Hellenic 5

Music for the Traditional Cultures of Greek People

About Us


The Hellenic 5 was founded by Kostas Sotiropoulos, who was born in Athens, Greece in a little neighborhood called Kallithea. In high school, he rode his bicycle sixteen miles round-trip every afternoon to work as a cleaner at a music school. His pay was not money, but bouzouki lessons from the owner of the school, a master of that eight-stringed instrument.  He had to quit after a year: the long ride was too difficult and getting home at night so late caused arguments with his parents.

But he continued to find ways to study music--especially bouzouki and baglama--with some of the best bouzouki players at the time in Athens.  Two years later, at age 17, he immigrated to Chicago where he had relatives. Within two days he was performing with a local Greek band at a well-known establishment in Chicago's Greek Town.  He soon realized that the Greek music in the States was very limited compared to what he was used to. Within a year he formed The Hellenic 5--the Greek quintet--a band that is trying to be culturally focused as much as possible.

In addition to performing, Kostas has also written songs and instrumental compositions featuring the bouzouki, many of which receive regular radio airplay worldwide and have been sung by some of the best Greek singers. Hellenic 5 is in the process of recording an album featuring Kostas’ compositions.

Hellenic 5 specializes in music for the traditional cultures of Greek people; their extensive repertoire includes traditional folk dance music, to the contemporary music heard in Athens today.  Hellenic 5 has performed at a variety of venues in Greece and throughout North America and, in their hometown of Chicago; they regularly play for many Greek restaurants and events as well as at local nightclubs and festivals. The Hellenic Five is in demand backing up singers and dance groups that come to the United States from Greece and they have performed in tribute events for Melina Mercouri, Yiannis Ritsos and Stelios Kazantzidis.

Hellenic 5 is a band with a social and civic conscience; they play for many charitable organizations and benefits such as The Leukemia Society and The AIDS Foundation and are especially responsive to requests to play to help raise money for children from Greece and other countries abroad that need operations and/or transplants.

At the 2006 Great Lakes Folk Festival, in addition to founder Kostas, Hellenic 5 will include Kostas’ uncle Vassilios Sotiropoulos (vocals), George Marks (piano and keyboards), Bill Demis (bass, guitar and bouzouki), and Peter Mestousis (percussion), and Jim Stoynoff (clarinet), who also serves as the curator and coordinator for Chicago’s Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center exhibit of Greek Music, instruments and discography.

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