Difono Greek Magazine, July-August 2008 issue.

Questioner: Liana Malandrenioti

Interviewee: Dimitris Kotronakis


(Translated by 3d-code.gr, Original language: Greek)


-Your relationship with the musical instrument started from early childhood. Do you come from a family of musicians?


I did not grow up in a family of musicians, even though my mother used to play the accordion. However, it is my parents I should thank for the initiative to get me involved with music, as well as for their constant support and understanding throughout my entire strenuous course as a guitar student.


-From your early steps, until the end of your studies with the awarding of the guitar diploma, you were blessed with very good teachers. Who was the teacher who played a decisive role for your orientation?


Vasilis Kanaras was the teacher I happened to start and complete my studies with. I think that, to a significant degree, he shaped my artistic personality too. I owe him way too muchÖ Of course, during my studies there have been other influences as well, such as the one of the soloist Kostas Kotsiolis and of the guitar festival of Volos, in the bosom of which I evolved as a guitarist, as well as the influence of my music theory teacher, Giorgos Sioras.


-What is a musician with your qualifications faced with, the moment he decides to enter the professional arena?


There are generally many difficulties, while in Greece things are even more difficultÖ The interest in classical music is limited and it is even more limited when it comes to classical guitar. There are no important managers or producers to promote new artists. Each one must do with what he has. Hard work helps a lot; however, it is mostly acquaintances, public relations and some times luck, which help one, build a career.

There is a general crisis, too. There are now many artists who enter the same professional arena. The standards are quite higher than they used to be two or three decades ago.


-We talked about the difficulties of the job, what about the consolidation of a guitar diploma in Greece, even if it is a diploma that has been unanimously awarded with grade ďexcellentĒ?


It is not consolidated at all. To the State, it is an unclassified Degree; it does not have the glamour of University degrees and is not considered equivalent to Higher or Superior Studiesí degrees. The guitar diploma awarded graduates of conservatories can neither continue their studies in other faculties, in Greece or abroad, nor take the state examinations for musical teachersí recruitment in schools, with the same standard qualifications the holders of University titles doÖ The demand for the foundation of a musical Academy that will award titles equivalent to those of other University departments is being expressed for years now. However, the State takes no actions towards this direction.


-Your doctorate thesis in Musicology is about Greek guitar Composers of the 20th century. Would you like to talk to us about this?


The whole idea started as an effort to discover and study the history of guitar in Greece, not in terms of guitarists, but in terms of guitar compositions. Up to now, it has produced considerable results. There is a large number of compositions, most of which are unknown to the average guitarist, that, however, deserve our attention, either from a historical, or from an artistic point of view. An important achievement was also the first, I believe, detailed and thorough study of the personal archive of Kyriakos Tzortzinakis, 20 years after the composerís death. We are talking about archives of significant volume and importance, especially if we take into account that Tzortzinakis composed most of his works during the 80s and while he was under the age of 40! I am convinced that his premature death deprived the guitaristsí world of a big composer.


-In your exceptionally selected repertory of guitar compositions, I also noticed the participation of the Bosnian composer Vojislav Ivanovic.


Ivanovic, holder of a Greek citizenship for many years now, is a particularly important composer, and not only because of his guitar compositions. He deserves to achieve recognition and to make his name in Greece too, because he is already very popular abroad, mainly in the countries of former Yugoslavia.


-Your last album was released from CLEAR NOTE, a foreign record company. How did that happen?


It happened simply because in Greece there is almost no one interested in financing record productions for music with limited audience. I had already decided on the albumís repertory when I found a record company. Moreover, the recordings were all performed on Greek soil, most of them at the recording studio of the Music Acoustic Technology laboratory of the University of Athens. After that, I wrote the texts for the accompanying booklet, thus exploiting my musicologistís quality as well, while I also made the graphics for the jewel case and the booklet. Then, I began to look for a music production company. In the USA, there were three record companies that expressed an interest for my album and I finally selected the one that offered me the best - to my opinion - contract! The important thing is that Clear Note is a developing record company, with a clearly guitar-centered orientation. Therefore, I had the feeling that they would promote the product a lot better than a company interested in classical music in general and, of course, in a much bigger market than the Greek one.


-On stage, you are almost always alone. What is the difference between listening to a soloist artist and listening to a small chamber music group, or an orchestra?


The role played by a soloist recalls in memory an equilibrist, a tight-rope walker; the point is that a soloist's performance on scene also incorporates some sense of risk. A soloist has to risk, so to speak; he has to execute a piece, which may be pushing the limits of his sentimental and technical capacities. His role is different from the role played by an orchestra or by a chamber music ensemble. A group seldom risks. It simply executes predefined movements, just aiming at exactitude; in this very case, the maximum possible synchronization is the bet. But a soloist is something else. He executes pieces having great technical demands and almost presupposing intense rushes. This is exactly the magic of a solo performance, risk and challenge. Whenever I didn't risk, my conduct towards the public was, I consider, not fair.