We had the good fortune of connecting with Giannis Koudounas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Giannis, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
From a very young age, I knew that music had a special place in my heart. Music was one of the few fields that genuinely fascinated me,, and I was always eager to learn, explore and be creative. One of my first contacts with music was when I saw Mike Lovatt, a British Trumpeteer and one of my “trumpet heroes” and now teacher performing on BBC Proms. I was captivated by his beautiful and expressive sound and outstanding performance. That was when I knew I wanted to pursue a similarly successful career as a musician and trumpet player. During my undergraduate studies, I discovered and explored the musical theatre industry, which pushed me into taking new challenges to become a better version of my self as a performer every day. Another reason I chose to pursue an artistic career is that, in music, language barriers are shattered. People can converse and connect while creating meaningful and communicative music together. I love the fact that in some gigs and especially recording sessions, where there are musicians from all over the world, each brings aspects of their culture into their playing, therefore the result is something very unique. Besides, working with such an array of people and settings breaks all locational limits. For example, one day, you might have a gig in London, and the next day might find you in Paris or Vienna (always talking for pre-Covid times) performing in some Parisian or Viennese music halls. You would never experience that working in an office! In music, you never stop learning. Every musician you come across teaches you something new and creative to help you enhance your skills. I became an artist because I never wanted to stop learning and being in a new adventure every day full of artistic inspiration and opportunities to create.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My “art” is all about innovation and in-depth exploration of the music world. Currently, I am excited about my latest project called “The Bell Project”, which aims to expand the classical-contemporary international trumpet repertoire and consequently help both young and emerging composers to showcase their work while providing trumpet performers with a wider range of solo and ensemble works. “The Bell Project” was a personal initiative to commission young composers of various backgrounds to compose unique pieces for me to showcase and record in September 2021. During the creation of the project, I collaborated with a Cypriot designer who hand-sewn two different designs on ecological t-shirts to promote and support the project and also showcase the work of local artists. Getting where I am professionally today took a lot of hard work and courage. I can’t hide the fact that some times I offered my services for free so that I could earn the trust of music directors and producers, and I achieved that because now I am working with several of them here in Cyprus for UK touring musical productions and local shows. Other times I had to have the courage to email people I’ve never met to ask if there are any opportunities for me. Some times, I was just lucky enough to find myself in the right place at the right time and socialise with people who believed in my art. Was it easy? Absolutely not! I am still trying to achieve more and more every day and fulfil my dreams. Especially now that music venues, concert halls and theatres are closed, it is extremely challenging to find the motivation to keep creating. During the lockdown, I took part in some online recording collaborations with Sir Tim Rice, The London Brass Band, Ali Ewoldt and Nigel Richards, which definitely encouraged me to encounter new music every once in a while. The one lesson I’ve learned along the way, especially during the past year, is not to take anything for granted and appreciate every little moment on stage. I remember my last live performance in March 2020, just a week before lockdown, when I was invited on stage by Gileno Santana, one of my absolute trumpet idols, in Vortex Club, London, to play with him, a special moment, I will treasure forever.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am assuming my best friend will be visiting Limassol, my hometown in Cyprus, one of the world’s most beautiful places, especially during summertime. I would take them every morning around 9 am to my favourite spot at the beach where there are hammocks, good coffee and nice music – the absolute relaxation. After a long day at the beach, we would go to the Limassol old town for a beer. Since it would be a week-long trip, we would undoubtedly visit Kourion Ancient Amphitheatre to watch a show and enjoy the majestic scenery and view. Lastly, we would go on a road-trip to the mountains, breathe some fresh air, unplug from the city life and have a delicious lunch in one of the traditional taverns.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I think the biggest “thank you” here goes to my parents, who have been incredibly supportive in every way possible along the way. If it weren’t for their emotional and financial support, I wouldn’t be able to pursue higher education in music. Neither would I be able to experience music in a foreign country outside of Cyprus and open my artistic horizons. My parents are my support, my mentors, my encouragement and my biggest fans of everything I do and achieve.