REVMA performs music from a wide spectrum of Greek traditions, ranging from lively island dances to mesmerizing polyphonic ballads. This quartet of virtuosos are in constant demand for Greek American community events in the Boston area, where they play for both listeners and dancers.
The group’s leader Sandy Theodorou, who sings and plays the accordion and the laouto (long-necked fretted lute) was born in Pireas, Greece. Her family immigrated to the United States when she was two. Although she had been part of a Greek dance ensemble, it wasn’t until she visited her family’s homeland as an adult that she became serious about performing traditional Greek music. “Experiencing the music in the villages, I realized that the music, the dancing, and the stories all go together,” she says.
Her father’s family hails from Epiros in Northwestern Greece, a mountainous area by the Albanian border where the music uses a pentatonic scale. Often performed by musicians of Roma descent, this music is heard at panegyria, festivals of both celebration and mourning. Theodorou’s mother traced her roots to the island of Kefalonia. “It is next to Italy so the music has more Western scales. Like many islands, the music has a lighter sound, with the ocean a frequent lyrical theme,” says Theodorou.
The group also incorporates songs from the urban rebetiko and smyrnaiko traditions, which are often compared to the blues because of their tales of poverty, drug addiction, migration, and loss. These tales of dislocation resonate with Theodorou, whose grandfather had to flee his hometown in a cheese barrel during the Greek Civil War. “Although my family’s history might be specific to me, the music I play also feels very universal when these songs talk about love and separation,” she says.
REVMA is named after the Greek word for current. “It can be a river current, or an electrical current. It’s something that moves while still being connected to where it came from,” Theodorou says. The group also includes Rohan Gregory (violin), Fabio Pirozzolo (percussion), and Mark Pattison (guitar, tzoura, baghlama). In Lowell they’ll be joined by dancers from Boston Lykeion Ellinidon.