Tales from a Greek Island
The Pandemic
Bravo for the Frogs
A Lovely Review for American Ikaros
Long legged buzzard. Achordeia. Picture by Keith
Bonelli's eagle. Achordeia. Taken by Keith
Passing Birds
An Actress in the Village
Avlona on a Cold day
Minas Prearis died January 2013 RIP
Minas Prearis
Selection from Reviews of More Tales from a Greek Island
More Tales from a Greek Island
More Tales from a Greek Island
Elections May 2012
Where to buy
Three Days of birds
Notable Birds of North Karpathos and Saria
Living on less
The Crisis
A poem for Kevin by Ruth Padel
More birds
Birds around the village
The new cover
Kevin Andrews-An Appraisal
Tales in German
Roy Chapman Andrews
Ellinoamerica Review
The Flight of Ikaros
Bonelli's Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus)
Eleanora's Falcons
American Ikaros The search for Kevin Andrews
Spring Opening
Its not all Fun and Games
Scholar Gipsy? The Search for Kevin Andrews
Sometimes Things Work Out
Africa in Diafani
The Search for Kevin Andrews
We get E-mails
Going to the Doctors
Music in the Village

Minas Prearis died January 2013 RIP

February 2013
Minas was a great musician in his younger days, one of the best. Even now he reaches heights that others avoid. Twenty years ago he was awesome: a John Coltrane of the lyre he improvised like no one had done before and took the our music to the edge and beyond. His status is recognised: I entered a bar late one night in to chorio, the village up on the mountain. A small group of teenagers were gathered round an old cassette player listening to a tape. It was Minas and they were trying to understand how he played this note or extended that and how he had the audacity to do what he did and still keep the audience with him. Now, when the young people play, it is possible to hear Minas' music shine through. Minas rarely plays these days, there is a macho element to playing at festivities: the musicians compete for money and play for hours on end. Occasionally a lyre or lauto player will take a break for a minute or two while they rub their hands in neat whisky to ease the pain in their fingers, but the music goes on, it is relentless. Minas tells me his fingers are not strong enough, he no longer has the stamina and while he will sometimes play for me or other friends I thought I would never hear him play in public again. But I had reckoned without Michaeli, also a well respected musician though, with his proclivity to play Cretan style lyre, considered to be slightly left field. Michaeli has a fine voice and an encyclopaedic knowledge of traditional songs. He is also meraklese, a musician who can orchestrate and conduct a glendi, festival, to cover the gamut of emotions. A year ago I stumbled into the village glendi a little late. Michaeli was playing lauto and, to my surprise Minas was swinging away on the lyre. The trills were there, the swoops and flights of fantasy and ecstasy as, head back and far away, Minas peered beatifically upwards through his pebble-thick glasses. I sat next to my old friend, found a glass and lifted an ouzo to his throat and of course pushing his glasses back up his nose.

Later I was told the expected lyre player had not turned up and Michaeli asked Minas to play:

Just for five minutes.

They had been playing for more than three hours when I arrived and were singing mantinades, the rhyming couplets that are integral to the festivals here. At first I could not follow the words, but slowly realised they were singing about Minas. Not about his hypochondria, his size, or his grumbles, but Minas the miraklese, who had been a great dancer, Minas the musician who showed us the way, Minas the lover with good looks and flashing smile, Minas, the village Romeo. All the while he sat there concentrating on the music, trilling away on the lyre as if they were singing about someone else. And then his son began to sing. The mantinada must have been formulating in Georgos mind for some time, for these things are rarely instant compositions. He wanted to sing verses about his father which conveyed his love, respect and trepidation. Verses which all of us should sing if we could, but one line just would not come out:

What shall we do when his music stops?....

is a simple translation, but Georgos could not say the words. The lines stuck in his throat. Holding back tears strangled his voice and he could not finish the line. Two or three times he tried and by now we knew what he was wanted to say and we helped. Softly, at first, we sang along, gently giving support to his voice until finally Georgos gave full throat to his thoughts about his father and the chorus rang back:

What shall we do when his music stops?....

and I could see that Minas was crying as was I and many others in the hall. Now we had our glendi, we had the catharsis of feelings shared with fellow men and women and we were glad. Minas played for another two hours until he could play no more. He handed his lyre to the next musician, shook hands with those around him, held me and kissed me, and left. The party went on until dawn.