In 2011 we were presented with a remarkable opportunity to take on the interior restoration of a 13th century Venetian tower in the crumbling castle of Akrotiri, Santorini. We aimed to create a workshop, exhibition and performance space to showcase our beloved instrument—the Greek bagpipe—the tsabouna.
In 2012 we managed to do just that. In the tower’s main chamber we created a unique exhibition of Greek bagpipes that highlighted the skilled craftsmanship of makers from Santorini and the Aegean region. The main chamber also hosted Yannis’ daily musical presentations and La Ponta’s highly successful evening concert series. On the second floor we created a workshop, where Yannis constructed the tsabouna and a wide range of Greek wind instruments, and passed his skills on to others.
Our work in the tower gained pace as we invited local school children to participate in workshops and reconnected locals with their shared musical past, helping to revitalize a valuable island tradition. Global travelers also flocked to the tower and over the next five years our work at La Ponta received coverage from ET3 (Greece), OTE History (Greece), BBC Scotland, National Geographic Traveller, Songlines Magazine, VIV2 (Vietnam), NDR (Germany), RAI 3 (Italy) and TV5 (France), to name but a few. La Ponta’s revival of the tsabouna on the island of Santorini brought the traditions of the past into the present and made them accessible to a broad audience.
Last year, at the height of our success, we received the news that our lease in the tower was not going to be renewed. We soon seized on an opportunity to purchase new premises in the village of Megalochori, a 605 square meter turn of the century winery that had lain empty for fifty years. When we entered our new premises we were struck by the nine holes suspended above the main entrance, a beautiful remnant of the architect Saliveros’ vision. And we thought: Here are the nine muses that can guide our vision and inspire our guests to new heights of listening, engagement and understanding. And so, in 2018, we begin a new era in the village of Megalochori at Symposion by La Ponta.
Argy Kakissis & Yannis Pantazis