Interviewed by Greece China Friendship Gate Association, the strategic partner of Meet Culture.
Mr. Dalaras we deeply thank you for the honor of offering us this interview. Have you ever visit China?
China is one of the few places I’ve never been visited but I really want to do it. It’s in my immediate plans. But I know and I admire the great civilization and the history of this country.
How close do you think the two nations are?
Honestly I don’t know how close the modern citizens of the two countries are. But it’s for sure that both have long history, civilization and contribution to Art, Philosophy, Literature and Sciences.
For us, Greeks, whenever we want to say that we don’t understand something we use the expression: “Look Chinese to me”. The English speaking people, from the other side, say: “Sound Greek to me”. How would you approach the two people by a way of “talking” each other’s language?
What others consider as difficulty for me is the fascination of the transcendence. Yes, we both have difficult languages, with complicated grammar and syntax, but Education and Arts open the horizons and make the people tolerant to diversity and receptive to new influences. This is the real internationalism: To respect your own expression, not to acculturate, but to be open in good influences. For me, also, there is no better language of mutual understanding than good music.
Have you ever listen to Chinese music? If yes, is there any particular song that made you like it or a specific artist?
Of course I’ve listened. The music of China is an ocean. Unfortunately I don’t know about modern Chinese musicians and singers and I would like to know about them.
If you would like to talk to a Chinese audience about Greece, which song of yours would you choose?
It’s a tough question. I would choose an urban Greek song (rebetiko as we call it): The “Ungrateful” of Vassilis Tsitsanis let’s say and a song from Theodorakis and Chatzidakis.
Are you thinking about a concert in China? Is it in your plans?
Yes, in the past we were too close for arranging a concert in China. For me it would be very nice to perform some of the most beautiful Greek ad Mediterranean songs, for a Symphonic Orchestra of China, as we did it in many places globally. This convergence, as I have noticed, unites artists from different countries and moves the audience.
By what song you’d open the concert?
I think we said above as well. By many songs: By “The heavy sky is leaving” of Stavros Kouyioumtzis, by “Beautiful City” of Theodorakis, by “White pigeon” of Chatzidakis, by “Arab Land” of Tsitsanis.
What is your opinion about the Chinese Cinema? Did you watch any movies and if yes which of them you ranked as favorite?
My opinion for Chinese Cinema is excellent. I esteem and pay respect a lot the contribution of China to the global cinema. We’ve watched amazing movies such as “Crouching Tiger – Hidden Dragon” but also “Old Well” and “Hero” of Zhang Yimou.
Which one of our movies would you like to be watched in China?
“Thiasos – The travelling players” or “Ulysses’ Gaze” of Thodoros Angelopoulos, “Brides” or “Little England” of Pantelis Voulgaris, “A touch of Spice” of Tassos Booulmetis, but also new directors such as the movies of George Lanthimos, “The Lobster” or “Alps”. There are many more too. Y think that Greek cinema is going well, according to the big difficulties.
(smile) Would you like to learn Chinese? Would you recommend it to someone you know?
I think that, because I didn’t learn the language until now, it is difficult now on, even though it’s never too late. I would recommend it unconditionally because I am a person of methodical study. Especially to young people, I think that a parallel exciting world would be opened for them.
Chinese people are informed that our country passes a severe economic crisis and that Greece is in a difficult situation. Would you like to tell them anything about it?
I would like to tell them that they are well informed. We appreciate their friendship and their support and I want them to know that we, as them, are a nation with long history and we passed enormous difficulties and sufferings, we have fought and when Greeks are united we are the winners in the end.
Greece – China Friendship Gate has proposed, since 2008, and works hard for its realization, a nationwide project of “Year of China in Greece” in return of the Chinese Year 2008, when China honored our country and our civilization for a whole year. We respectively propose the organizing of series of contacts in annual basis in all the fields (educational, cultural, commercial, tourism) in our country, by a festive style and events. What is your opinion about the possibility of organizing such a project?
It is absolutely positive, useful, in openness and exemplary in a period of bigotry and fear of the diversity. It is an example for imitation. I declare unconditionally supporter and volunteer.
Mr. Dalaras, we thank you very much for the honor and we wish you (we will work on this) to “talk” in your own unique language soon in China.