Giorgos Xylouris




, Greek (Crete)


Giorgos Xylouris, or 'Psarogiorgis', as he is known as on his native island Crete, is a rare example in today’s world of a musician who comes from a vibrant living tradition spanning many generations and who continues to thrive in a unique mountain village where music, dance and poetry are highly esteemed realms of activity. This village, Anogeia, is basically a sheep farming community with a population today of about 2500 inhabitants, which has produced an unusually large number of significant artists, especially musicians. Giorgos grew up in the renowned Xylouris family, under the guidance initially of his father, 'Psarantonis' (Antonis Xylouris), a highly innovative lyra player and composer who Giorgos accompanied for many years. He was also heavily influenced by his two uncles, 'Psarogiannis' (Giannis Xylouris), Crete’s foremost laouto virtuoso of his time, as well as 'Psaronikos (Nikos Xylouris), an outstanding lyra virtuoso and unparalleled singer who, despite leaving this world at the untimely age of 46, left an indelible mark on the music of Crete. To this day, he remains a towering figure commanding the love and respect, not just of all Cretans, but of all Greeks and lovers of Greek music worldwide. In this environment, with the sounds of Cretan music, he quite naturally took to music at a very early age, beginning with the mandolin and later the laouto. At the age of 11, he was already accompanying his father at various social events all over Crete. In the city of Heraklion, he had the opportunity to meet many illustrious musicians who were adept, not only in the field of Cretan music, but also in various other traditions of related interest. He worked for many years in collaboration with Achilleas Persidis, a guitar and laouto virtuoso who had studied various musical styles both within as well as beyond the boundaries of Greek music. Giorgos also worked together with the multi-national Labyrinth ensemble under the direction of the Irish composer and multi-instrumentalist, Ross Daly. His collaboration with Ross Daly and Labyrinth continues to this day as he is one of the foremost members of Labyrinth’s faculty, teaching seminars and master classes every summer at their facility in the village of Houdetsi in Crete.

Giorgos’ early years were filled with the images and sounds of Crete in the 70s and 80s, a particularly exciting time in contemporary Cretan history, bridging distant eras with the modern day. The next period in his life, which was destined to provide him with further enrichment and new perspectives to an already multi-faceted palette of sounds and colours, this time in the multi-cultural milieu of Melbourne, Australia,. It was here that he married his wife, Shelagh Hannan, who is also a musician from an Irish background, with whom they share three children, all of which are deeply involved in music. Australia, at the time where it's open to a wide spectrum of different influences and rapidly developing into a cultural melting pot, gave Giorgos the opportunity to come into contact with a broad selection of musicians from different ethnic backgrounds, as well as from the highly original and innovative scene of contemporary music, which was playing an increasingly significant role on the world stage. He founded the Xylouris Ensemble, which included musicians of various backgrounds from the vibrant scene of Melbourne and recorded several albums. Giorgos’ acquaintance with his musical partner of today, drum master Jim White (from the Dirty Three), also dates to this period.

After a residence of 8 years in Australia, Giorgos and Shelagh decided to return to Crete, where he re-connected with the musical life of the island, collaborating with many different local musicians in live performances and recordings. Apart from regularly performing at social events in the villages, he also participated in many other projects of a more varied and often experimental nature, such as the White Dragon and Iris projects, created by Ross Daly and the Labyrinth Musical Workshop, both of which were performed in 2004 within the context of the events surrounding the Olympic Games in Greece. He also released recordings of duets with his uncle, Giannis Xylouris, as well as with Stelios Petrakis. At that time, a young and upcoming composer and lyra player showing great promise who today is one of the island’s most original and innovative artists.

In 2013, together with Australian drummer Jim White, they formed the duet Xylouris White. They have released three albums to date and have performed in many regions of the world to enthusiastic audiences. Their music works in relatively free forms incorporating all of the timelessness and depth of Giorgos’ traditional background in collaboration with contemporary and even, in some instances, avant-garde elements in a singularly tasteful and balanced dialogue.