Vangelis Forms Part of My Life

By Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES – It’s a mystery how there are certain people who can influence lives. They weave themselves into peoples’ stories, leaving a never-ending legacy.

Musician Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassíou, known professionally as Vangelis, has passed away; sad news, his music forms part of my life and my writing. He may be one of my best sources of inspiration.

I discovered him thanks to the British movie “Chariots of Fire” (1981), the popularity of this emblematic song  won  him a well-deserved Oscar.

Years later, at the Trianon movie theater I watched a late night show of “Blade Runner”. The copy of the movie being projected was in black and white, and didn’t include the director’s cut, so the ending was different.

I fell in love with it, of course, with its history, handling expressive resources, and blending cinematographic genres. Cinema is a combination of arts, but without the Greek composer’s soundtrack, I wouldn’t have been so bewitched.

I desperately needed to have this music. My belief that chance helps was justified when a friend’s partner, a visual art student, copied for me Ocenaica Themes, Reprise, Portrait and Conquest of Paradiso.

I was happy and listened to it non-stop, it helped me write my own poetry. During those years, I used a Remington Rand portable typewriter, which needed a steady supply of ribbons and paper.

I treasure the anecdotes linked to this famous artist and I remember the exhibition of his paintings at the National Museum of Fine Arts, in Havana, and the great expectation it created.

We went in a group. Immediately, I disliked the paintings, I really didn’t like them at all. There were split opinions, although most agreed with me, that the artist should continue with the bands for cinema, theater and TV and forget about painting.

Back then, Magin, an old lover that later emigrated to Sweden, painted while listening to Vangelis, he gave me Primavera, a canvas with an explosion of flowers and colors, which I’m sad to have lost.

With Carlos (another ex-boyfriend), I would normally go to his rented apartment. I would take my tape recorder and I never forgot to have Vangelis’ cassettes on hand, as his compositions were perfect to make love, cook and relax.

He also emigrated. Before leaving for the US, he told me jokingly: (paraphrasing the movie Casabalanca): “We’ll always have Vangelis.”

Analyzing the tunes, some seem to come from the cosmos, like astral symphonies; others are linked together to Nature, like the sound of water, echoes of the wind.

It’s impossible to find a single definition because they are all rich and complex. His genius lay in his ability to combine music genres.

I can barely describe the sensations they stirred in me, as if they took over my soul.

Music is the art form that brings us the closest to our emotions. I can say that Vangelis contributed to my life work.

Read more from Irina Pino here.