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Alekos K.

Vretos was born in


Athens in 1976. In 1978 his family
moved to Argos were he grew up. His
father was in love with music so he
took him for piano lessons at the age
of three. That was Alekos' first contact
with music. His first piano teacher was
Mrs. Eleni Apostolaki. At the age of
sixteen he decided that his root in life
should be music. Yiannis Iordanoglou
was the first to open his eyes on what
music and being a musician is really
about.
In 1993, Alekos settled in Athens were he studied classical music with Panagiotis
Adam (harmony) and in the Athenaeum Conservatory. At the same time, because he
was a jazz lover, he enrolled in the Phillipos Nakas Conservatory were he studied
jazz with Markos Alexiou (improvisation), Takis Paterelis (composition and
arranging), Pantelis Benetatos (Jazz piano), Spiros Panagiotopoulos (ensemble
training) and Kostas Baltazanis (improvisation and jazz harmony). In 1995, Berklee
College of Music came to the Nakas Conservatory were it held seminars under the
name "Berklee School in Greece". Alekos won an award for "Outstanding
Musicianship" and the doors of Berklee College were open for him. Soon after that
he won a Phillipos Nakas scholarship for the year 1995.
In September 1996 he enrolled in Berklee College of Music in Boston,
Massachusetts. There he studied as a Jazz Composition major. Some of the teachers
that gave him more insight for music were Vuk Kullenovic (composition), Ray
Santisi (Jazz piano), Dick Lowell (Jazz composition), David Callahan (Conducting),
and Dennis Grillo (Orchestration). During his studies in Boston he performed
extensively as a piano player in jazz ensembles and Big Bands. He graduated in 1999.
A year earlier he took on the ud (Arabic lute) and he fell in love with an instrument
that had nothing to do with jazz but had a lot to do with Greece and the Mediterranean
region. He met the great Master Simon Shaheen that gave him the first steps towards
the Arabic music and ud playing. Alekos considers, Master Shaheen, his mentor and
his musical benefactor. They see each other once a year at Master Shaheen's Arabic
Music Retreat, where Alekos
has attended from 1998-2004.
Of course, Alekos had lessons
with other teachers in Arabic
music such us: Marcel Khalife,
Bassam Saba, Dr Ali Jihad
Racy, Dr George Sawa, William
Shaheen and Charbel Rouhana.
He has attended many lectures in
Arabic music as well and in 2004 he won a gold medal in an ud improvisation and
artistry contest in the U.S.
As a professional he has performed with different ensembles in Greece with great
reviews on his playing and composing. Some of the musicians that he has worked
with as an udist are Yiorgos Despotidis, Nikos Androulakis, Panagiotis Mylonas,
Kostas Thomaidis, Yiorgos Boufidis and others. Also, he has appeared on TV as a
permanent udist in the "Greek Tradition show" in the Hellenic Television for the past
3 years. He has worked in the Music Ensembles of the Hellenic Radio for over two
years as a ud soloist and arranger. He is currently working in the Great Music Library
in the Athens Megaron, as a supervisor in the digitalization of the "Mikis
Theodorakis" archives. He conducted a research in cataloging the same archive in
1998.
Some of his other activities were:
Artistic Director for Music Affairs for the 11th and 16th seminars for microsurgery in
1995 and 2000,
Student supervisor and management assistant in the Berklee music library 1997-
1999,
Cataloger for the Berklee archives 1997-1999,
Award for community service in the city of Boston (Piano teaching for unprivileged
children) 1997,
Assistant speaker for the MLA (Music Library Association) 1998.
Alekos K. Vretos is currently the Music Director for his own ensemble called "The
Meliti Ensemble". Their first release "Yunan" is very promising and they are already
recording the second one.

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