Pantelis Thalassinos

Pantelis Thalassinos, whose second name means seaman, from the word thalassa=sea, is a famous composer of Greek music.

«Is he really “a man of the sea”, someone who can’t live far from the sea?», we asked him in the interview we took from him. And although he denied it, facts speak for themselves. Born in the Piraeus in 1958, mother from the island of Serifos and father from Chios, he lived between Chios and the Piraeus until 1976. At the age of 18, he’ll become a sailor and travel around the world for one year and then… Well, a whole life by the sea and now at last with a house of his own and a small boat in Paros. «I’ve been coming here for the last 27 years. Paros fulfils all my expectations, my dream for a place to live. And it’s not a city, it is as if you were on holidays».

«As if…», so he’s not on holidays. What’s he up too? He is preparing a festival in Aliki. A festival dedicated to the traditional musician Giorgos Konitopoulos, who died 20 years ago in Aliki in Paros, where he chose to live. Native of Naxos, the Konitopoulos family is quite famous in the area of traditional island music. During the 3-day festival, on June 17,18 & 19, groups from Paros, Crete and Serifos are invited and of course Pantelis Thalassinos will be there, the soul of the whole event. «We want to keep Aliki traditional, we want it to stay just as it is: nice and traditional».

Thalassinos claims to stand «in awe, in fear», when he has to play traditional songs, that he «might not play them right». Pantelis of course, writes his own songs, songs that often echo his deep love for traditional music. One of his favourites «Ta Smirneika tragoudia» passes for such a song, something he retains as a very high honour.

Thalassinos, made his first album in 1996. It included a hit, a sweet, joyful song that soon became extremely popular . His favorite album? «Astranammata» with a photo of Faidra on the cover, his daughter. Big number of his songs has been translated in many languages.

We asked him how he felt in today’s reality in Greece, a country in debt, a scapegoat. Does he feel betrayed? Does he feel an urge to escape? «No,» he says «I will stay here and fight».

Summer 2011