From the left in the back row: Monique De Wispelaere (Belgium), Miriam Meijer
and Nellie Piepenbrock (Holland), Antoine Gansbeke (Belgium), Aaron Bouschor (Montana),
Christoph Aebi (Switzerland), Andrea Dolfino (Italy), Paul Biesta (USA).
In the first row from the left: Antonio Savi, Eros Ferrari, Paola Pigozzi,
Thomas Krismer (all from Italy). - Photo © Marinella Cutuli


by Christoph Aebi (Switzerland)

What a fantastic experience!! I couldn't have thought of a better place for a meeting with other Leonard Cohen devotees. For me it was like entering a completely different world for a few days. The biggest difference was that there are no cars on Hydra, which makes it such a quiet place far away from the hectic of the city I normally live in; apart from fighting cats in front of the hotel room window or the church bells at 7 in the morning.... But the hotel itself was a bijou which felt more like a family home and the hosts were charming. And so were the other people on the island. No ripping-off tourists.. It was fantastic to meet so many LC fans, people to whom you didn't have to explain who Leonard was and it was exciting to see that HE seems to have a large following of all age ranges...

The program Jarkko and the organising comittee had set up for us was fantastic: From the exhausting monastery walk (but rewarded with a fantastic view over the island), to the barbecue in a lovely bay, the Sunset diners (oh how I loved that food!!) and the get-togethers at the town hall: It was the first time I had the chance to see a LC concert although it was just on video. The professional performers were all FANTASTIC: Yasmine's version of "First we take manhattan" was superb (I'm already waiting for her album in 2004...), Jan Erik Lundqvist showed that Ls songs sound as good in Swedish (Jag vill ha dig, vill ha dig...tag min vals) and Suzanne Holland brought me to tears with her interpretation of "By the rivers dark"....but there were also some gifted singers to discover in the Open Mic Sessions..I only say "Chelsea Hotel"... Brief, to go to Hydra was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I'm already looking forward to the next gathering...why not on Hydra again !!

From the left: Katerina Tsiompanou, Demetris Tsimperis,
Georgios Mitas (all from Greece), Lawrence Salloum and
Filomena Trindade (Quebec) - Photo © Michael Wolkind

Magical Moments

by Georgios Yorgos Mitas (Greece)

I first visited Hydra at the age of 13, with my parents, back in 1979. The exquisite atmosphere and the extraordinary beauty of the place captured my senses and imagination immediately. I promised myself to come back and come back again. I kept my promise - it was not difficult; I was living in Athens, no more than 3-4- hours journey away.

A couple of years later I was introduced to Leonard Cohen's music by a very special friend, Nikos, who is currently living in London. He gave me a tape where I could hear the ladies (Suzanne and Marianne) calling, as well as The Partisan, through a Sleepy Golden Storm. My life changed. Leonard's songs intervened in it, enhancing her with a vision of unspeakable beauty and indeterminate expectancy of happiness. I knew that it would be for ever - for a lifetime.

Sometime in the mid-80's, having my imagination totally captured by the witchery of the back-cover photograph of Songs From a Room LP (like so many have before), and investigating the story behind it, I found out that the black and white seducer was born under the pearly light of Hydra, where Leonard has spent years of his life back in the '60's. So beloved Hydra had guest Leonard himself and his vision of beauty. I had another reason to love her.

I was fortunate enough to watch the Great Canadian performing live in Lycabetus Hill in Athens in 1988 (the same place where a year later I saw the excellent live performance of the Dutch band The Nits). A dream had come true.

And then, two years ago, another special friend, Andreas, who is currently living in Athens, introduced me to Jarkko's Leonard Cohen Files. And all of a sudden, all came together: the island, the dreamers, the pilgrims on a boat, even Lorca and Leonard (physically or spiritually, it did not matter): and this long solitary passionate relationship became a part of a fete, with hundreds of companions taking part. And I knew - again - that it had to go on...

Magical Moments... Thanks Jarkko, Demetris, Lawrence, Filomena, Katerina, Evelyn, John, Margret, Suzanne, Ulla, Hansen, Julia, Dick, Daffydd, Maria, Heather and everybody else for the precious time. You know my love goes with you as your love stays with me... Our steps will always rhyme - See You In New York!