Lefkada was under the Ottoman Rule for 200 years and always had close relations with the Greek mainland due to proximity, while the rest of the Ionian Islands were more isolated and thus their music and culture, in general, were mainly influenced by western civilisation.
This resulted to the music culture of Lefkada having versatile influences. One can observe a diversity concerning the music tunes and creations of the different parts of the island.
This diversity can be noticed when comparing the villages and the town of Lefkada, but also among the villages themselves depending on their geographical location. For example, in the south eastern part of the island, and the south in general, people seem to be mostly concerned in music and festivities. Most of the great musicians of Lefkada had their origins there and less came from the villages of the northwest. The main features of the town are the choirs and the “mandolinatas” (mandolin orchestras) while in the villages the mainland folk tradition is dominant.
You can listen to beautiful serenades by the “Agionavritiki Parea” orchestra and the choir of the Orfeas Club
The main events of the villages were the celebrative feasts on the name days of the patron saints, feasts that seem to have begun in the first quarter of the 19th century. Musical instruments were also necessary in weddings, as well as during the carnival and there was also carolling on religious holidays.
The feasts usually took place in the villages’ central cafés.
As mentioned earlier, the western culture was dominant in the town of Lefkada. In the field of music the town has the second oldest Philharmonic Band in Greece (after Corfu) which was founded in 1850 and participated in important events such as the celebration for the Union of the Seven Islands with Greece in 1864 and the first modern Olympic Games of Athens in 1896.
To celebrate the 150 years from its foundation, the Philharmonic Band of Lefkada held a concert at the PALLAS theater in Athens on the 16th of December 2000, under the guidance of maestro Gerassimos Messinis, with notable success.
You can listen to this concert here.
Nowadays, the music culture of the island is promoted by significant clubs that assemble big groups of young people and contribute to its preservation and continuity. Lots of events (music ones as well) take place during the summer (Philharmonic Societies’ Festival, Feasts of Literature and Art, International Folklore Festival) while music is an important part of events all through the year.
In 1966, Spyros Peristeris, chanter at the Athens’ Cathedral and assistant at the Folklore Department of the Academy of Athens, travelled all around Greece and gathered recordings of traditional tunes, songs and dances. In Karya of Lefkada, from the 3rd to the 17th of July 1966 he recorded Lefkadian songs performed by local musicians. Peristeris himself noted: “In Karya of Lefkada the music of ten folk dances was recorded by us while they were performed by a local dance club, conducted by musician G. Thanos. This music was performed by four local musicians”.
Those musicians were Nikos Vryonis (clarinet), Giorgos Verykios (violin), Stavros Katopodis, aka Mastrostavros (lute), Nikos Katopodis, son of Mastrostavros (accordion) and the singer was Xenophontas Vrettos.
The copyrights of the recordings and the musical works belong exclusively to the people that created and edited this research. Here we are merely reproducing these works.