Early Musical Career

Christos Papoutsy is a very well-known musicians and orchestra leader. Born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, Chris began his Greek musical career at the age of 12, playing drums and vocals for several years with the Charas & George Orchestra from Peabody, Massachusetts. The Charas & George Orchestra, consisting of two mandolins, guitars, nd drums, performed for several years in Peabody at the Pan-Samian Hall, as well as at dances, picnics and weddings, from Boston to Biddeford, Maine.

It was also in this time-frame that Chris had the opportunity to perform for several years with Kosta Lemanis, noted outi-player. A gentleman with a kind, soft-spoken manner, Lemanis specialized in music from Asia Minor. He also filled in on drums for the legendary guitarist and vocalist Giorgios Katsaros.

In reflecting back upon these early years of his musical career, Chris realizes how fortunate he was to have been able to perform with musicians of such skill and artistic stature.

Ipswich Pan-Hellenic Mandolinata

Chris then became a member of the Ipswich Pan-Hellenic Mandolinata, led by two prominent musicians, brothers Arthur and Fotis Sotiropoulos. Chris has many fond memories of the numerous dances that were held in the hall beneath the church. (He can still recall the delicious aroma of the loukaniko and liver being cooked in that hall with the tiny stage.) During these years, Chris played the drums and performed some vocals. [Early photo at right of Ipswich Pan-Hellenic Mandolinata: (left to right) James George, mandolin; Spiros Aloupis, banjo and mandolin; Fotis Sotiropoulos, mandolin; William Kokoras,accordion; Arthur Sotis, guitar; Andrew Giannukakis, drums]

Ipswich Pan-Hellenic Mandolinata

Chris Coronis Orchestra

In 1960, Chris moved from Haverhill to Manchester, New Hampshire. There he formed his own band, The Chris Coronis Orchestra, with his guitarist Charles Coronis. Also performing with them were Charles Bachi on accordion, Bernie Tibbetts, clarinet, and Dorothy Triantafiliou on vocals (known as the "Orea Dorothea"). The group performed for a number of years throughout New England, including several Ahepa conventions, the most prominent of which was at the Poland Springs Hotel in Maine.

Chris believes that this was the first orchestra to perform both Greek and American music from 1965-1975. He notes that the bouzouki had not yet made its appearance in the New England area, nor had the sound reached the very high decibel levels that later tainted beautiful, sweet, Greek traditional music that Chris and his fellow musicians had played.

[Pictured below left are (left to right) Charles Coronis and Chris Papoutsy; below right are Harvey Tibbetts, Chris Papoutsy, Dorothy Triantafilou,Charles Coronis, and Charles Bachi.]

Chris Coronis Orchestra

The Olympians Orchestra (1955)
The Olympians and the Chris Papoutsy Orchestras

During the late 1980's and 90's, Chris again formed an orchestra. He borrowed a much-used phrase, "one more time," from advertisements for his earlier group: "One more time, how do you say 'shoe' in Greek? Papoutsy! Put on your dancing shoes!" This newly formed group was made up of some of the greatest musicians that ever performed in New England. Gracing the stage together were Fred Elias, violin, Carl Tela, guitar, Chris (Echo) Kasaris, drums, Nick Karatsas, violin, Charles Bachi, accordion, Soc Mitchell and Ernie Coulouras, vocals, and Chris Papoutsy, of course, on bass guitar and drums.

Musicians in the four photographs below, clockwise, from top right: (left to right, back row) Nick Karatzas, Chris Papoutsy, Carl Tela, Ernest Coulouras, (front row) Charles Bachi, Christos Kasarias, Larry Kontos; (bottom right) Elias Hourvodas, Charles Bachi, Chris Papoutsy, Carl Tela; (bottom left) Charles Bachi, Larry Kontos, Nick Karatzas, Carl Tela, Chris Papoutsy; (top left) only one person identifiable--Chris Papoutsy in the back row on the left.


Aristidis Moschos

About this time Chris became friends with legendary Greek santouri player Aristidis Moschos, with whom Chris studied and performed santouri in Athens. Drawing upon his considerable music expertise, Chris developed his own style on this multi-stringed instrument, becoming one of only a handful of musicians worldwide to adapt the western hammer dulcimer successfully to eastern modes of music.

Celebration of Greek Music in America Concert at Harvard University

In 1998, Chris and Fred Elias organized the impossible. Together with Chris's wife, Mary, they planned and implemented a concert at Saunders Theatre of Harvard University with over 70 Greek, Arabic, and Armenian musicians. These accomplished professionals performed to a sell-out crowd of more than 1300. Chris and Fred co-directed the assembled group, leading rehearsals for months to perfect the music for the concert. Billed as the "concert for the ages," the "Celebration of Greek Music in America" concert was a musical extravaganza spanning the generations.

30-piece Hellenic and Near Eastern Musical Society Orchestra

Chris Papoutsy and Fred Elias found the 30-piece Hellenic and Near Eastern Musical Society Orchestra in 1999 as an outgrowth of the singular Harvard concert. This unique orchestra has performed throughout New England and the U.S. Out of their many professional performances, this accomplished group has produced several CD's. One of their recordings features Chris and Fred Elias playing "taximia," or musical improvisations with eastern modes on the violin and santouri.

Vatoussa Choral Group

Another extremely enriching and satisfying musical experience for Chris--and his wife, Mary--has been his development of and support for a youth choral group on the island Lesvos, in Vatoussa. Several songs of this remarkable group can be heard and downloaded from the Hellenic Communication Service website at the URL http://www.helleniccomserve.com/audiofilesdownloads.html, at which location the Hellenic and Near Eastern Musical Society and the Christos and Mary Papoutsy Charitable Foundation have been making available free of charge music scores and downloadable audio files of Greek traditional music.

Musical Family

For his considerable contribution to the field of Hellenic music in America, Chris received the Athenagoras Award in 2001. He credits his mother, Helen Papoutsy, with motivating him to pursue music and acknowledges her steadfast support. It was her own talent and love of music that he inherited. She was an accomplished mandolin performer and teacher, at one time instructing nearly 80 students. And he, in turn, has encouraged his own children to develop their musical talent. His daughter, Andrea, is a music teacher and director of her own music school. Mikel, the youngest of his children, also performs with the 30-piece Hellenic and Near Eastern Musical Society Orchestra, playing guitar and serving as its sound technician. His daughter, Angela, is also a fine guitarist.

Chris likes to sum up musical experience succinctly with a favorite saying, "In music, one must think with the heart and feel with the brain."

Great Dance Halls and Famous Nightclubs

The greatest generation of Greek musicians performed in hallmark venues familiar to those who got married, attended dances and festivals from the early 1950's until today.

Among the more famous of these venues were the Putnam-Thurston in Worcester, Massachusetts, the Eagle Hotel and New Hampshire Motel in Concord, New Hampshire, the Carousel Ballroom in Manchester, New Hampshire, the Pan-Samian Hall in Peabody, Massachusetts, Crystal Ballroom in Andover, Massachusetts, Kings Cross in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Speare House and KOC (Knights of Columbus) Hall in Lowell, Massachusetts. The Shell at Lynnfield, Massachusetts, Frolics in Salisbury, Massachusetts, Nomiega Park (Totem Pole), Newton, Massachusetts, Eastland Hotel in Portland, Maine, and the lively Log Cabin in Biddeford, Maine. Noted Greek musicians performed, too, at famous night clubs of the time, such as the Club Zara, Club Kayam, the Averof and Athens After Dark--all in Boston. In Lawrence, Massachusetts, The Club Tamba and the Baghdad were known for their great performers, whiile the Parkway Cafe and the Athenian Corner in Lowell were the bases at which many of the HCS Hall of Fame musicians performed during the "Greatest Generation" timeframe.

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