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Kotsinadellis Thanasis | Lemnos | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Tsimandria, Lemnos
• Short biography

Thanasis Kotsinadellis was born in 1930, in the village of Tsimandria, in Lemnos. He plays the lyra to this day (2005), and also runs a tavern in the village square. He comes from an old Lemnos family, who were prominently involved in the Lemnos music scene: «My father [Georgios Kotsinadellis, born in 1900] was a major animal farmer [...]. [...] And he also sang in the church choir and he was a musician, too [...]. My father had five brothers [...]. All five played the lyra. One of them was in Egypt, he played the lyra there [Kotsinadellis Theodosis]. [...] In those years, everyone took their own path and [went] anywhere [...]. Another one was in America, Dimitros [...]. Then another one left, the last one, and went to America [he’s referring to his father’s brother, Christos Kotsinadellis]. [...] Lemnos had many lyra players, so many. And my father was the best.»

He took up the lyra at a young age, but didn’t become seriously involved until after he completed his military service: «I only learned to play the lyra properly after I was dismissed». His knowledge of the lyra is practical rather than theoretical, and – as he says himself – his father, who died at a young age, never had the chance to teach him: «My father, you know, he never got to teach me anything [...]. He never got the chance [...]. He died young [aged 53], he never showed me a single string, what a string is called. But I guess I have the music in me, in my blood [...]».

Thanasis Kotsinadellis performs in various musical events on a regular basis, both on and off the island of Lemnos. On his performances off the island, he mentions: «I’ve been all over Greece. I went to Syros [too] [...]. I went to Thessaloniki recently, Alexandroupoli, Komotini [...], I went to the festival in Ksanthi [...]. I’ve been to Kavala many times. I go there a couple of times a year, at least. [I go at] the beginning of the Anemotrata and during the Carnival [...]. I’ve also been to Kasos three times. Three times. Some locals asked me to go [...]. I go to Athens [...] I went To Mytilini five times, to play». Of his international performances, he says: «[...] we went to Italy [with the ‘Kechagiades’ Association] and there were people from all countries there. From Russia, from Austria, from Romania, Bulgaria, all the associations. And we danced every night, for 12 days [...]. I’ve been to Australia twice [...]. The first time, I went on my own. I was invited [...]. Twice to South Africa [...] The first time on ’86, the second in ’88 [when he was invited by the Lemnos Association]. [...] I went to America twice. I was invited by the Lemnians there, too [...]. In France, we went to Paris. We went to Geneva, the whole association, and we danced [...]. There was a lot of dancing».

Thanasis Kotsinadellis’ repertoire includes songs of his own, alongside the traditional local tunes. Some of them are his own versions of old tunes: «Then I enriched them, the dances, you know? I wrote many of them. I’d listen to the ballos but didn’t know it. There was an old couple in Kontia whom I visited quite regularly. I was there one evening [and] they were getting ready for bed and I said ‘Do me a favour and try to remember how you dance it, how? I only need a bit, not much, I’ll figure it out, I said’, ‘Well, look, like this, it was like this’. The old lady got up and danced, and he danced a bit too, as much as he could, and that’s how I started, and wrote the ballos. I added some steps, I gave it beat, I gave it lyrics. [...] All of my songs have a strong taste of Lemnos. We say [for example] ‘se pandecho’, [apandecho – he’s referring to the title of one of his CDs] [...]. Some words need to be said like that [as they’re spoken in Lemnos]”.

As part of an effort to revive old musical practices, Thanasis Kotsinadellis often sings improvised lyrics, known as ‘batzinades’. Traditionally, their subject matter is adapted to the occasion of each event: «We call it batzinades. That’s what we call it [...]. But there’s no one left now [to make up lyrics]. [...] I make lyrics up. I have a tune that I use everywhere I go, and I make up the lyrics according to each place [...]. In the events, in Mytilini, in Epano Skala, [in] Plomari, [in] Petra – different lyrics each time. We were in Paros last year, and I sang different lyrics for Paros [...]. I make them up [the lyrics] right there and then [while I sing] and a little in advance».

Recordings of Thanasis Kotsinadellis’ music [also] exist in the archives of Simonas Karras: «Karras came and we went to a village, up in Plaka, and we made the record. We made a record, we were all musicians [...]. There was an old house in Plaka, a little old house, this is 35 years ago now [...]. There was someone by the name of Midelias Giannis there, and he played my lyra. I sang. He was from the village of Panagia and then there was this man Dimitris, from Pedino, Chatzicharalambou, he played the violin, he played very well, beautifully. There was Giorgos Stefanidakis [...]. There was Jimmy Bogdanos, santouri [...], he was good [...]. There was Tryfonas Katis [...], bouzouki, he was good, and he was the one who brought the bouzouki to Lemnos. He was struggling, too, in those days [...] And [when] he got the chance, he played in the evenings, he played and played, up until recently, [he played] very well [...]. There might have been others who were better, maybe they became better [later], but the way Tryfonas played was something else. They couldn’t match that [...]».

These days, Thanasis Kotsinadellis has quite an important discography under his belt. As he pointed out himself, he was recorded four CDs of traditional tunes of Lemnos, his own songs, and songs his father used to play:

 «Se pantecho, se pantecho, nisiotiko odoiporiko» («Se pantecho, se pantecho, an island journey») Studio recording, Kavala. Participating musicians: Stavros Toutalas – Nikos Tentinis [lute], Kyriakos Gouventas [violin], Dimitris Tentinis [darbouka - tambourine].

 «Mia vradia stin taverna tou Merakli» («A night at Meraklis’ tavern»). Studio recording, Kavala. Participating musicians: Stavros Toutalas – Nikos Tentinis [lute], and Dimitris Tentinis [keyboard].

 «The tradition of Lemnos». Studio recording, Kavala. Participating musicians: His grandson, Athanasios Kotsinadellis, Stavros Toutalas [Oud], Nikos Tentinis [lute], and Konstantinos Papapantos [touberleki – darbouka].

 «Lemnos and its songs». Studio recording, Athens. Participating musicians: Kostas Pitsos [guitar – lute], Angelos Damiris [bass], and Kostas Meintanidis [percussion].