Vassiliki Papageorgiou - Beyond the Bosphorus
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Vassiliki Papageorgiou - Beyond the Bosphorus


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"Bosphorus & Mode Plagal Beyond the Bosphorus Hitch-Hyke ("

'It was bound to happen, someday.'
That was the first thing that crossed my mind when I came across the news that Bosphorus and Mode Plagal were to collaborate on a record.

Bosphorus, a group of Turkish musicians from Istanbul who for almost twenty years now have been studying the musical tradition of that city through its many periods have been churning out amazing records off the mainstream. They have been exploring, among other things, the musical tradition of Greek composers of the city, as well as the interplay between what existed in the city (the Byzantine tradition of the time when the city used to be called Contantinople) and what came after (the Ottoman musical tradition both on the level of court music and popular one.)

Mode Plagal have already been covered extensively in Rootsworld, as they have been following a similar path regarding Greek music, but with an added focus on jazz experimentation.

So, in many ways, both groups have been dealing with the same questions: What does it mean to be at the crossroads between East and West, Now and Then? What have been the results of the influences of other people on the musical tradition of the region? Are there traces of the past to be found and are there any of those worthy of retention for the future? All that and beautiful sounds!

The latter is where Beyond the Bosphorus succeeds effortlessly: this is a compelling, seductive record that doesn't sound academic at all, while it combines music from three different musical traditions; the learned Eastern musical system (the ancient one), the folk tradition of the Alevi communities, and the western-influenced one, as is noted in the beautiful and very informative trilingual liner notes (Greek, English and French.) There were times that this record sounded pop. At others, it reminded me strongly of Morphine (the band from Boston) or an ethnomusicologist's pet research project. On "Oceania," the last song, the U2 of the late 1980s comes to mind. All that and it never sounds forced, grotesque or garish.

As in the previous collaborative work of Mode Plagal (the Yorgos Margaritis CD recently reviewed), this record sounds like Bosphorus, possessed by Mode Plagal. The way in which they go in and out of the picture, blending in or coming to the forefront, depending on the musical needs or whim of the moment, is fascinating.

Apart from the usual high musicianship of Mode Plagal (who use saxophones, electric and acoustic guitars, drums and bass) and the exquisite learned virtuosity of Bosphorus (who play kemenche, rebab, violin, ney, cello, kudum, bendir, kaval, saz, kanun and tanbur), Vassiliki Papageorgiou, who sings on almost all the tracks, should be singled out for particular praise, as her laid back, spacey yet curiously earthy voice is often the highlight of a song. Providing a stylistic unity to the record which otherwise would have been torn apart by its various musical influences, Papageorgiou inhabits the role of the narrator of this fascinating musical journey, as she sings about love in the city, important Islamic religious feasts, Sappho and most of all about the city: Konstantiniye/Istanbul. - Nondas Kitsos
- RootsWorld

"Bosphorus and Mode Plagal Tou Vosporou to Pera / Beyond the Bosphorus (Hitch Hyke)"

Greek jazz ensemble Mode Plagal collaborate with Bosphorus, a group with Turkish musicians and traditional instruments who bring forth the sound and experience of the Eastern and Anatolian musical tradition. The symbolism of the Bosphorus straits as a passage from one world to the another, from one sea to the other and from one continent to a new world. This one is on my list of "absolutely essential CDs." No equivocation!
Beyond The Bosphorus is a collaboration between Greek band Mode Plagal and the most recent incarnation of the Turkish group Bosphorus, which now includes such leading performers of Turkish art music as Hasan Esen (kemençe) and Murat Aydemir (tanbur). On vocals is Vasiliki Papayeoryiou, who has worked with Bosphorus in the past. In short, this is an impressive line-up. The Þrst song is Konstantiniye, placing Istanbul/ Constantinople at the heart of the album's subject matter. There is a lot happening on this recording, and the disparate elements - music in the makam tradition, Turkish folk ballads, ballads in Western tempered scales, funk-rock, etc. - are not always reconciled, with the two bands contributing their own styles in varying measure to create a kind of fusion on some tracks, but on others going their own way. Both Lullaby, an Esen composition, and This Night by Takis Kanellos, are pretty representative of Bosphorus & Mode Plagal's customary manners respectively. However, the resulting diversity of texture overall on the album is satisfying and appropriate - this is a highly eclectic project that points in many directions at once, aiming to evoke the complexity of one of the most intriguing and untamed cities in the world.
The lyrics to these songs are especially interesting as they reflect a much wider range of content and style than would normally be found on a CD, including Bektashi folk poetry in Turkish, original and knowing poems by Papayeoryiou and one poem by Greek poet George Seferis, to whom Papayeoryiou also alludes in her own lyrics. Seferis was born just outside Smyrni /Izmir and all his life expressed his sorrow at the war that resulted in the displacement of the Christian and Muslim populations of Greece and Turkey his is a Þtting presence on this recording. - Chris Williams
- fRoots


Vassiliki Papageorgiou - Hasan Esen
"Last Boat from Halki”
(MBI Musurgia GRAECA – MMB 10679)

Vassiliki Papageorgiou – Hasan Esen
“Heybeli'den Son Vapur”
(ADA Müzik -Istanbul)

Vassiliki Papageorgiou
“DURGA - The Silk Road”
(MBI Musurgia GREACA – MMB 10730)

(ANKH Productions World Files WS010 –2)

Song: Vassiliki Papageorgiou
“Beyond the Bosphorus”
(CD –Hitch-Hyke Records – . Lift 089)

“Vradinos tis Polis Ouranos” (“Night sky of the City”)
“Vassiliki Gündogarken Söylüyor”
(ADA Müzik -Istanbul)

“Christos Hatzopoulos - Thrakis Foni”
With the participation of:
Vassiliki Papageorgiou & Pandelis Thalassinos
(MBI 2006)

Hristos Hatzopoulos - Trakya’min Cansarkisi
(ADA MÜZIK 2007)

(LYRA 2010)



Born in Athens, Greece, Vassiliki Papageorgiou studied the oral folksinging tradition of Greece by accompanying Vangelis Soukas’s clarinet in “panigyria” (traditional musical festivities) throughout the countryside. In 1993 she arrived in Istanbul as a rebetiko singer. She has been living there ever since, working as a singer and lyricist with the ensemble “Bosphorus”, and other Greek and Turkish composers and groups. She also writes and translates poetry.
"Beyond the Bosphorus" is the result of the successful fusion of “Bosphorus” with the Greek group “Mode Plagal” experimenting with new sounds and patterns of a Greek-Turkish music based on the tradition of both countries.