Meet the GTC Moderators

George Hohlakis

George started playing at the young age of 13 by taking private lessons and playing in the school orchestra. While this was a good way to start, George had his sights elsewhere. He had a burning desire to learn and play Greek music. This became a life-long obsession for him. Because of this obsession, he has performed with the most prominent musicians and bands in the Midwestern United States.

His first band was called the “Aithonakia” which he started when he was fifteen years old. At sixteen, he was recruited to play klarino by the well-known band “Evzonakia.” In 1968, George fulfilled his patriotic duty and served in the Viet-Nam war where he was wounded in action and honorably discharged. Through all this, his thirst to become a top-flight clarinetist kept growing as time went by.

George went to Greece for an extended visit with the great world-renowned clarinetist Vassili Saleas. This experience put the shine and finishing touches on George’s playing that has accompanied him throughout his life. When he was 30, he started the famous band called “Fantasia.” Through the years, most of the top talent in the area played with George and this band. Players like John and Pete Politis, Gus Haralambou, Lefteris Tsilimou, Sotiris Noussias, Haris Sevastopoulos and Makis Hohlakis all had major roles in making Fantasia one of the top names in Greek music throughout the Midwest.

George has since dissolved Fantasia after a record 25 years in service to the Greek-American communities of the Midwestern United States. He is now free-lancing with many bands throughout the country and often flies to gigs that are more than a few hours drive. He has since focused his playing on a more traditional venue. Tsamika, kalamatiana, syrta, tsiftetelia, are what made Greece’s history and that is what we should never for

John Pappas (Yiannis Papayiorgas)- Information
(Greek Dance, Music, Costume, and related Folklore)
Greek Folk Music and Dance

John Pappas is a retired college teacher (tenured professor) of English at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, where he taught English and Folklore, as well as Greek Civilization, and Greek Folk Dance. He also coached the men’s varsity soccer team for 16 years. Mr. Pappas’s experiences with dance and music have been intertwined since he was a child. He learned many Greek dances at home from relatives and friends as a part of growing up. He began playing floyera with his great uncle, Thodoris Pappayiorgas, when he was about eight or nine years old, and the bouzouki when he was about fifteen years old. (His first bouzouki was made in 1910 and used to hang on the wall of the coffee house (kafenion) that his father once owned.) He started playing klarino around 1962.
John Pappas began teaching Greek folk dance professionally about 1965 in San Francisco, California. Since then, he has taught numerous classes and courses for various organizations and schools including all the major folk dance camps throughout the United States and in Hawaii, Canada, and Mexico. He taught college classes in Greek dance for several years at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.

John specializes in playing the bouzouki and the klarino (Greek Albert system clarinet, usually in the key of C). He also plays: floyera, karamoudza, gaida, lavouto, baglamas, sandouri, daouli, and other Greek folk instruments. He has had his own Greek folk orchestra and played professionally for the Greek community since 1962. His first band was the "Meraklides."

In 1971, he and his brother reformed the group and chose the name "T'Adelphia" which means "The Brothers." The band includes John’ s wife Paula and his son Stathi. They play the village music of their own region (Arkadia) as well as music from other mainland, island, and seaport areas. John Pappas has performed all over the western part of the United States from San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, to Seattle, Washington, Salt Lake City, and Denver. He also played for the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.. The band performed for the Western Regional Folklife Festivals in San Francisco (three times), and for the Northwest Folk Music Festival in Seattle in 1989. John also has been Musical Director for several shows of Greek Dances.

John has produced several recordings. His latest recordings are three CD's of traditional regional folk songs and dances from all over Greece (KAL 001CD, KAL 002 CD, KAL 003 CD, KAL 004 CD). Also, he has written several folk music and dance articles, dance descriptions, and a book on Greek ethnic dances. John Pappas’ experiences and knowledge in both Greek music and dance provide him with a depth and breadth of understanding of styles and repertoire that is unique.

Merlin Shepherd

Merlin Shepherd(Brighton, UK) specialises in the Jewish instrumental folk music of Eastern Europe commonly known as  Klezmer. He has worked as Music Co-ordinator for KlezKamp, KlezFest London and taught at KlezFest St Petersburg, KlezFest Ukraine and KlezKanada. He is one of the world's leading players of traditional East European Klezmer Clarinet style, and apart from his own ensembles he has worked and toured throughout Britain and Europe with Budowitz, Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars and Aaron Alexander’s Midrash Mish-Mosh.Also with Boban Marcovic Orkestar, Luigi Cinque and Djivan Gasparian.

Has been Musical Director for The Royal National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London. He was also Klezmer Advisor for the Royal Shakespeare Company for their 1992 production of Anski’s  The Dybbuk.


Nikos Koulouris

Born in the Cretan traditional family in the Greek diaspora in the Czech republic. He grew up with strong feeling to traditional music and since his childhood he listened to Cretan folk song at home. Since the age of 15 he started to play saxophone and later on he became a professional musician in the one of the most famous Czech pop groups called Krystof ( . After few years he took up clarinet to start to play Greek folk music and almost simultaneously he fell in love with Turkish music and started to play Turkish music too. In the year of 2008 he started to write his own songs and founded traditional ensemble Nisos ( with which he played many concerts all around the Europe. Since that time he met and played with many great musicians around the Mediterranean area and has become more and more experienced player. In the year of 2008 he picked up Turkish Ney flute and became more interested in Classical Turkish music, started to visit the town of Istanbul frequently and has been studying from various Turkish masters.


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