A music career is no sprint, but rather a marathon. It demands perseverance and adherence on a long-term basis. I do not believe in razzle-dazzles, but in people who put forth an artistic result endowed with care and consistency

Antonis Sousamoglou

A long-distance runner

Text: Chryssa Nanou || Photographs: Antonis Sousamoglou's archive
Antonis Sousamoglou

One of the most acclaimed and multifaceted violinists of his generation, Antonis Sousamoglou is a daring and unpredictable musician that keeps on seeking new ways of expression, matching his work as a soloist and an orchestrator to an impressive stint as a composer. He has a series of collaborations with well-known Greek symphonic ensembles and international orchestras under his belt. Among them stand out the following names: Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra, Athens State Orchestra, Camerata, Orchestra of Colors, ERT National Symphony Orchestra, Thessaloniki City Symphony Orchestra, City University of London Orchestra. He has performed in various prestigious venues, such as Herodion, Berliner Philarmoniker’s Kammermusiksaal, St. John’s Smith Square of London and Athens Concert Hall.

“A music career is no sprint, but rather a marathon. It demands perseverance and adherence on a long-term basis. I do not believe in razzle-dazzles, but in people who put forth an artistic result endowed with care and consistency,” he points out. Born in Thessaloniki, he studied the violin and superior theoretics at the New Conservatory. “Music was a family tradition. My father is a musician, so I started to take music courses at the age of four. At first, music fundamentals and later on the violin. A decade later, when I started to envisage my future, I realized that I couldn’t be happy unless I became a musician,” he recalls.

He continued his studies in Berlin (Hochschule der Künste, Hanns Eisler Music Academy) and London (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) as a scholar of the Onassis Foundation and “Techni” Macedonian Art Society. He graduated with the title of Konzertexamen from Rostock Academy of Music and Theater. He studied alongside great masters, such as David Takeno, Christoph Poppen, Stelios Kafantaris, Bernhard Hartog, while studying superior theoretics at the Christos Samaras’ class. He is a PhD holder at London’s City University, with a thesis on the violinist work of Nikos Skalkotas.

He considers that both his place of origin and the countries where he studied played a key role in the shaping of his identity as a musician. “We are the sum of our experiences. In our days, of course, classical music follows somewhat homogenized sound motifs. However, I cherish and value the artists of all genres and styles who succeed in leaving a personal print. I am deeply fascinated by the oral tradition we all carry within us, which affects the way we interpret a work or write a song.”

As to his collaboration with the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra, he points out: “TSSO is a top-notch European orchestra and it is a privilege for all of us to have it in Thessaloniki and for me, personally, to be its member. In a small ensemble or a band, one can distinguish the personality and the sound of each musician. As the number of musicians rises and after a certain point, individuals become indistinguishable and the entity is equipped with its own solid identity, as it if has magically come to life. There is a kind of magic in so many people producing music all together and simultaneously. I feel that anyone who has not seen a symphonic orchestra performing is missing out on something really beautiful.”

As to the classic repertoire, he feels there’s room for renewal. “Taking a careful glance at the programs of the acclaimed orchestras, one can’t help but notice a clear change of direction and approach. First of all, there’s a shift towards the works of the 20th century. Works that were deemed as modern are now labeled as classics. The 20th century has been filtered through the prism of time, and all the great works of this period are beginning to take center stage. It has also become evident that the orchestras opt for a programming that is incorporated in a thematic dramaturgy, where an inner thread binds together the works performed, unveiling new meanings. Moreover, our knowledge and understanding of baroque music are of a higher level. The boundaries are not so strict as a couple of generations ago and the recent works that make their way to today’s repertoire is a reason for me to be optimistic. The difficulty we’re bound to face really soon is how we will introduce the great works to the younger generation, accustomed to the playlist format. The speed of receiving and swapping information has dramatically changed.”

Over the last years, he has been writing music for cinema and dance theater, having three solo albums under his belt. He began writing songs in his adolescent years, fueled by both the… usual and the less usual motivations. “The initial spark for most songwriters is no other than to “win the girl’s heart”. Later on, songwriting allowed me to construct little worlds and speak of things that I observe or I’m drawn to, things I cannot express through words. This enchanting blend of speech and music won me over, in a very different way compared to how I’m moved by a symphonic work. What’s interesting is that I was impressed by artists who wrote both the lyrics and the music and not by composers who were focused exclusively on music.”

Music-wise, what will come out of these peculiar times we’re living in? “We are blindly moving forward, striving to grasp the future and reglue the social tissue that has been torn apart,” he replies. “I have the feeling that listening to music will transform into an individualized activity, a prospect that does not excite me at all, to be honest. The way artists reach out to their audience will change. The lockdown-driven technology that came into our lives is here to stay. However, the optimist inside of me still clings on the hope that nothing could ever replace human contact.”