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Meetings with a View: Thodoris Kontaras



Philologist Thodoris Kontaras and journalist Margarita Pournara in conversation, as part of the series “Asia Minor, the Baton of Memory”


The third guest in the Hellenic American Union’s new series of events titled "Meetings with a View" is philologist Thodoris Kontaras, a true native of Asia Minor from Sivrisari, who has been working for the last 40 years to preserve fragments of Greek folk music, dance and storytelling in the region. A charismatic narrator, he will try during his conversation with journalist Margarita Pournara   to transport us in place and time to a world that no longer exists but continues to live within us.

Thodoris Kontaras, guided by his insatiable curiosity, has explored many Asia Minor and Thracian homelands through his travels and field research. He began from the neighborhood he grew up in, Nea Erithraia, where he created a dance club to preserve the music and heritage of Asia Minor. During the period 1991-1994, he edited three records of the Lyceum of Greek Women in Athens with dances and songs from Alatsata, Eritrea and Smyrna, as well as a CD entitled Songs from the Palaces of Marmara of Asia Minor. In these four records, first and second-generation refugees from New Erithraia and the New Palaces area in Oropos sing and play music in an authentic way. He also studied and recorded the traditional costumes of the Greeks of Marmara, Eritrea, and the villages of Smyrna.

For older generations, Asia Minor was a lived experience, it was songs and flavors, places, habits, dialects, traditions and superstitions. And it was the richness of living with other peoples. For our generation it is the memory we hold in our hands, like a baton, that we pass on to younger generations. What do we keep from it? What do we leave behind? How does history reach us?

Six distinguished guests, each with a distinct point of view, discuss with journalist Margarita Pournara the continuation of Asia Minor. This special series of events has been organized by the Hellenic American Union from March to May 2022 on the 100th year anniversary of the disaster. The meetings take place on the glass-enclosed roof garden of the Hellenic American Union overlooking Athens with a limited audience due to the pandemic.

All meetings of the cycle will be broadcasted live at the Hellenic American Union’s YouTube channel and available for streaming at the Hellenic American Union’s webpage.

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