It was June 2015, when I received a call from Fragoulis Karagianopoulos, a good friend and former instructor during my classical guitar studies. The call was about a youth orchestra looking for a mandolin player and without much talk, I immediately answered yes, I would help them.
I am really fond of youth orchestras as I also started playing mandolin in a youth orchestra when I was just 7 years old and never really stopped (although at some point we all became adults).
This call was a beginning of a great journey, where I came to meet Costas Iliadis, an inspired Greek musician and teacher who has dedicated a lot of effort and time to create an amazing Orchestra; the Underground Youth Orchestra. This symphonic orchestra consists of 25 music students that play a great variety of music and are performing very frequently in Greece (more about this orchestra at the end of this article).
After our introduction, I was asked to participate in a rehearsal for a recording of an arrangement of a well known piece of music, Cole Porter’s – I Love Paris (with a twist).
All this sounded lovely, so here I was a Sunday morning, descending to the basement (hence the underground in the orchestra’s name) of Costas Iliadis house which had long been re-arranged to a music rehearsal room for the orchestra. There I met the members of the orchestra, a group of nice young kids with a passion for music.
I also found out that also helping out with the orchestra were some professional musicians, one of which was David Lynch, a famous Jazz performer that had made the arrangement for the song to be recorded.
I was already a fan of David Lynch, admiring his performances and his overall style. He is a prominent figure in Greece’s music scene and we are all very lucky to have him here in Greece.
And of course there was also Elly Paspala. Elli is well known in Greece for her musical career and achievements that include cooperation with Manos Hadjidakis, concerts at the prestigious Athens Concert Hall and many many others (the list is very big, check the paragraph at the end of the article for more info).
I was already a fan, so I was very pleased to know that Elly was going to sing during the recording.
The rehearsal went great. The members of the orchestra were all lovely, and Costas Iliadis, the conductor was excellent, smiling and patient – something required with a youth orchestra.
Hearing Elli sing was lovely but also I was very happy to learn that this activity was not just another recording. It was part of a plan to promote Athens (and Greece) in the middle of this financial crisis that has traumatized this small but great country. I truly believe that music must serve a purpose – the purpose can be a humble or great, but still; anyway, this is the subject of another article…
Back to the rehearsal, the mandolin I used was a large body 8-string mandolin from Richard Morgan, the Tasmanian luthier, and thus it got a lot of attention. Everybody liked it and I heard great comments for its tone, clarity of sound and of course looks!
Next step, the studio.