Feature: Anogia's Musicians

Anogia is known for its stirring music and is the birthplace of a large number of Crete’s best-known musicians. The main instrument is the lyra, a three-sided, pear-shaped string instrument played sitting down and often accompanied by lutes and guitars. Local boy Nikos Xylouris (1936–80) took the world by storm with this instrument and his handlebar moustache, and is still considered Crete’s best singer and lyra player more than 30 years after his death.

Nikos’ somewhat eccentric brother Psarantonis (b 1942) took over the reins and still has an international following for his haunting voice. A third brother, Giannis (Psarogiannis), is Greece’s most accomplished lute player.

Psarantonis’ charismatic son, Giorgos Xylouris (Psaragiorgis; b 1965), followed in his father's footsteps and is known for playing the lute as a solo instrument rather than in its traditional accompaniment role. Giorgos’ sister, Niki, is one of the few female Cretan singers. Released in 2015, the Greek film A Family Affair is an intimate portrait of the Xylouris family and their strong connection with traditional Cretan music.

Other notable musicians from Anogia include the lyra players Manolis Manouras, Nikiforos Aerakis, Vasilis Skoulas (son of the folk painter Alkiviadis Skoulas) and Giorgos Kalomiris.

The talented but capricious Giorgos Dramountanis, also known as Loudovikos ton Anogion (Ludwig from Anogia; b 1951), brings his brand of folksy, ballad-style Cretan compositions to audiences all over Greece. He’s also the director of the annual Yakinthia Festival (www.yakinthia.gr), with open-air concerts held in an amphitheatre on a plateau at the foot of Mt Psiloritis about 11km from Anogia for a week in late July.