In 1922, the light of cosmopolitan Smyrna was extinguished by war. 93 years later, her light returns with the power of music, faith, and friendship…

The documentary Journey Through Smyrna by Greek-American filmmaker Chrysovalantis Stamelos presents the coming together of young Greek and Turkish musicians with a view to reviving a music genre that has been long forgotten in the modern city of Izmir, Turkey but still kept fresh and relevant in the collective memory of the Greek musical culture.

Six Greek and three Turkish musicians, 9 men and a woman, get creative, communicate, discover, express and find their own expression, travel and take us traveling to Izmir, Athens, Alexandria, Thessaloniki, Istanbul, Piraeus. Cities giving out the fragrance of history. 19th and 20th century. Times of turmoil and upheaval. Times of separation. 21st century. Same places. Similar people. Time for get-togethers.

One Turkish and two Greek musicians, Evrim Atesler, Aris Konidaris and Mihalis Bakalis, friends, colleagues and almost… relatives by now, amidst sea dives on both sides of the Aegean, internet sessions, and live performances, had been talking for months about gathering their friends, Greeks and Turks, from both Aegean coasts, and start playing together the music they love, that music that has brought them closer to each other and has reminded them of their common roots. Said and done! And here it is, ready, brand new and shiny, dashing, lively and youthful the New Band, in other words, NEABANDA.

The Catastrophe of Smyrna destroyed much of the city; in great part its Greek Christian community and the traces of their centuries-old culture. Many of those who escaped the ravaging fire saw their last moments on the city’s waterfront known as the Smyrna Quay. This site holds great significance for those that hold roots to the city unshaken over the past century.

In 2015, 93 years later, the light of that community, along with its language and heritage, will be reignited through the power of music, faith, and friendship with Greek and Turkish singers and musicians who will hold a first-ever live concert on the Smyrna Quay, celebrating the city’s culture.

In addition, Stamelos will be documenting the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit and journey to the city where the first ever Greek Orthodox liturgies in the remaining church of Izmir will be celebrated. This liturgy will act as a great symbol of re-igniting the city’s Greek Orthodox community and heritage in hopes of creating a new beginning of religious freedom and tolerance within the Aegean region.

Journey Through Smyrna is a continuous journey of unveiling the historical richness of Smyrna and Asia Minor, while building a bridge between Greek and Turkish cultures on an international platform, all with the aim to enrich the cultural heritage through film and music. The following aims are:

  • To document the historical neighborhoods of the city which bear the names of several songs in Rembetiko and Smyrneika.
  • To document the historical Greek Orthodox liturgy which will be held in the city’s only remaining Orthodox Church of Smyrna (Agios Voukolos).
  • To document the collaboration of amazing and talented Greek and Turkish musicians and singers.
  • To document the entire concert performance and distribute it to international audiences To record the concert and distribute the music internationally online and on CD.
  • To build ties between cultures and people with this project, which will act as the catalyst for many more events to come.
  • All of these documentations will be presented on film and soundtrack.