At Anchor. BEFORE SAILING OFF
Mediterranean periplus – voyages in time and space, around and beyond the sea of civilizations: we follow the movements of peoples, goods, ideas and cultural patterns in our historical space, underlying that exchange has been a determining factor in the development of civilizations; these cultures, therefore, constitute a common heritage of the Mediterranean peoples. (Description of the program in the media)
THE RADIO PROGRAM MEDITERRANEAN PERIPLUS originated from a homonymous year-long series of articles in the newspaper Thessaloniki (1994-1995), before the rather painful (as it turned out) experience of Thessaloniki, European Capital of Culture, in 1997. Its objective was to highlight the need for a Mediterranean Conservatoire in Thessaloniki, in parallel with the immediate, realistic goal of organizing a Mediterranean Festival, focusing on music, but also encompassing other artistic and literary events, the Halcyon Days – both in connection with that supposed “feast of culture” in the town.
Finally, no target was reached… No need to say this voyage was anything but cloudless. Apart from the demand itself, allegedly “untimely”, and the various obstacles on the way, I felt uncomfortable as I was obliged to write about – i.e. to describe – Mediterranean civilizations, mainly music cultures, and their mutual exchange and interaction, without having the possibility to refer to actual sound recordings in order to prove my case.
When, at last, in 1998, the boat of the Mediterranean Periplus was launched on the airwaves of the Cultural Radio (9.58 fm) of the Hellenic Radio-Television (ERT) in Thessaloniki, I was delighted: The much-troubled Cultural Capital was already a thing of the past and, moreover, I was able to submit to public judgment the music that fascinated me for so long, even though I had never thought it would attract a wider audience. So good, I was wrong!
A REMODELING of all those Chronicles in writing is something completely different from the actual radio program, because discussing music, on the one hand, is almost always less impressive than listening to music: the description of a miracle, even the most eloquent, bears no comparison to the miracle itself…
Yet on the other hand, writing is irreplaceable as a quite different but absolutely necessary form of expression and communication, conveying information and conclusions, where it is overwhelmingly superior to sound. Indeed, how much more essential would it seem if this radio “talk on air” were written down, since, after all, scripta manent (if they deserve it), having previously undergone the test of criticism – when it may eventually become obvious it’s been something more than just… “talk in the air”?
After more than a dozen years of voyages in time and space, around and beyond the sea of civilizations (1998–2010), let me present a selection of texts, revised according to the needs of reading, not listening – an introduction, if you will, to the Mediterranean periplus, which, I hope, will be interesting enough to both our initiated fellow voyagers and all those who will confidently go out to sea with us thanks to these texts.
● I started writing this book circa 1999, based on the notes that I kept for each show, at the request of the then radio director of 9.58 fm, Vana Charalambidou, since the Mediterranean periplus was (quite paradoxically, indeed!)* one of the programs with the highest ratings! However, I did not have the pleasure to see my book published, after I was asked to… censor myself! I refused, of course, but I continued expanding it, as the program went on for several more years. Anyway, every cloud has a silver lining: the book, I believe, is now far more comprehensive.
* The paradox was exactly this: in the Mediterranean periplus, I presented music from my personal archive that was anything but mainstream; this obliged me to provide any available information to the listeners, so they could appreciate that “unfamiliar” music. This combination may have been the secret that made this radio program so successful. At any rate, the way the Mediterranean periplus was so warmly embraced by the audience was unprecedented; it was a veritable miracle, which proved wrong all this nonsense, by musicians or producers alike, not to mention many radio station managers, summed up in the phrase: “this is what the people want”…