Manos Achalinotopoulos was born and grew up in Athens he lived with his Asia Minor origin parents. At the age of 9, he started learning to play the flute and clarinet. After finishing high school, he studied Education and then Political Science in Athens University. Since his young age he participated in traditional music performances collaborating with many musicians specialized in this kind of musical idiom, like: Tassia Verra, Chronis Aidonides, George koros, Aristidis Moschos e.t.c. In 1987, he is awarded with the prize of best soloist at the festival of Ithaca, while in 1986 he participates with Greek group at the Pan-Mediterranean Festival of Folklore Music at Valencia in Spain and at Corsica.
In 1991, he was chosen as the best soloist in clarinet to participate at the East - West Musical Meeting and Tour with Peter Kowald, Charlie Mariano, Okay Temiz, Radi Abou Khalil, Daily Ross and others. In 1993, together with composer and lyre player Elias Papadopoulos, he creates the musical group "Ellispontos" and that way organizes various activities (recordings, television and live performances) in Hellas and aboard. Manos Achalinotopoulos has traveled playing clarinet, cawal, shawm and flutes I more than 35 countries all over the world, while participating in concerts and Festivals of a great prestige.
Since 1994 he studied and graduates the Department of Theory of Music and Musicology at the Faculty of Philosophical School in Athens University while at the same time he occupies himself with a lot of research. At the same time he studies Byzantine music, as well a High Studies in Theory of European Music with Michalis Travlos. As of recently, he participated in recordings of the group "IASIS" while he also appeared with them, forming a background music, with his traditional wind instruments at many of their concerts.
He cooperates as a musical and composer:
1. With singers such as: Ch. Alexiou, G. Dalaras, D. Galani, El. Arvanitaki, El. Tsaligopoulou, Nana Mouschouri.
2. With composers and singers such as: D. Savopoulos,Th. Mikroutsikos, M. Theodorakis, Th. Antoniou, N. Drellas, G. Andreou, Chr. Nikolopoulos, N. Portokaloglou and others.
3. With foreigner music composers, musicians and internationally famous singers such as: Ara Dinkjian, Goran Bregovic, Arto Tukbojancian, Okay Temiz, Sushela Raman, Arief Darvish, Peter Kovalt, Ch. Mariano and others.
4. With traditional musicians and singers such as: Ar. Moschos, G. koros, T. Verra, Ch. Aidonides, Artists Vasilaris, P.Loukas-Chalkias and others.
He takes part in concerts all over the world, in more that 35 countries as well as in festivals such as the top Jazz festival of Montreaux (twice in 1999 and 2002), the sphinx Festival of Belgium, the Woomad Festival of P.Gabriel (In London, Spain and elsewhere) in the Jazz Festival of Istanbul, etc. He also wrote music for the theater and the cinema (Kyr, Katsourakis).
In August 2004 he interprets with his clarinet, music of the famous Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis in the opening and closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games of Athens.
Manos Achalinotopoulos is announced by critics, composers and musicologists as the best new generation performer of the Greek clarinet as well as of the clear tradition style and its special idioms thereof as of the Jazz, Balkan Ethnic style with the effects of the West Music.
"I was given the Greek language"
Hyacinth in the ancient myth became a flower in order to continue being for ever alive in some form of life. In the same way the musical language of this country from an experience common to all, alive in everyone’s dialect, it has gradually been transformed to a flower -similar to a talking fountain for the artists-. Not everybody nowadays want to cultivate this flower, but all long to smell it, enjoy its odour, because they know that it pertains something that is theirs, something that is ours. This significant something, derives from the odour and the ways of this country.
Well, the community is still alive! So is the language, with its ornamentation and its songs, maybe changed but living, in the same way clarinets and agile singers are still alive and singing.
Music for this cd was composed in this language style. Unpretentiously, in the same natural way a folk traditional rhyme maker from Crete creates verses in Greek and not in Portuguese.
I don’t defend some kind of nation - centered Hellenic character, I don’t know if this way of expression is Greek, or whether its roots come from Byzantine or ancient Greece, and I don’t car. Simply, this is the way of expression given to us like our mother tongue, this strange sound that came into existence by the soil and the water of this country. Apart from any limits or boundaries, this language is like music. It is called Hellenic period common Greek language. It is widely spoken in multicolored variations from Tunis to India and from Rumania to Egypt.
I don’t know what the term "folklore" means. I don’t understand what the world “ethnic” signifies; neither do I know if artful style originates exclusively from the West and the folk style from the Orient.
Tradition, as I first came to feel it (as a child of 9 years), was given to me by grand father when he was teaching me how to play the clarinet (during that period this kind of musical expression was chased). To me this traditional musical language is not an "old lover's passive sprinter that raises her threatening finger like an old time teacher". My feeling about traditional way of musical expression is exactly the opposite. It resembles a young girl full of juices pleased and sorry, vivid and loving, that dances barefoot on the ground; as being taken by desire to sin, but then again she repents it. Later she falls in love, wishes to break the rules so to live and breathe freely. No concrete use of instruments, any formal orchestration, or particulate musical formation can ensure her essence.
I came to know many traditional instruments players."old wolves" they played even "black eyes" (=traditional Russian song) with clarinet, accordion and guitar, that part of tradition also. Now the herd of the "old wolves" is hiding and the musical style they used (and then was chased) today has become “IN” probably due to the prevailing tendency to like "ethnic" music as well as the general trend to like whatever it is considered "exotic". Without bringing anything new, without any complicated combination of east and west and south. Alexis, who sings two pieces in he present cd, is only 26 years old and not at all exotic or strange. He sings in the musical idiom his parents (that came from Pontos) taught him, wherever he is asked.
The same stands for Christos, who is a cantor in orthodox church music, he is only 27 (has had a long training in Mount Athos) and chants in the aristocratic, artful Greek cosmopolitan way.
These two musicians, like the others of the group are a live example of opinions and attitudes states above. Well, both these musicians were taught mainly by means of oral tradition as it still continues to exist while expressing the people‘s emotions. They both are persons, not individuals.
They express themselves using the living musical idiom of the country not at all foreigner or unfamiliar: this musical idiom exist to give way to a human communication between loving persons: i.e. the truth expressed by the Word of Gods that is not to be forgotten. As Hyacinth derives from his communication between loving people, he loves to infuse sounds that are given the grace to exist by the light, the sun as well as by the particularity of this country. Evenmore, he loves to break the rules (but not the law), and the artistic continuation of language as we perceive it through our senses, our life, our personal experience. Therefore, the garden is still flourishing. Language is alive, person express their truth singing about love, crying, joy, sorrow, deriving, directly from the heart. Anyway, our morals don’t permit us to have any confidence to individualistic artists: we believe in human relations. We believe in exclamations like oh! or aman! That are ours, warm and in the same time familiar, we believe in the language of sabah, and hicaz, (or the second plagal mode, if this relaxes some people), of ragas and of macams. As it seems in the years to come such a musical language may prove to be needed or even considered as a therapy.