Thessaloniki: a city right on the crossroad where different people, languages and ideas meet. That’s where we found ourselves in order to put together a diverse music program, capable of reflecting the multitude of clashes between the above: musical elements of different origins, sung in nine different languages. Languages of local communities still alive in the city but also those of countries – Sephardic, Armenian, Serbian but also Albanian, Calabrian Greek and Bulgarian.
The majority of the pieces sung are traditional songs arranged for choir by the maestro Kostika Çollaku. Significantly important is the transcription of a song by Vassilis Tsitsanis, an emblematic figure of Thessaloniki’s musical history and past and an acquaintance of Ntinos Christianopoulos, whom this year’s Dimitria Festival pays homage to. A different side of the Contradition Ensemble reveals itself in the last two pieces, more classical in spirit, and written by two contemporary composers, the first of which is Krzysztof Penderecki. It acts as a tribute to the Polish composer, who passed away during the “lockdown” period. The final piece, composed by K. A. Arnesen with lyrics written by an unidentified Jewish fugitive in hideout somewhere in the Cologne of Nazi Germany, speaks of faith, of love and hope – in a time when those attributes seem scarce. A wish for all those viewing from a distance.
The vocal ensemble ‘Contradition Ensemble’ was created in March 2015 in Thessaloniki by composer Kostika Çollaku. It is a flexible ensemble that consists of 15 to 20 people. The number of members is determined depending on the requirements of each concert. The goal of the ensemble is to promote a unique repertoire that is not often presented, either because it is not recognised or because it is too difficult. The repertoire includes traditional pieces in their original language and contemporary classical works by major composers. It has held concerts at Alaca Imaret in Thessaloniki (2016 and 2019), at the Armenian Church of Thessaloniki (2016), at Yeni Cami in Thessaloniki (2017), and at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall (2017). In April 2017 it presented Alfred Schnittke’s Requiem at the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki, in cooperation with ‘Percautistic’ ensemble and Alexandros Ioannou. In 2018 it participated in the secret gigs organised by Sofar Sounds, while that same year it presented a concert with pieces from well-known animated films (Disney and Animé) at Alexandros theatre. Besides its concerts, it has also recorded, made videos, and participated in many flash mobs and other non-concert actions.