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Diamanda Galas

Internationally acclaimed vocalist, pianist, composer and poet, Diamanda Galás presented her latest work "Defixiones, Will and Testament," for solo voice, piano, and tape. The performance is an angry meditation on genocide and the politically cooperative denial of it, in particular the Turkish and American denial of the Armenian, Assyrian, and Anatolian Greek genocides from 1914 to 1923.

The program "Defixiones, Will and Testament" features selections of work that address man's inhumanity to man, and is concerned with material written by those living in exile: "The Dance," a poem by Armenian poet Siamanto; "The Desert," by Syrian poet Adonis; "Epistle to the Transients," by Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo; "Todesfuge," by Rumanian-Jewish poet Paul Celan; Greek and Armenian rembetika (a form of music brought by Asia Minor refugees from Smyrna down into Greece) and amanedhes (an Asia Minor style of improvisation), including "If I Die on the Boat," made famous by Sotiria Bellou and "Anoixe," by Papaiannou; "Hastayim Yasiyorum," by Udi Hrant; "Artémis," by Gérard Nerval; work by Assyrian poet-martyr Dr. Freidoun Bet-Oraham and the music of the deep South.

"Defixiones" refers to the warnings engraved in lead that were placed by relatives of the deceased on the graves of the dead in Greece and Asia Minor. These warnings cautioned against moving or desecrating the corpses under the threat of extreme harm. "Will and Testament" refers to the last wishes of the dead who have been taken to their graves under unnatural circumstances. Concerned with the poet/author living in exile, either from his homeland or within his homeland, "Defixiones, Will and Testament" speaks for individuals who have had to live as outlaws, and for those who have had to create houses out of rock.

One of the most startling artists of our time, Galás creates haunting gospels of despair, desolation and redemption that leave the audience shaken and transformed. For some, the things of which she sings are too much to bear; for Galás, it would be unbearable to remain silent about them.

Galás treats her piercingly beautiful multi-octave voice as an instrument whose sound defies description, penetrating like wind to the bone, resurrecting the dead in the living. She stands alone by virtue of her extraordinary technical accomplishment and her passionate commitment to the principle that the personal is the political. The themes she addresses are universal-a ferocious grieving of real and immediate loss-taking material from a wide variety of cultures and eras. The sorrow of which she sings addresses in chilling recollection, man's inhumanity to man, songs of life and death, redemption and damnation, of human pain and suffering which is experienced directly by the audience.

Raised in San Diego, Calif., Galás was born to Greek Orthodox parents, who always encouraged her gift for piano. Galás studied a wide range of musical forms, as well as visual-art performance, and then moved to to Europe where she made her performance debut at the Festival d'Avignon in France in 1979, performing the lead in the opera, "Un Jour Comme un Autre," by composer Vinko Globokar, based upon the Amnesty International documentation of the arrest and torture of a Turkish woman for alleged treason.

Releasing her first recorded work in 1982, Galás' numerous musical and theatrical works include the pivotal "Plague Mass" (1990), the haunting mass for People with Aids, “Vena Cava”(1992), the solo voice and electronic work concerning AIDS dementia and clinical depression, "Schrei 27" (1996), which deals with torture in isolation, and the concerts/recordings of "Malediction and Prayer," (1998), "Judgement Day," “Concert for the Damned,” and "The Masque of the Red Death" (1984 - 1988). Galás is currently working on the composition and commissioning of the opera "Nekropolis."

Diamanda Galas stopped off at The Sage Gateshead in 2005.

Visit her website at




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