Ilias Kementzides (1926-2006) was a Pontic Greek lyra player. He was born in Kazakhstan, of Greek parents from Sampsunda, Pontos. The Pontic Greeks lived from ancient times in the Pontos area of Asia Minor (Turkey), on the southeastern coast of the Black Sea. The community resettled in Greece as part of the compulsory exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in the early 1920s, but some families also relocated into areas under Russian rule.
In 1940, Kementzides moved with his family to Greece and settled in a small town near Thessaloniki, an area heavily populated by Pontic Greeks, and in 1974 he immigrated to the US. During his 32 years living in the United States, Ilias played at scores of community weddings and christenings, concerts and festivals, and a presidential inauguration. He was a favorite at Pontic Greek clubs, whether in Astoria, Queens or in Norwalk, Connecticut, informally making music for others to sing and dance to and regularly accompanying the vibrant performing groups in the Pontic community. Kementzides received a National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1989.
In honor of CTMD's 45th Anniversary in 2013, we are pleased to present Treasures of the CTMD Archive, a 10-part series of video shorts posted weekly to this page and to CTMD's Facebook site beginning May 1.
Treasures of the CTMD Archive features rare, one-of-a-kind video of leading masters of immigrant music and dance traditions that have been recently digitized from our Archive. Most of the artists presented in this series are (or were) based in the New York metropolitan area. Sadly, a number of these masters are no longer with us, and so the CTMD Archive provides vital, and sometimes singular, documentation of their artistry and traditions.
To view the entire series go to www.ctmd.org/archives.htm