The language of music is such that, with a gifted group of musicians, you don’t even need to understand the language to be swept up in the emotion and carried far away. Such is the case with the Pharos Ensemble featuring Vasilis Kostas. Their name taken from the Greek word for “lighthouse,” Pharos Ensemble illuminates the richness and beauty of their heritage, performing highly authentic Greek traditional music. The ensemble comprises five acclaimed musicians and educators who take extensive research and training and bring this proud tradition to the public in stunning musical form.
In addition to sharing their love of Greek music, Pharos Ensemble wishes to educate and inspire young people about the values of this musical tradition, in the hope that it continues into future generations. Drawing from a wealth of history, the ensemble is inspired by the music of the Greek refugees of Anatolia. It is a heartfelt and deeply emotional music that speaks strongly of traditional Greek culture.
Vasilis Kostas, on laouto (lute), was raised in northwest Greece. From an early age, he listened to his grandfather sing every night. The gentleman became his mentor, and Kostas learned to play guitar so he could accompany him. It was through this that he developed his love of the music, which focuses on a strong melody, slow rhythm and melancholy lyrics. He performed at local celebrations and came to the U.S. to study on scholarship at Berklee College of Music.
It was during a fateful trip to Spain, where Kostas was sent to present Greek traditional music, that he discovered his true calling. While there, he met flamenco master JosÃ© MercÃ©, who encouraged him to give up the guitar and return to the laouto. In Athens, Kostas studied with Laouto master Christos Zotos, who transformed the laouto from an instrument that accompanied violin and clarinet into a lead instrument that adapted the clarinet’s melody lines and made them its own.
Now based in Boston, Kostas is well respected in Greece and among Greeks in this country for his laouto playing. He is joined by Panos Aivazidis on qanun, George Lernis on percussion and Eirini Tornesaki on vocals, performing beautifully as Pharos Ensemble.