Festival time

posted in: Life in Lesvos | 1

This evening, a small group of us volunteers trudged up the hill to the Castle to attend a music concert, arranged by Connect By Music, an NGO which provides music education for refugee children on Lesvos.  It was impressively organised, with a large stage, sound and lighting equipment, and (to my relief) a seated auditorium, all within the outer grounds of the castle.

There was a huge number of young people involved, mostly guitarists, strumming and gently picking, about fifty at a time, though it was a pity that they were effectively drowned out by the adult leaders, all amplified – a couple of violins, a clarinet, a guitar. Notably, the quality of the guitar-playing improved as the evening progressed; sensible programming.    Other acts were interspersed: a children’s choir, a flamenco dancer and singer, one or two vocalists coming forward from the other musicians.  The highlight of the evening was a group of drummers and an Afghan man playing a traditional instrument – something like a long-necked lute – which really got the crowd jumping.  A gang of Afghan young men, including the male half of my cast, had a sort of mosh pit in front of the stage, and they clearly enjoyed themselves hugely.

Afterwards, Jaime and a Dutch/Singapore volunteer called Sin joined me in a pizza and some pleasant conversation, before I made my way home. But en route I encountered the Lesvos Ouzo festival in a park near the theatre on the waterfront.  I was attracted by the lights and live music, but quickly discovered that the purchase of a two euro glass entitled one to as much ouzo as you wanted, from about a dozen stalls, all operated by different distilleries. My amazement was why everyone was not completely legless, and said as much to a group of three guys who were sitting down at my table, just as they promptly fell of their chairs.  They were pleasant, if inebriated, company, and pointed out the best ouzos (as ever with such things, they all tasted the same to me.)  We also shared a couple of rounds of shots of pomegranate liqueur.

Lesvos Ouzo festival

I then fell into conversation with a couple of ladies next to me; appropriately enough, they were lesbians (though not Lesbians – they came from Athens.)  We chatted about Brexit, Grexit, the state of the world.  I headed home as things began to pack up at about 1.30, drunk but not too drunk, at the end of a pleasant evening.

  1. Pamela Blair

    Amazing how important it is to hear music from one’s own culture. It’s wonderful what cbm is doing to help integrate the refugee children into Greek society, and how welcoming the Greeks are, but the kids so loved that Afghan music. You can lose your culture externally, but it stays with you internally.

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