Savina Yannatou by Maarit KytoharjuSavina Yannatou is a Greek singer, guitarist, composer and songwriter. She was born in Athens on 16 March 1959.
Savina Yannatou received classical guitar lessons at a young age and sang in the children's choir of Yannis Nousias for several years. Later she studied singing at the National Conservatory of Athens under Gogo Georgilopoulou and in Spiros Sakka's Singing Workshop. She also studied music theory and guitar. Thanks to a grant from the Mousigetis Foundation, she was also able to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
She began her professional career as a singer during her studies when she sang "Lillipoupoli" under the baton of the famous composer Manos Hadjidakis for the very successful daily programme of the Greek national radio station "Lillipoupoli". Together with him and Nikos Kypourgos, Savina Yannatou released her first album entitled "Edo Lilipoupoli: Music and Songs From the Greek Children's Radio Programme" in 1980. Already in 1981 another recording with the title "Sabotage" with compositions by Lena Platonos followed. In addition to other releases, the album "Nanourismata" followed in 1985, a collection of sleeping and weighing songs.
In addition, she has appeared in works by modern Greek composers such as the opera "Erotokritos and Aretousa" by Nikos Mamangakis, and has also made a name for herself as an interpreter of works from the pre-classical period. Since 1983 she has been working with the Studio für Alte Musik, which performs medieval, renaissance and baroque works on historical instruments.
Due to the collaboration with composers such as Manos Hadjidakis, Savina Yannatou began to deal with modern music at an early stage. Many of her recordings from the 1980s were of an experimental nature, which was reflected in the use of synthesizers and the expressionist use of Yannatou's voice. At the beginning of the 1990s she began to concentrate more on free improvisation, and at times formed a trio with the German bass player Peter Kowald and the Greek clarinettist and saxophonist Floros Floridis.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Savina Yannatou increasingly focused on the interpretation of traditional folk music, culminating in the release of the album "Aniksi sti Saloniki (Primavera en Salonico)" in 1993. With this recording she took up traditional Sephardic songs, as preserved by the Thessaloniki-based cantor David Saltiel. Together with the ensemble Primavera en Salonico, Savina Yannatou created a subtle, reduced work of Sephardic music of timeless beauty with a Spartan instrumentalisation and a sensitive interpretation of vocals. With this album the singer was able to gain a greater impact outside of Greece for the first time. Founded under the direction of Kostas Vomvolos, the ensemble Primavera en Salonico, originally only for this project, remained in existence after that, released its own album, and has since accompanied the singer on numerous other productions.
The musical path was maintained, followed by further albums on which Savina Yannatou interpreted traditional folk music, especially from the Mediterranean, the Balkans and the Middle East.
In the mid-1990s, Savina Yannatou intensified her cooperation with Helen Kontos, a Dutch manager, which paved the way for her to a successful career abroad. With numerous invitations and participations at festivals in Europe, Africa, America and Asia, Savina Yannatou was able to establish herself as a well-known representative of world music.
2003 saw the release of "Terra Nostra", Savina Yannatou's first album about the renowned German jazz and wordmusic label ECM-Records, which helped her to gain further international acclaim. Since then, another 3 albums for ECM records followed until 2015.
All in all, Savina Yannatou has published or participated in more than 20 album productions since the beginning of her musical career. In addition to her work as a solo artist, Savina Yannatou has already composed music for theatre productions, video artists and dance ensembles. She also occasionally conducts selected workshops and teaches vocal improvisations to actors and musicians.


Text: Robert Lippuner / Global Music Network



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