My road to La Ponta began with an afternoon walk towards the lighthouse of Akrotiri in the spring of 2010. I encountered a house with an adjacent chicken coup enclosed by a wire fence. Much to my dismay, a young chicken was caught in the fence. Instantly, my heart went out to it and I attempted to set it free. As I was afraid I would injure the little chicken, I decided to knock on the door of the house where an elderly woman answered. I immediately exclaimed, “Your chicken is caught in the fence!” The woman gasped and the entire family rushed out. Soon the chicken was free and the family began yelling in chorus, “The chicken, the chicken . . . you saved our chicken!” Graciously, I was invited into their home where I was treated to sweets and tea. I learned that it was the home of Lucia and George Alefragi, and visiting from down the street was Lucia’s mother, Grandma Babia.
The family asked me where I lived, and I told them I lived nearby with my beloved Yannis. I went on to share that Yannis is a musician and composer who plays various woodwind instruments, including the tsabouna, which he also constructs. George told me that he owned an old tsabouna from the island of Tzia but that it was broken, and therefore he had never had the chance to learn to play it.
At the time, Yannis had been researching the tsabouna of Santorini and looking for local players, recordings and stories of the instrument. I was thrilled to come home and tell him that there was a tsabouna just 200 meters away. A few days later, Yannis travelled down the road in great anticipation to meet George and offer to try to fix his instrument. While visiting, he met George's son, Nektarios, and a beautiful friendship was born. As it turns out, Nektarios was very interested in learning the tsabouna, and before long, Yannis had taught him how to play and construct the instrument himself.
The two began meeting at our home regularly to build tsabounas, which was all well and good other than the fact that they were hanging goat skins on my clothesline! We needed a solution.
As our friendship with Nektarios deepened, his generous heart became clear. One day, he brought us to the traditional village of Akrotiri, leading us through the main entrance of the Venetian castle walls and up to the peak where the old tower stands. It was then that he offered the abandoned tower as a location for our tsabouna workshop. The tower has been in Nektarios family for three generations , since grandma Babia. We were deeply honored by his offer and agreed that the tower would be an ideal place to build our instruments. My clothesline was liberated!
As the months went by, my imagination began to wander. What if the tower could be more than just a workshop, but an exhibition space for the tsabounas, as well a place where musicians could gather, musical workshops could be held, and intimate performances could bridge the sounds of past and present.
And so La Ponta began. We have presently established a tsabouna workshop and exhibition. Our aspiration is to preserve the history of the tsabouna and explore new musical frontiers with performers from across the globe.