Greek bouzouki virtuoso Michael Paouris won first prize at the Classical Music Competition held last Sunday in Vienna.
Paouris won the international event at the iconic at the Mozarthaus with his composition “Virtuosonata No. 1” which he created just 12 days before his award exclusively for the competition. He was accompanied on stage by his close collaborator, Nikolas Spatoulas on guitar.
The Mozarthaus was Mozart’s residence from 1784 to 1787. It is believed that Sunday was the first time that the bouzouki, the musical instrument interwoven with Greek culture and history, was heard in this historical place.
The 34-year-old Greek musician, born in Athens, began learning the bouzouki when he was 8. He now performs with the Michael Paouris’ band in music and concert halls all over the world.
One of the most important moments in his career was in 2018 when he received the 1st International Award in Classical Music at the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York City from the Classical Golden Awards.
He also received the 1st Prize International Award again from the London Grand Prize Virtuoso in 2019. Michael Paouris won the 1st Prize International award in Classical Music for the 2020 and the concert – award ceremony is on April 2021 at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
A taste of Paouris concert in Vienna follows:
Bouzouki: the national music instrument of Greece
Bouzouki was brought to Greece in the early 1900s by Greek immigrants from Anatolia, and quickly became the central instrument to the rebetiko genre and its music branches. It is now an important element of modern Laiko pop Greek music.
The Greek bouzouki is a plucked musical instrument of the lute family, called the thabouras or tambouras family. The tambouras existed in ancient Greece as the pandura, and can be found in various sizes, shapes, depths of body, lengths of neck and number of strings. The bouzouki and the baglamas are the direct descendants.
Among the many legendary bouzouki players in Greece was Manolis Chiotis. The musician, composer, and singer revolutionized Greek music with his four-course bouzouki and made music from Greece popular across the world, even in the White House.
In 1960, as he with his wife and longtime collaborator Mary Linda were touring the US, they were invited to the White House by US President Lyndon B. Johnson to perform on his birthday. The pair were offered Green Cards by the President, so that they could live and work in the US for as long as they wished.
Other master Greek composers were Yiannis Papaioannou, Manolis Chiotis, Dimitris Gogos (Bagiaderas) and Giorgos Zampetas.