Plastikes Karekles return to the Festival of Chichester as part of this year’s Amici Concerts series.
They will be performing on Sunday, July 15 at 6pm at Halnaker Park Cottage at the far end of Park Lane, Halnaker, PO18 0QH when they are offering an eclectic collaboration of international and Greek musicians performing their own arrangements of Rebetiko through to contemporary Greek folk music.
Pavlos Carvalho is promising soulful singing, circle dances and foot-stamping rhythms – all from a group with an accidental name which they never intended to keep and yet which seems more and more appropriate.
“The group started through outreach work we do. I used to do outreach work with my classical group, and Greek music is all about rhythm and dance. We thought it would be wonderful for doing outreach work. It is so much about body movement and beautiful song and interacting with people. You play the first chord, and someone will get up and start dancing… and obviously you don’t get that with classical music!”
The members started to play – and realised that they didn’t have a name. Someone suggested Plastikes Karekles, Greek for plastic chairs, acknowledgement of a Greek festival which started out with wooden chairs but became so popular they ended up having to offer cheaper chairs, plastic ones.
As Pavlos says, Plastikes Karekles therefore seemed to suggest inclusivity, which is precisely what they wanted.
“But actually we have now incorporated all sorts of other meanings. We were doing education work, and one child said that the great thing about plastic is that when you melt it, you can mould it into all sorts of different shapes.”
And again, that felt remarkably appropriate for the group. It prides itself on its flexibility, different numbers, different sizes, different players, whatever feels right for the particular occasion.
“That was about 15 years ago, and since then there has been such an incredible explosion in Greek music on the London scene.”
Composers such as Tsitsanis, Hiotis and Mitsakis may have been fathers of Rebetiko, but they absorbed the sounds of American jazz, French manouche, latin dances which they would have heard on journeys and over the radio, eventually making this new language an integral part of their sound and began taking Greek music in new and exciting directions. Plastikes Karekles reinterpret these classic songs from 40s and 50s Greece.
Parking available. Bring low chairs for picnics. Tickets £17 (£18.50 on the door); under 25 years £10; under ten years free at the gate if dry weather.