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date: 16 November 2019

Kementzides, Ilias locked

  • Catherine Wojtanowski


(b Nikolinka, Kazakhstan, April 2, 1926; d Norwalk, CT, Nov 11, 2006). Lyra player of Kazakhstani birth. Born to Pontic Greek parents, he began at age eight playing the lyra (a bottle-shaped violin with three strings), taking lessons from his uncle. In 1940 his family moved to Greece, where he became a professional musician, mainly performing at social clubs and theatres. In 1974 Kementzides immigrated to the United States with his wife and children. They lived in Norwalk, Connecticut, where he worked in an electronics factory. He continued to play lyra as a soloist—a distinctive break from the traditional three-piece ensemble—and made his own instruments. He was also recognized for his compelling, expressive voice. Performing from memory, he typically sang in the Pontic dialect but was also fluent in Greek, Turkish, and Russian. In addition to performing at dances, weddings, community gatherings, and religious occasions in Connecticut and New York, he participated in cultural festivals and national Greek music tours. In ...

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