Japanese Musician Tookaya to Perform at Melbourne’s Rebetiko Festival

Atsushi Tookaya playing the bouzouki. Photo from YouTube

Atsushi Tookaya, the Japanese national with a passion for Greek rebetiko music, will perform at Melbourne’s Rebetiko Festival on March 23.

Rebetiko, also widely known as the “Greek Blues,” is the urban, improvisational music which marvelously blends elements from Byzantine, Ottoman, Greek, Sephardic, Jazz, and other forms of regional and global music.

Rebetiko, both in its musical and its cultural dimension, is linked to the songs and dances which spread among the Greek urban working-class populations of Smyrna (today’s city of Izmir in Turkey) and Constantinople (today’s Istanbul). The rebetiko sound began to take its unique form around the late 19th and early 20th century.

After the great fire of Smyrna and the Catastrophe of Hellenism of Anatolia, rebetiko music found its new home in the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, where the Greek refugees had put down new roots.

In its unique way of musical expression, rebetiko pays homage to the history of these great peoples, while it also reflects a more contemporary, modern Greece, with new and diverse musical influences.

These were the elements which amazed the Japanese musician Tookaya, who, along with an array of other artists, will perform on March 23 during the Rebetiko Festival.  The event  is organized and supported by The Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture, the Greek Festival of Sydney, the Victorian Multicultural Commission and other groups.

In addition to Tookaya, the audience will have the chance to enjoy the performances of Rebetien, the members from the ”Melbourne Rebetiko Ensemble” with Aggie Gioftsidis,
George Doukas and the D String.

The groups ”Mandolins of Smyrne,” ”Rebetiko Trio,” ”Alphington Grammar Band” and the Melbourne Bouzouki Orchestra with Dean Georgalas will also perform at the Festival.

The performances will begin at 3 PM local time on Saturday, March 23 at the Melbourne Recital Centre in Southbank, Victoria.