[Cover photo credit to Melanie Marsman, photo of Isokratisses with Christopher C. King]
Third Man Records has announced the upcoming release of Cry With Tears: Greek-Albanian Songs of Many Voices, a first album of Greek-Albanian polyphonic songs performed by the all-female vocal ensemble, Isokratisses. Produced by Grammy Award-winning producer, musicologist, archivist, and author Christopher C. King (Lament from Epirus: An Odyssey into Europe’s Oldest Surviving Folk Music), the collection is previewed by the single “On Deropoli’s Plain.” Cry With Tears: Greek-Albanian Songs of Many Voices arrives on Friday, October 14th.
The name Isokratisses is Greek for “women who sing the iso” (or drone), and the group is a vocal ensemble of eight women who carry on the ancient tradition of polyphonic songs from Epirus, a region in northern Greece and southern Albania. Born and raised in the Greek-speaking villages around Deropoli and Politsani in Albania, the women of Isokratisses have sung these songs since childhood.
Cry With Tears: Greek-Albanian Songs of Many Voices celebrates the communal nature of polyphonic singing, “reasserting the primacy of female voices in the southern Balkans while revitalizing the art”. The polyphonic songs of Epirus are part of an ancient oral tradition, social music that has long been woven into the fabric of poor, marginalized, and disenfranchised communities. Many of the songs are variations of mirologia – songs of fate, songs of mourning – that were once sung throughout the southern Balkans but have largely disappeared except for Epirus.
The members of Isokratisses meet often in different places to celebrate this unique musical language, including a 2019 collaboration with Christopher C. King at Le Guess Who? Festival in Utrecht, Holland, which was the group’s first-ever performance together outside of the borders of Greece. A series of rare North American performances will be held marking the release of Cry With Tears.
The Richmond, VA Folk Festival on October 8th and 9th.
The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on October 13th.
The University of Delaware School of Music on October 15th.
*Other dates/locations will be announced on the group’s social media.