Dimitris Maramis sails through a sea of ancestral myths, folktale and iconic masterpieces of Greek literature to craft a world of pure magic.

Dimitris Maramis

A modern-day Ulysses of music

Text: Yiorgos Papadimitriou | Photographs: Dimitris Maramis's Archive

Athens-born composer Dimitris Maramis studied Piano and Composition, initially at the Attiko Conservatory of Music and subsequently at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, in Great Britain. He has collaborated with the most prestigious cultural institutions and organizations in Greece, while his works have been internationally acclaimed. He has released eight personal albums, having composed music for more than forty theatrical shows. On Saturday, November 7th, Thessaloniki’s audience will have the chance to take delight in (as long as the circumstances allow it) Dimitris Maramis’ music in a unique – and emotionally charged – concert.

“This concert is a sentimental journey guided by my compositions: a 16-year course, all the way from my debut album up to now. We team up with MOYSA, the Thessaloniki Concert Hall’s Youth Symphony Orchestra, as well as with a series of brilliant young performers from Thessaloniki, such as Thodoris Voutsikakis, Eleni Dimopoulou, and Mela Gerofoti, with whom I have worked on multiple occasions over the last years. Throughout my entire career, I got along the best with young people, who are versatile, enthusiastic, and untamed.”

In this beautiful melodic journey we’ve been invited to as Maramis’ guests, a fascinating blend is in store for us: the famous composer’s much-revered cycles of songs, his contemporary Greek musicals, Erotokritos and The Haunted, as well as excerpts from his latest work, Captain Michalis. Above all, though, this concert is held in the memory of a remarkable person, Olga Tampouri-Mpampali, former artistic director of Sani Festival, who passed away at such an early age. “Olga was a fantastic person, whom I loved dearly. She contributed to our country’s cultural landscape in a modest and substantial way. It’s important to honor people of significance, who blessed you with their generosity. She’s always on my mind,” Dimitris Maramis says.

Dimitris Maramis crafts a magical and transcendental universe, drawing inspiration from myths, folkway and traditional songs. “Myths contain magic. They unfold the unknown hidden in the dark, unchaining human imagination, in an attempt to dismiss our fears. That’s why I’m drawn to them. Myths touch upon the childlike manners of the human mind. They are diffused through tradition and folk poetry, inextricably linked to Homer and the Attic tragedy, the very foundations of our poetry and dialectics,” he goes on to say.

One of the renowned composer’s upcoming projects is the operatic rendition of Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel Captain Michalis. “Freedom in this world we’re living in is a commodity that comes at a risky, if not prohibitive, price. Once you dare to free yourself from any chain that binds you, guilt, obligations, ancestry, material wealth, ego, conformism, prudishness, there’s a heavy price to pay. But at the same time, you’ll liberate yourself; you’ll grow wings and fly! Captain Michalis outlines the ultimate struggle for freedom, the victory we concede even over death, since it’s up to us to choose when and how we’ll call it a wrap, surpassing our fears. The play, based upon the original text by Kazantzakis, is composed for a string orchestra and 12 performers, accompanied by chorus intermissions with lyrics by poet Sotiris Trivizas. The show is directed by Efi Theodorou and co-produced by the Region of Crete and the Municipal and Regional Theater of Crete.”

As to the peak of his stunning career, he gives a straightforward answer: “The staging of Erotokritos at the Greek National Opera and the Herodeion, in 2017. I had the chance to channel my personal approach as a composer into one the most renowned plays of Greek literature. Judging by Greek standards, it was an innovative and convention-breaking adaptation that reached out to a wide audience of all ages that came to be acquainted with my work, without me having to make concessions on my aesthetic standards. The play’s reception was, and still is, hearty and enthusiastic,” he explains.

Dimitris Maramis, as every true artist, views his art as a means of communication and not as close circuit self-referential circuit. “Music can become connected with a tree or a stone. There’s no greater proof of the linkage between music and architecture than my composition, The Music of the Rotunda, where the special features of this Roman monument shaped the form and the structuring of my music. To be more specific, I tried to create a type of music that would incorporate the resonance generated by Rotunda’s gigantic, transforming this downside into a benefit. Moreover, the mystical monument’s mystical ambience and heritage called for a specific timbre.”

Concluding, Dimitris Maramis did not fail to mention the influences that have shaped his identity as a musician. “I was definitely influenced by Italian music and opera. I am a theatrical composer and a melodist; I belong to the field of musical theater and singing. I am not a symphonic composer. My other sources of influence can be traced in Greek poetry and the beauty of Greek nature: the light, the sea, and love. Since music is an endless and everyday study for me, all great composers offer me guidance. I meticulously steal anything that touches me; I reshape and reanimate it, making it my own. First and foremost, I am a music lover and a devotee of great composers. And I humbly strive to pitch in to this wonderful mosaic of sounds.”