In this lecture, Professor Angela Glaros will discuss aspects of her research on the traditional music of Skyros. A small Aegean island with approximately 3,000 inhabitants, Skyros is well known for its Carnival masquerading tradition. Less well known outside Skyros are the a cappella “table songs” sung at festivals, which form an integral part of the island’s musical heritage, and which many Skyrians regard as endangered. As traditional music on Skyros reflects local history, memory and identity, its performance comments on the nature of community belonging, with sometimes surprising implications.
To speak of Skyrian music, then, is to speak of the Skyrian past, in a nostalgic mode. Such nostalgia, moreover, carries an erotic charge. The deep sense of belonging Skyrian songs carry is rooted in longing, through lyrics that sing of unrequited love, and through the erotic power of the voice itself—power that Skyrians appeared to carefully manage. In light of the gender ideologies at work in and beyond Skyros, women tended to bear the burden of such “management.”
In the field, her goal was simply to understand this complex entanglement of longing and belonging, and the role of women’s voices in performing it. Back in the United States, she faced the challenge of conveying her understandings to those unfamiliar either with Skyros or with Greece, not only in writing, but also in musical performance.
This lecture will include live performance of several Skyrian songs, in order to enter into the sensuous space of singing, listening, and understanding.
Angela Glaros is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies at Eastern Illinois University. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011. Her doctoral research examined gender and traditional vocal music on the Greek island of Skyros. More recently, she has conducted ethnographic research on gender and liturgical chanting in Greek Orthodox communities in the midwestern United States. She is also a vocalist and percussionist, specializing in the musical styles of Greece, the Balkans, and the Middle East.