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Christou Stratis | Lesvos | Biographical data
• Short biography

Place of birth:
Plagia, Plomari

Year of birth:
1925

Occupation:
He is a musician with theoretical knowledge of music. He also plays accordion and the guitar.

Parents:
His father Dimitris or Mitros Christou and his mother were both from Plagia. His father was born in 1901 or 1902 and was a professional musician with theoretical knowledge of music. He played the santouri (dulcimer), the violin and violoncello. Stratis Christou, talking about his grandfather, mentions the fact that he also played the clarinet and the bagpipe.
Stratis’ brother, Panayiotis Christou, is also a professional musician as he plays the violin. Moreover, his step-brother, Yiannis Christou, was a professional santouri player.

Professional career-jobs
Parallel to his music playing, he was also busy with the cultivation of his olive groves. At a young age he also learned the art of shoemaking. He even opened his own shoe shop in Plagia, but was obliged to shut it down after a year and half, because he could not compete with the expanding mechanized shoe factories nationally.

Education and Music knowledge:
On his wish to learn to play music and, more specifically the accordion, Stratis Christou notes:
“At the Aghia Triada holiday (Holy Trinity) there was always music. During that time, the accordion was first introduced as a music instrument. A man called Poseidonas Karavas (he played the violin), and his sons from Palaioxori, were good musicians. I really liked the accordion, so I stayed sleepless all night and I excitedly stared at it. So, my father saw my desire and he decided to find me a teacher. However, as we didn’t have any money to buy an accordion, I started learning the guitar instead.”

So, Stratis Christou learned the guitar, in Plomari, with Vasilis Kaldis as a teacher. During this learning stage,the fact that his father Dimitris played the violin, santouri and contrabass, as well as his older brother Panayiotis played the violin, helped him significantly.
On being a student and learning music he says: “I started learning in 1949-1950. My father made me learn how to play the santouri; nevertheless, I knew how to play the the guitar before that. I learned to play the guitar through two different ways. My teacher originated from Asia Minor but he gave me music lessons here in Plomari. His surname was Kaldis and he had a great disability in his legs. He had lots of students.”

His musical mastery:
Stratis Christou started playing music (he played the violin), around the end of the ‘40s, in his father’s music group, together with his step-brother Yannis (he played the santouri) and his cousin Yiannis (who played the cornet).
All through his career, Stratis Christou worked together with his brother Panayiotis. They had called in their music group musicians from the surrounding area of Plomari.
From the ‘50s to the ‘70s, Stratis played the accordion, while his brother Panayiotis played the violin; Giorgos Kavarnos (or “Arapis”) played the santouri and Kostas Sterianos (or “Bourlis”) the drums. Stratis Christou, also worked with Dimitris Kritzas, also from Plagia, in drums. When Kavarnos went to Australia he worked for a while with Dimitris Sterianos (who played the santouri). He had worked with him in the past, when Dimitris played the clarinet. In their music group they also had Antonis Xatzidimitriou, from Plagia as well, and Ilias Roumeliotis (or Karachalias) from Plomari. His music group during the ‘60s and ‘70s also performed along with women singers, on special occasions.
A significant voice, Manolis Giagnisis from Plagia, also played the accordion. Poseidon Karavas and Manolis Pantelelis, from Palaioxori, also performed with him occasionally.
In the ‘70’s they used to play music at weddings, in Kato Tritos; Stratis on his accordion and Panayiotis playing the violin, along with Panayiotis Paplomatas (or “Kalellis”), from Mytilene, who played the drums.
Since mid ‘80s, Stratis Christou and his brother have played for 6 to 7 years with Yorgos Batzakas from Gera (he played the bouzouki).