Dr. Spyros Koliavasilis is a gifted vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, playing and teaching oud, bouzouki, saz, kemane, laouto and lavta as well as canto. He plays over 18 instruments, some learned in his native Greece and some when a medical student in Romania. Music is his true passion (although he always says medicine and music have gone together since ancient times).
In addition to his formal studies in Greece, Spyros studied voice and oud with the great masters Nikos and Yiasemi Saragoudas. He founded the band Ανατολιτικα Χρωματα (Anatolitika Chromata "Eastern Colors") which played concerts in Greece and around the world. He is honored to have performed with and learned from Saragoudas and great artists like Halil Karaduman, the great Turkish kanun master; Domna Samiou, the singer and folklorist who probably did most to preserve Greek traditional music for our generation; and Chronis Aidonidis, the most renowned and respected singer of Greek Thracian repertoire in our era. Spyros is proudly dedicated to carry on the traditions of Nikos Saragoudas and is the only student on whom the master saw fit to bestow an academic certificate, attesting to his outstanding qualifications and dedication to carry on these traditions.
Spyros’s research focuses on the music, composers and singers of the past. His area of special scholarship has been the Asia Minor region called "Mikrasia," but his interests and expertise are panhellenic. He loves everything original and is passionate about keeping traditions alive for the coming generations. An M.D., Spyros also has been awarded an honorary degree from the University of Tulsa for his musical scholarship. He hopes his next research project, inspired by his studies with the esteemed Greek clarinetist Giorgios Kotsinis, will focus on the clarinet traditions in and around Mesogeia in Attica, near his birthplace in Markopoulo, a tradition in which his uncle, Christos Koliavasilis performed and recorded.
Spyros also composes music. His CD, "Mediterranean Thoughts," contains his compositions as well as original arrangements and improvisations on traditional music.
Dr. Koliavasilis teaches in the Metropolitan DC area. His studio is a place of local interest, not only because of his lessons and many workshops, year round, but also because he restores and exhibits old instruments of great beauty, value and variety.
Margaret Loomis first heard the magical sound of Greek santouri in 1983 at a Balkan music and dance workshop in upstate New York. She began teaching herself to play from Greek recordings, with annual lessons from master player and instrument maker John Roussos. Margaret also enjoys occasional forays into Romanian music, inspired by the wonderful late Romanian fiddler, George Caba, and plays bunkula with the Resia Valley Girls.
Len Newman has loved Balkan traditional music and dance since his student days. He also performs with other ensembles, most notably Lyuti Chushki, playing the Bulgarian stringed instrument, tambura.