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Chicago: More than 1,000 people were on hand at Chicago’s Harris Theater to experience an outstanding evening of traditional Greek “Rebetika” music featuring George Dalaras, Greece’s biggest-selling recording artist in history, at a benefit concert of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago’s Saint Iakovos Camp and Retreat Center.

Proceeds totaled almost $100,000 from the evening as donations and additional support continues to come in from what many described as a truly “memorable experience.”

Dalaras performed a wide array of songs from the rebetiko genre— songs compared to blues, that evolved from the trials and tribulations of the Greek people— primarily refugees from Asia Minor in the early 1920s. The concert included a valuable history lesson, as Dalaras walked the audience through the evolution of Greece’s rich musical heritage, while paying tribute to great composers like Vasilis Tsitsanis, Markos Vamvakaris, and others.

In a special dedication, Dalaras shared songs from the early 1930s that were well-known to the audience, but much to their surprise, were actually first written and composed in Chicago’s Greek immigrant communities.

“Many of the old Greek songs you know and love were actually born right here in Chicago, and in New York and elsewhere in the United States, by singers who left Greece and emigrated to America. They eventually made their way back to Greece, where they became classics,” Dalaras told the audience.

Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Metropolis Chancellor, noted that the fulfillment of the concert was a two-fold success.

“We shared a beautiful and rich cultural experience for more than a thousand people who came from throughout the Midwest to sing old songs from their upbringing, while simultaneously raising vital funds for an important ministry of the Metropolis— the camp and retreat center where future generations of our youth will be able to gather,” His Grace said.

Photographs of the event may be found by following this link

Photographic credit: Elios Photography © 2014