Ancient musical instruments get an airing in Athens

A musician tunes her lyre before a concert with reconstructed ancient instruments at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. (Reuters)
Updated 21 June 2018
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Ancient musical instruments get an airing in Athens

  • The phorminx, the kitharis, the krotala and the aulos — string and wind instruments reconstructed by musical group Lyravlos — echoed among marble statues in Athens’s National Archaeological Museum.
  • Music was an integral part of almost every aspect of ancient Greek society, from religious, to social to athletic events.

ATHENS: Hymns sung to the Greek gods thousands of years ago resonated from ancient musical instruments in Athens on Thursday, transporting a transfixed audience to antiquity.
The phorminx, the kitharis, the krotala and the aulos — string and wind instruments reconstructed by musical group Lyravlos — echoed among marble statues in Athens’s National Archaeological Museum as part of World Music Day celebrations.
A family of musicians, Lyravlos have recreated exact replicas of the ancient instruments from natural materials including animal shells, bones, hides and horns.
Music was an integral part of almost every aspect of ancient Greek society, from religious, to social to athletic events. Today only some 60 written scores of ancient Greek music have survived, said Lyravlos member Michael Stefos.
Stefos said they interpret them as best they can, relying on the accuracy of their recreated instruments.
“Joking aside, ancient CDs have never been found,” he said.
Their performance included a hymn to the god Apollo, pieces played at the musical festival of the ancient Pythian Games in Delphi and during wine-laden rituals to the god Dionysus.
Michael’s father Panayiotis Stefos, who heads the group, travels to museums at home and abroad studying ancient Greek antiquities and texts in order to recreate the instruments.
“Usually each instrument has a different sound. It is not something you can make on a computer, it will not be a carbon copy,” said Stefos.
The difference with modern day instruments?
“If someone holds it in their arms and starts playing, after a few minutes they don’t want to let it go, because it vibrates and pulsates with your body,” he said.
French tourist Helene Piaget, who watched the performance, said it was “inspiring.”
“One sees them on statues, on reliefs, and you can’t imagine what they might sound like,” she said.
World Music Day is an annual celebration that takes place on the summer solstice.


British rockers Wolf Alice upset odds to win Mercury Prize

Rockers Wolf Alice picked up the £25,000 prize. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2018
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British rockers Wolf Alice upset odds to win Mercury Prize

  • Wolf Alice's critically-acclaimed album charted at number two in Britain on its release in September

LONDON: Rockers Wolf Alice defied the odds to win Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize on Thursday for their second album “Visions of a Life,” beating off competition from heavyweights Arctic Monkeys and Noel Gallagher.
“This means so much,” said emotional frontwoman Ellie Rowsell as she picked up the £25,000 ($33,000, 28,000 euros) prize, which is presented annually for the best album released by a British or Irish artist, according to a panel of judges.
The north London four-piece, who released their debut album in 2015, join past winners including Primal Scream, Franz Ferdinand, PJ Harvey, The xx and grime star Skepta.
The band, whose critically-acclaimed album charted at number two in Britain on its release in September, closed out the show with a celebratory performance of album track “Don’t Delete the Kisses.”