An eternal point of departure for the big journey of the voices is the Polyphony Workshop which has been functioning since 1999 at the “Fivos Anogianakis” Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments – Ethnomusicological Center and, since 2016, at the “Fivos Anogianakis” Center of Greek Music. It is in the context of the polyphonic song seminars organized there that, in 1995, the four-member nucleus, which was meant to found the polyphonic group “Chaonia” the following year, came together. The pioneers of “Chaonia” Alexandros Lampridis and Antonis Exarchos founded “Apiros” in 1998 and, since January 1999, undertook themselves the teaching in the seminars, following an invitation from the ethnomusicologist Lampros Liavas
Making good use of the experience of the Polyphonic Caravan, the seminars were included in the logic of a workshop of polyphony, in which many of the subsequent interpreters and even teachers of the polyphonic song have apprenticed. The teaching torch has been passed on to the hands of its most competent students diachronically. Hence, Maria Tsoukala assisted Alexandros Lampridis in teaching from 2003 to 2009, while Aliki Gkana has been assisting him in all polyphony workshops since 2013 until today. It is notable that seven more students of the workshop taught later in other polyphony seminars, in Greece and abroad.
The function of the Polyphony Workshop of “Fivos Anogianakis” Center continues, now, for its third decade, having initiated hundreds of young people at the Epirotic Polyphonic Song, offering an advantageous framework from the transmission of the genre, deeply rooted in the polyphonic tradition. This is assisted by the invitation in the seminars of experiential bearers at various occasions, by the good use of the material belonging to the Polyphonic Song Archive for the documentation of the teaching, as well as the students’ active participation at the Big Polyphonic Song Celebrations, the “Polyphonic Song Day”, the Seasonal and the Big Polyphonic Caravans.
The annual function of the workshop is articulated in three semesters, starting from the first Thursday of October and lasting until the end of June. The workshop participants present the fruits of their apprenticeship each June at the final event of the Center, while every year they prepare thematic events dedicated to the different regions of Epirotic polyphony. The participants of each year’s workshop constitute members of the polyphonic group “Polyphono” which has participated in a series of events as well as record editions.
The seminars of the Polyphony Workshop of “Fivos Anogianakis” Center are divided in two different levels, that of beginners and that of advanced students. Regarding the beginners, the initial purpose is their familiarization with the distinctness of the voices, the structure and the composition of a polyphonic group and their fundamental differentiations from one place to another. Regarding the advanced students, apprenticeship focuses on the particular sound (“achos”) of each place, through two-month seminar cycles each dedicated to another place. At all levels, the familiarization with the anthropological context of the polyphonic song, the collectivity in expression as well as ethos are of fundamental importance.
The Epirotic Polyphonic Song is transmitted in the framework of the Polyphony Workshop as a living tradition, far from musealization and folklore, as a genre with a particularly contemporary content of values, the collectivity through solidarity and otherness. The commitment to the documentation of the interpretation, the respect to the sound (“achos”) of each village, are connected to the encouragement for a collective improvisation and creation.