Uproot: Music from Asia Minor

Be transported, enchanted and entranced by music from a long-lost land

The Kombos Collective presents Uproot, a powerful program of Greek songs from Asia Minor. In collaboration with rembetiko interpreter Katerina Clambaneva, the ensemble performs modern arrangements of Greek music from the region, celebrating this vibrant musical heritage and capturing the refugee experience through song. Uproot weaves histories and personal stories throughout, generating a universal dialogue about the impact of forced migration and building a bridge to the experience of modern-day refugees. Uproot first premiered its Bay Area tour in February 2023 to an enthusiastic reception.

Album Coming Soon

Release date: June 21, 2024

Will be available on CD, LP, digital download & streaming platforms

Album Press

“For Kombos Collective’s Katerina Clambaneva, Ellie Falaris Ganelin, Emma Selmon, and Mary-Victoria Voustas, the sense of accomplishment of bringing together the heritage of Greek songs and framing them against the refugee experience in such a way that they are not only seismic and beautiful, they resonate with the echoes of all who have found the need to evacuate, to settle in lands not of their own toil across time itself.” —Ian D. Hall, Liverpool Sound and Vision (full review)


“intimately compelling”

Jeff Kaliss, San Francisco Classical Voice

“engaging…an hour well spent.”

Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio

Press

“The Greek Chamber Music Project has found beauteous sound in the songs of the more than a million Greek refugees forced to flee their historic Anatolian homeland a century ago. The Uproot program is intimately compelling, positioning the folksy but compelling soprano voice of Athenian Katerina Clambaneva among the artful chamber arrangements by Ellie Falaris Ganelin for her flutes, the cello of Lewis Patzner, and the piano of Elektra Schmidt. They traverse alluringly the regret, the humor, and the pride of the refugees who bolstered the Greek culture of the 20th Century, as well its population, with melodic modes and dance rhythms reflective of Turkish and Arabic influences. For audiences, this is a journey both of discovery by the ears and recognition by the heart.”

—Jeff Kaliss, San Francisco Classical Voice

Recalling a Catastrophe with Chamber Music
Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio – February 4, 2023

Music from the Uprooted
Andrew Gilbert, The Mercury News – February 1, 2023

Uproot, Concert Tour Marking Asia Minor Catastrophe Centennial, Opens Feb. 3
The National Herald – January 31, 2023

Greek Urban Folk Music Makes the Journey From Taverna to Salon
Jeff Kaliss, San Francisco Classical Voice – January 27, 2023

Greek Chamber Music Project Presents Uproot, a Program of Songs from Asia Minor
The National Herald – December 3, 2022


Historical Significance

Hellenic-speaking peoples have ancient roots in Asia Minor, also known as Anatolia, a region that covers present-day Turkey. During the Ottoman Empire, modern port cities like Smyrna and Constantinople were international hubs of culture and commerce, with rich musical traditions that reflected their diverse populations: Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Arabs, Roma, Jews and people from across Europe, Africa and Asia. Neapolitan songs, waltzes, opera, and the melismatic Café Aman tradition all made up the musical fabric of these places. A style known as smyrneika, meaning from Smyrna, emerged from this cosmopolitan milieu and could be heard in taverns and cafes. 

The concept for Uproot started in 2022 at the centennial of the 1922 Asia Minor Catastrophe, one of the most tragic events in Modern Greek history. With the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of Greek and Turkish nationalism, the two nationalist armies went to war, and in Asia Minor in late 1922, led to the mass atrocities and expulsion of Greeks and other Christians. In September 1922, Smyrna was set on fire and the Greek and Armenian districts largely burned to the ground. My own ancestors were living in Smyrna at the time and managed to escape with their lives. Their only remaining possessions were their sacred icons, which my family still treasures to this day. Their story of survival and resilience is the driving force behind this project. In the process of arranging the songs, I was so moved at the realization that my great-grandparents likely knew these songs. This music has connected me to my ancestors and the rich life-worlds they inhabited, prior to and even through their experience of displacement. 

Rembetiko was a musical style that emerged in newly independent Greece in the 19th century. It’s an urbanized folk tradition that reflects the pain and malaise of the underworld, people who were marginalized to the fringes of society. Anatolian refugees often became part of the urban underworld and undoubtedly influenced rembetiko with their own experiences of longing and displacement. Dance traditions like the zeibekiko and the tsifteteli, now common elements in the genre, have their origins in Asia Minor. Uproot features a mix of traditional smyrneika songs from Asia Minor and rembetiko tunes from mainland Greece. Like memories, the songs go forward and backward in chronology, and also span different corners of the Aegean. It is my hope that these songs can act as portals into the joys and sorrows of refugees from one corner of the world, and resonate with a common refugee experience the world over.

Ellie Falaris Ganelin  •  Director, Kombos Collective


Artists

Katerina Clambaneva
Bio

Katerina Clambaneva specializes in traditional and contemporary Greek music and performs internationally, throughout Europe and the United States. She is captivated by world music and is very interested in cultural fusion through musical expression. She has a versatile voice and enjoys singing in a multitude of languages.

Katerina maintains a busy performance schedule participating in several groups including, PAKAW!, Plastikes Karekles, and the Josquin Singers of B.A.C.H. Cities she has performed in include Athens, San Francisco, Oakland, London, Isle of Wight, Ixtapa Mexico, Brussels Belgium, Istanbul, Luxembourg, Mytilini Greece and counting. Favorite venues include the National Theatre in London, the Green Note in Camden, ODC Theatre in San Francisco and 1002 Nihtes in Athens.

Career highlights as a vocalist include the dance production of Rebetiko with Yannis Adoniou’s KUNST-STOFF and music by Minos Matsas, with shows in Berlin and San Francisco and the film score for the Spanish film De Tu Ventana a la mia directed by Paula Ortiz with music composed by Avshalom Caspi.

Katerina was born in San Francisco and raised in Athens, Greece. After completing her Bachelor of Arts in Classical Civilizations from UC Berkeley, she built her career in Arts Administration and Marketing. She has been living in London since 2009, where she completed her Masters in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Music at City University and currently works as a performing arts manager.

Ellie Falaris Ganelin
Bio

Ellie Falaris Ganelin is a flutist and music director who is classically trained and welcomes other traditions into the fold, including jazz, Latin, Balkan and klezmer music. She is active as a performer of chamber and orchestral music in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is committed to making classical music inviting and accessible for all as an ambassador and performer for the Awesöme Orchestra Collective. For the past decade, she has been the director of the Kombos Collective, which aims to inspire, educate and challenge audiences through innovative programming. Ellie received her B.A. in Music from the University of Maryland, where she also holds a B.A. in Journalism and a Minor in French.

Bio

Mary-Victoria Voutsas is a “powerful” and “enthralling pianist” (Washington City Paper). She has toured extensively as a pianist and classical musician; she has performed solo at many notable venues, including the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage & Terrace Theatre, the Lisner Auditorium, and many embassies. Ms. Voutsas is also one of the visiting Artists in Residency for Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts and has accompanied for the National Symphony Orchestra and artists such as Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alison Krauss, and collaboratively performed on NPR’s Tiny Desk series. Ms. Voutsas resides in the Washington D.C. area, where she teaches piano and theory, and performs regularly. She is completing her D.M.A. at Catholic University, and her dissertation is focused on the piano works of Manos Hadjidakis and the history and influence of rebetika music in Hellenic song.

Bio

DC Area-based clarinetist Emma Selmon is pursuing her doctor of musical arts degree at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she is active in the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Orchestra and Maryland Opera Studio orchestra. She is a founding member of glass trees, a flexible-instrumentation ensemble specializing in contemporary music and non-traditional concert experiences. She was a 2022 contemporary performance fellow at the Atlantic Music Festival in Waterville, Maine, where she performed clarinet and bass clarinet on the premieres of 15 new chamber ensemble works. Selmon holds a master’s in clarinet performance from the University of Maryland and a bachelor’s in clarinet performance from the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music in Ohio. She currently studies clarinet with Robert DiLutis and serves as the clarinet studio graduate assistant at UMD. Beyond her musical pursuits, Selmon previously served as a reporter and news editor with the Gratiot County Herald, an Ithaca, Michigan-based weekly circulation newspaper with a readership of 11,000.

Bio

Cellist Douglas Machiz is in high demand as both a classical and contemporary musician. He co-founded the Friction Quartet, a nonprofit performing arts organization whose mission is to modernize the chamber music experience and expand the string quartet repertoire. An active educator, Doug is on faculty at The Crowden School, where he teaches private cello lessons and ensembles. A native of Washington, D.C., Doug first came to the Bay Area to attend San Francisco Conservatory, where he earned his Professional Studies Diploma under Jennifer Culp. He also holds a Masters Degree in cello performance from UT Austin, where he studied with Bion Tsang. 

Elektra Schmidt
Bio

Award-winning pianist Elektra Schmidt performs as a solo artist and in chamber groups in the United States as well as France, Greece, and the United Kingdom. She has had the good fortune to work with such visionaries as Marios Papadopoulos, Neil Immelman, Theodor Paraskeveku, the Ganev duo and others. After graduating summa cum laude from the National Conservatory of her native Greece, Elektra pursued her post-graduate studies in Paris at the Schola Cantorum and the Conservatoire Raoul Pugno under the guidance of distinguished pianist Lilia Boyadjieva. Elektra is the founder of Artist Migration, an organization dedicated to the integration and mobility of international artists. Elektra has been on the panel as adjudicator in the United States Open Music Competition since 2017.

Press Images

Katerina Clambaneva | photo credit: Rania Gallianos
Ellie Falaris Ganelin | photo credit: Xilo Photography
Photo credit: Hugh Dugan
Photo credit: Hugh Dugan

Booking

For booking inquiries, please contact Ellie Falaris Ganelin at greekchambermusic@gmail.com.

Technical and hospitality rider

Past Performances

2024 Engagements

San Francisco International Arts Festival

Saturday, May 11, 2024 • 7pm
Community Music Center, 544 Capp St, San Francisco

Mother’s Day Concert

Sunday, May 12, 2024 • 3pm
1301 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA

Enjoy mimosas and bites for this intimate event. Spots are limited, so book your tickets ahead of time.

Santa Clara University

Wednesday, May 15, 2024 • 12pm
Free admission

Part of the Music@Noon Series at Santa Clara University

Artists
Katerina Clambaneva, vocals
Ellie Falaris Ganelin, flute & arrangements
Doug Machiz, cello
Mary-Victoria Voutsas, piano

2023 Engagements

Johns Hopkins University

Sunday, October 22, 2023 • 3pm
Gilman Hall, Room 50 • Bowman Drive, Baltimore, MD

Co-sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University’s Alexander Grass Humanities Institute, the Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship, the Departments of Anthropology and Art History, and the Program in Islamic Studies.

Artists
Katerina Clambaneva, vocals
Ellie Falaris Ganelin, flute & arrangements
Emma Selmon, clarinet
Mary-Victoria Voutsas, piano

University of Maryland

Friday, October 20, 2023
Tawes Hall, Ulrich Recital Hall • 7751 Alumni Drive College Park, MD

Co-sponsored by the University of Maryland Department of Classics and the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies and by Hellenic Society Prometheas.

Artists
Katerina Clambaneva, vocals
Ellie Falaris Ganelin, flute & arrangements
Emma Selmon, clarinet
Mary-Victoria Voutsas, piano

San Francisco Greek Film Festival

Sunday, March 19, 2023
Delancey Street Screening Room • 600 The Embarcadero, San Francisco
4:30pm – live music
5pm – screening

The San Francisco Greek Film Festival proudly presents a one night screening of the award-winning film Smyrna (Σμύρνη μου αγαπημένη): a powerful film about the Asia Minor Catastrophe and a love letter to the cosmopolitan city of Smyrna. The director of the film, Grigoris Karantinakis, introduces the film and holds a Q&A after the screening. GCMP performs instrumental selections from UPROOT, with performances by Ellie Falaris Ganelin (flute) and Christina Elektra Schmidt (piano). The film is spoken in English, Greek and Turkish, with English subtitles. Presented by the San Francisco Greek Film Festival

Old First Concerts

Friday, February 3, 2023 at 8pm

1751 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA and Live-Streamed

This performance is made possible in part by the generous support of Dr. Alexi Exuzides.

Sacramento State University

Friday, February 10, 2023 at 7pm

Hinde Auditorium • 6000 J St, Sacramento, CA

Sponsored by the Hellenic Studies Program at Sacramento State University

St. Paul Lutheran Church

Sunday, February 12, 2023 at 4pm

1658 Excelsior Ave, Oakland, CA

Katerina Clambaneva, vocals
Ellie Falaris Ganelin, flute
Lewis Patzner, cello
Jonathan Alford, piano