Incense of Music Nr. 8/ Chisholm, Atzakas, Fotinaki

Incense of Music Nr. 8 took place on 22nd August 2016 in the beautiful village of Agios Lavrentios in the mountains of Pilion, Greece, during the fabulous Music Village Festival. Who has been there, knows what we are talking about: a melting pot of nature, truth and beauty. Thanks to Thimios Atzakas, oud player from Thessaloniki and co-organiser of the festival, we were invited and had the privilege to share the stage of the Arches of Aghios Dimitrios with three incredible artists: Hayden Chisholm from New Zealand (who already appeared in the fourth concert of the series), the above mentioned Thimios Atzakas and Katerina Fotinaki, a Greek singer and songwriter.

The concert occurred in four separate sets, three solos of each musician, finally an improvised trio all together. We started with Elemi, a tropical and subtropical tree in the  Burseraceae family. This tree grows across tropical Africa, south and southeast Asia, Indochina, Malesia, Australia and western Pacific Islands. The plant reaches a height of up to 40–50 m . Its resin is a pale yellow substance, of honey-like consistency with a fragrance of pine and lemon-like scents. Hayden Chisholm, his saxophone and his sruti box; contributed the rest.

In the second set Thimios Atzakas and his oud were supported by a super classic of incense burning, Boswellia sacra, commonly known as frankincense, a tree in the Burseraceae family, from which frankincense, a resinous dried sap, is harvested. It is native to the Arabian Peninsula (Oman, Yemen) and northeastern Africa (Somalia). The tree reaches a height of 2 to 8 m, tolerates the most critical situations and is often on rocky slopes and ravines, up to an altitude of 1,200 m, mostly in calcarreous soil. Frankincense is mentioned in the Bible as one of the three types of gifts the wise men gave to the young baby Jesus of Nazareth and has been traded on the Arabian Peninsula and in North Africa for more than 5000 years. This precious resin was monopolised in the Western world for a long period by the church, for this reason it is mainly associated with the religious services of Catholics and Orthodox.

I adore this fragment of Katerina Fotinaki, that evening with her guitar, some electronics and her beautiful voice she was able to create an intimate performance full of beauty. Thank heavens it was recorded and thank heavens it is on Youtube. Luckily I was able to work with Katerina again later on (and with Andrea Voets, Evi Filippou and Chiara Somajni on Xenitia, a  documentary-concert on Greek migration). That night we burnt Juniper, for the second time in our series.

At the end the musicians united forces and started to improvise. We did as well and mixed all scents together entering alchemic ambitions: Elemi, Frankincense and Juniper easily coexisted and built a crossing fragrance full of meanings and associations.