SOAS Ad Hoc Rebetiko Band

REBETIKO: Music Without Frontiers

poster for MWF tour


The Famous SOAS Ad Hoc Rebetiko Band is organising a tour to Istanbul, Athens and the Island of Hydra in October 2008. We shall perform Greek and Anatolian music with local musicians in both countries. Performances will be accompanied by public study sessions exploring the cultural roots of the music in our Rebetiko repertoire, and its common heritage. This will take the form of joint seminars in Istanbul, Athens and Hydra.

The band is made up of fifteen professional, semi-professional and amateur musicians based in London. It grew out of  Ed Emery’s seminars at the School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS] and monthly jam sessions in a London pub in Clerkenwell. It brings together Greek, Turkish, Cypriot, and British musicians. Our members of tha bandrepertoire includes music from the Greek, Turkish, Arabic and Jewish musical traditions.

The composition of the band reflects the roots of Rebetiko in the common culture of  the Aegean and Anatolia and Greece. Rebetiko was born at the beginning of the twentieth century out of the emigration and population exchanges that followed the First World War. It sings of hardship, prison, poverty, war and love. It is unsentimental and unromantic but at the same time moving and human. As well as melody and lyric, dance is a vital element of Rebetiko, in particular the Hasapiko of old Constantinopviolin and vocalle and the Zeibekiko of Anatolia. Our performances invariably end in spontaneous dancing by the audience.

The histories of the peoples of the Aegean are often tragic, not least at the hands of each other. Our songs commemorate them. At the same time, by making music together, we celebrate a common heritage and embody hope for the future of this culturally rich and dynamic part of the Mediterranean.

The tour will receive extensive coverage in the British, Greek and Turkish media, with full acknowledgement of our sponsors. The tour will culminate in a major concert in London, as our thank-you to the friends and sponsors who have made it possible.


Some details:


DATE: Friday 10 October:

excursion across the Bosporus to Üsküdar for a musical evening in a restaurant. Bring instruments. E-mail address above for meeting-place details.

DATE: Saturday 11 October:

Seminars on the subject of  Rebetiko and Greco-Turkish musical relations.

Venue: Talimhane Theatre, Taksim Dolapdere cad. No:97, Talimhane, Istanbul.
Time: 14.00 hours. Contributors include: Ali Fuat Aydin, Bülent Aksoy and Ed Emery.

Concert by The Famous SOAS Rebetiko Band.

Venue: Talimhane Theatre, Taksim Dolapdere cad. No:97, Talimhane, Istanbul.
Time: 21.00 hours. An opening event of the 2009 Pera Festival.

DATE: Sunday 12 October

Concert by The Amazing SOAS Rebetiko Band.

Venue: ERTHO Theatre, Lalaşahin Sokak No:40, Feriköy, Istanbul.
Free shuttle from Taksim Square.

Time: 20.00 hours.
Organised by ΜορφωτικόςκαιΚαλλιτεχνικόςΣύνδεσμοςΦερίκιοϊ [Friends of Art and Culture Association of Feriköy]

DATE: Monday 13 October:

Jam session at Balkan Cultural Centre (Koca Sinan Pasa building).
At the intersection of Yeniçeriler and Bileyiciler Streets.
Along from Çemberlitaş.
time: From about 15.00

Waterside musical fish supper at Perşembe Pazar, near Galata Bridge. time: From about 19.00



An article about our tour can be found at

The website for the Hydra conference is:



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