Photo by Edris Mohajari

Schoolwave Festival: An oasis for students

A three-day festival called Schoolwave, organised by the team “Schooligans” opened at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center on the 5th of July 2019. Teenagers and young adults who have formed bands playing a variety of music genres, such as rock ‘n’ roll, metal, jazz, traditional etc. took part in this festival. The bands on stage were eager to excite their audience. It was my first time at this and I have never had such a great feeling. I love music, so it was a great experience for me.

The Schoolwave Festival has been held for the past 15 years. When I saw the packed audience I realised that it is really famous and that many people are aware of it and attend it every year. The majority of the audience was about 14 – 19 years old, so it is possible that for some it was also their first time there and that this festival might even be older than them.

When we interviewed Mr. Christos Ioannidis (one of the organisers), he told us about both the easy and difficult aspects of organising the festival: “It is very difficult, but all these enthusiastic kids give us a lot of courage and strength.  All the energy that we give them is returned to us, ten times over.  I, myself, am a teacher, so I understand that it is important for a child in Greece to be able to do what he/she wants.  It’s almost impossible, because all parents and teachers tell the kids “you have to study first, you have to prepare for tomorrow’s lessons”.  But life for a 15-year old teenager is more than that.  Therefore, this festival is important for teens, because it gives them the chance to do whatever they want, right now. They want to play music right now, and that is what they are able to do.

Those children are like someone lost without water in the desert who finds water after several days – they just want to drink and drink. And they won’t stop until they regain their energy.  Mr Christos Ioannidis continued: “Teenagers are very clever and full of energy. This festival will continue for the next 15 or even 30 years!”

We interviewed the first band that got on stage at this year’s festival, the “Blue Hills” band, who play rock music and they said: “Some of us attended the same school and we were friends. We arranged a rehearsal in a local studio and then we decided to form a band.  When we were on stage, we could see the audience becoming excited and we began interacting with them. There were huge amounts of adrenaline flowing and we tried to share this with the people! This music genre allows us to express our feelings and share them with the audience. That’s why we chose this particular type of music”. The “Blue Hills” continued: “We were not nervous before going on stage. Just  our guitarist was a bit stressed, because his guitar was out of tune, but when we fixed that, he too calmed down. We went on stage, saw the crowd and got more motivated so we played even better!”. Finally they told us which their favourite bands were: Guns n’ Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Tool, Black Pistol Fire and Arctic Monkeys.

Later we interviewed the band “Gis Madiam”, who play traditional Greek music. They told us how their band was formed: “We started when we were 16 years old. Our school, which is a music school, gave us the chance to play in a festival, and we have been together ever since. We played once before at the Schoolwave festival, last year, but this time was better. We enjoyed it very much. We felt free when we were on stage! The audience knew us from last year and it was amazing. Words cannot describe our experience!”. We asked them why they prefer to play traditional music and they explained: “We live in a small city, in Serres, where people love traditional music. We like it too and wanted to preserve it and make it known to the world.”  Their favourite bands are Encardia and a Greek band called Ainte Psila Psila, who have also helped them.

From the very first moment I arrived at the Schoolwave Festival, I felt something that I have never experienced before. This unique feeling was was as a result of the performances of the youngsters and young musicians. This festival is for teens that are tired of their routine. In this festival, their dreams can come true. I loved the feeling it gave me and I wished it would never end.  I will definitely attend it again next year!

Photos by Edris Mohajari

Merdas Aria