for it.
Also I wanted to be very easy for them to play.
Two friends having a written score before them, for the first time and discover it immediately playing prima-vista. that was my goal and I am sure that's what happened.
They liked it very much and probably they will record it.

Myriad: Do you have an anecdote to recount ? Not necessarily related to your piece, but related to music in general.

Yes. I 've got an old one.

What is a string Quartet?
A Soviet Union full symphonic orchestra after a tour in the West.!!!!!!!!!

Myriad : What are your goals or your project in relation with music ?

I would like to play guitar again and I practice every day, I also would like to publish CD's and books with my songs and my guitar music. ( I am working on that).
And... learn the harp.

Myriad : Do you have a personal Web site ?

Yes it is http://www.mv-jewel.net
It is about our jewelery but you can find my music there in the link: Vangelis music on the front page or directly (http://www.mv-jewel.net/mymusicweb/web2.htm)

Myriad : Do you want to pass an advice or a message to the readers of
this interview ?

Never give up..
This I say because of my little, personal, sad, guitar story.
But anyway let' s all always study and try to become better, in that way we will remain students all of our our life and we 'll never grow old.

Myriad : Thank you for having answered these questions.

Thank you for your competition idea, many thanks to the jury and let me finish with the words of a friend I once knew.
-Do you play music ? I asked.
-No, but I love the souls of the ones that they do.


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