Uproot: Music from Asia Minor

Be transported, enchanted and entranced by music from a long-lost land

Asia Minor was a thriving cosmopolitan center for Hellenic life since ancient times. Port cities like Constantinople (Istanbul) and Smyrna (Izmir) had rich musical traditions that reflected their diverse populations: Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Arabs, Gypsies, Jews and Europeans.

But during the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Greece and Turkey went to war, leading to the genocide and expulsion of Greeks in what is known as the Asia Minor Catastrophe. In the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, Greece and Turkey resolved to end their disputes by making their nations ethnically and religiously “pure.” Greek Orthodox Christians living in Turkey were forced to move to Greece, and in turn Turkish Muslims in Greece were sent to live in Turkey. The resulting 1923 Population Exchange uprooted 1.6 million people across the region and is considered an act of ethnic cleansing.  

A century later, the Greek Chamber Music Project commemorates this historical moment with songs and stories from Asia Minor leading up and in response to the population exchange. Titled Uproot, GCMP performs modern arrangements of Greek music from the region, celebrating this vibrant musical heritage and capturing the refugee experience through song. Uproot weaves histories and personal stories throughout, generating a universal dialogue about the impact of forced migration and building a bridge to the experience of modern-day refugees.


“About half the songs in our ‘Uproot’ program focus on the pain around the refugee crisis,” says Ganelin. Others celebrate the immigrants’ lifestyle and loves with both ardor and humor. Of the 12 songs (all sung in Greek), some are traditional, some composed, and with two exceptions they’re all arranged for chamber ensemble by Ganelin. 

San Francisco Classical Voice by Jeff Kaliss – January 27, 2023

A century ago, my family were among the many Greeks living in Smyrna who had to flee their cosmopolitan city under seize, known as the Asia Minor Catastrophe. Uproot features treasured love songs from before the catastrophe, as well as songs of longing and displacement in response. Many tunes will be familiar to fans of the rembetiko tradition, but with an entirely new sound,” Ganelin continued. “Every song is lovingly arranged by myself, as well as by a few guest arrangers. This is my most personal program to date, and one that brings me close to my ancestors.

The National Herald – December 3, 2022


Old First Concerts

Friday, February 3, 2023 at 8pm

1751 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA and Live-Streamed

Admission: $20-25

This performance is made possible in part by the generous support of Dr. Alexi Exuzides.

Sacramento State University

Friday, February 10, 2023 at 7pm

Hinde Auditorium • 6000 J St, Sacramento, CA

Admission: Free

Sponsored by the Hellenic Studies Program at Sacramento State University

St. Paul Lutheran Church

Sunday, February 12, 2023 at 4pm

1658 Excelsior Ave, Oakland, CA

Admission: $20-25

Katerina Clambaneva, vocals
Ellie Falaris Ganelin, flute
Lewis Patzner, cello
Jonathan Alford, piano


Katerina Clambaneva, vocals
Lewis Patzner, cello
Jonathan Alford, piano (Feb 12)
Ellie Falaris Ganelin, flute & arrangements
Elektra Schmidt, piano (Feb 3 & 10)

About the Artists

Katerina Clambaneva, vocals

Katerina Clambaneva specializes in traditional and contemporary Greek music and performs internationally, throughout Europe and the United States. She is captivated by world music and is very interested in cultural fusion through musical expression. She has a versatile voice and enjoys singing in a multitude of languages.

Katerina maintains a busy performance schedule participating in several groups including, PAKAW!, Plastikes Karekles, and the Josquin Singers of B.A.C.H. Cities she has performed in include Athens, San Francisco, Oakland, London, Isle of Wight, Ixtapa Mexico, Brussels Belgium, Istanbul, Luxembourg, Mytilini Greece and counting. Favorite venues include the National Theatre in London, the Green Note in Camden, ODC Theatre in San Francisco and 1002 Nihtes in Athens.

Career highlights as a vocalist include the dance production of Rebetiko with Yannis Adoniou’s KUNST-STOFF and music by Minos Matsas, with shows in Berlin and San Francisco and the film score for the Spanish film De Tu Ventana a la mia directed by Paula Ortiz with music composed by Avshalom Caspi.

Katerina was born in San Francisco and raised in Athens, Greece. After completing her Bachelor of Arts in Classical Civilizations from UC Berkeley, she built her career in Arts Administration and Marketing. She has been living in London since 2009, where she completed her Masters in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Music at City University and currently works as a performing arts manager.

Ellie Falaris Ganelin, flute

Ellie Falaris Ganelin is a flutist and music director who is classically trained and welcomes other traditions into the fold, including jazz, Latin, Balkan and klezmer music. She is active as a performer of chamber and orchestral music in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is committed to making classical music inviting and accessible for all as an ambassador and performer for the Awesöme Orchestra Collective. For the past decade, she has been the director of the Greek Chamber Music Project, which aims to inspire, educate and challenge audiences through innovative programming. Ellie received her B.A. in Music from the University of Maryland, where she also holds a B.A. in Journalism and a Minor in French.

Lewis Patzner, cello

Lewis Patzner is a cellist and composer from Oakland, CA, and received his Bachelor’s degree from Peabody, studying with Amit Peled, in 2007. Lewis plays all styles of music and has an extensive list of recording credits, including recently as the featured cellist on the score for the Oscar-nominated film, “Can You Ever Forgive Me.” His past groups include Judgement Day (founding member), Whiskerman (founding member), and La Dee Da. He currently plays with the Town Quartet, Cosa Nostra Strings, Proteus Trio, Musical Art Quintet, and Ariel Wang. 

Elektra Schmidt, piano

Award-winning pianist Elektra Schmidt performs as a solo artist and in chamber groups in the United States as well as France, Greece, and the United Kingdom. She has had the good fortune to work with such visionaries as Marios Papadopoulos, Neil Immelman, Theodor Paraskeveku, the Ganev duo and others. After graduating summa cum laude from the National Conservatory of her native Greece, Elektra pursued her post-graduate studies in Paris at the Schola Cantorum and the Conservatoire Raoul Pugno under the guidance of distinguished pianist Lilia Boyadjieva. Elektra is the founder of Artist Migration, an organization dedicated to the integration and mobility of international artists. Elektra has been on the panel as adjudicator in the United States Open Music Competition since 2017.

Jonathan Alford, piano

Pianist Jonathan Alford is a mainstay of the San Francisco Bay Area music scene. Along with legendary Cuban timbalero Orestes Vilato, he co-led Azesu, a group that the Healdsburg Tribune said “lays down a new marker for Latin Jazz.” Alford has also  played with John Santos and Machete Ensemble, Santana, Chocolate Armenteros, and many other Latin greats as well as Bobby Hutcherson, Maria Marquez, and John Stowell. Jonathan leads the Proteus Trio with Grammy-winning artists Evan Price and Lewis Patzner. Andrew Gilbert of the East Bay Times has said ‘Proteus Trio brings together three of the most versatile and adventurous musicians in the Bay Area. Proteus doesn’t so much ignore genre conventions as embrace every musical practice.” Jonathan has performed at many festivals including the San Francisco and San Jose Jazz festivals, as well as at venues worldwide. He is currently focusing on composing and is releasing a new CD of original work with cellist Lewis Patzner.