A Mezzo Soprano Struggling for Peace in the Island of Cyprus Who Has a Heart Bigger Than Life.
By Peri Sualp…..
I am sure most of you who love classical music know Katie Economidou very well.
This mezzo soprano who has a heart bigger than life is not only performing in South Cyprus where she resides but also performs in North Cyprus on every possible occasion. Despite my age, I feel so honoured to have the chance to perform with her six times both in North and South sides of Cyprus. She is one of the greatest personalities I have ever met in my life; a kind of person that can be taken as a role model. She is not just a singer on stage – she is a mother, a wife, a devoted friend you might ever want in life and also one of the biggest supporters of unification of the two communities in Cyprus. In her struggle doing this, her only aim is love because according to Katie Economidou love has no boundaries.
Please find below my interview with Katie…
Peri- Hello Katie, It’s always nice to see you. We usually meet for rehearsals and concerts but this time we are together for an interview. Thank you for saving your time for this because I am pretty sure lots of people who know you, would love to learn more about you. I would like to start with this question. What does Katie stand for.
Katie E.- Ekaterini, a name I was given after my grandmother and in honour of St Catherine, whose life was a torture and a miracle at the same time for her beliefs!
Peri– What is your birth date and place?
Katie E– 9th of December, 1959 in Nicosia, where I live till today.
Peri– What is your real education?
Katie E.- Real education is to learn about people and places, to experience life and the whole of Cyprus, especially the Northern part and the Turkish Cypriots I was deprived of for many decades. Now, if you mean formal education, I studied Political Science and Philosophy at the American University of Beirut, Post graduate Diploma in Conflict Resolution/ Human Resource Development in the USA and did a Master of Arts in International Conflict Analysis in the UK, concentrating on the Cyprus Problem between 1950 – 1974. To complete my thesis, I stayed in the north in the year 2000 after a special permission by Mr Denktaş at the time. I’ve studied foreign languages, and I’m a tour guide.
Peri- Wow! All these things sound impossible to fit in a lifetime. Congratulations. We know you are an amazing mezzo soprano, have you had the chance to take any music or singing education in between all the others you have already mentioned?
Katie E.– I did Music Studies at Ethnikon Odeion in Nicosia, took voice lessons in Cyprus and the UK and have of a Diploma in Classical Singing from the UK.
Peri- I am really impressed. But when did you realise that you want to sing?
Katie E– Since childhood. I used to sing at school, later during University years, a hobby I continued till today. The older I get, the more I sing. God help my audiences!!!
Peri– I am sure it’s a pleasure for your audience to listen to you on every occasion. Do you play any instruments as well?
Katie E.- I used to play the flute and the guitar and a little bit of piano.
Peri- Can you also explain your love of music?
Katie E.– It is my way of communicating with myself, with Nature, with others in the Universe. Many times I go out in Nature and sing for the trees, the water, and the living beings around me. Music is the language of the Creation. (I’m not religious).
Peri- How do you describe yourself as a singer?
Katie E.- A very humble amateur who carries a lot in her soul and lets it out through singing.
Peri– Do you have any recent concert plans?
Katie E.- I do all the time, in theatres, but also in unconventional places, bars and streets. Big and small audiences, it doesn’t matter. It’s the heart that counts, and of course correct Music!
Peri– We know that you are a great supporter of unification of the two communities in Cyprus. Does your singing play a role in the help of uniting the two sides of Cyprus?
Katie E.- I am in great support of the unification of all people, and the world. When I was little, after 1963, my father, as a Doctor, used to go to see his T/C patients in areas that were otherwise forbidden or dangerous to enter. I had good memories from these visits. I have dedicated my dissertation to my Father who taught me not to hate “the other side”. I missed a lot the Turkish Cypriots. I am complete when I am with them too. We haven’t been fair to them, nor to ourselves. I feel I am doing my bit towards that end of re-unification. A real one this time, where everybody will be treated fairly and all human rights are respected. My music has taken me places I could never think of, introduced me to people I could never imagine. I just followed my music notes; and my voice too. And they did take me far, in the end they led me home, where the heart is! Music is an Amazing Grace for me. And Grace will lead me home. Music is a very powerful tool, when I founded the Bicommunal Choir together with my friend Salih Oztoprak, I had a dream for it to become the passport of the Cyprus Peace Process to the World.
Peri – Do you think your (and others’) efforts will succeed one day?
Katie E.– Yes, the dream will become true someday. I may not live to see it, but it is happening! We shall learn to love and respect each other again! I wish you to live it my dear precious Peri. It is up to us, the people. The so called political leaders, are irrelevant. We are the power! We have to believe it!
Peri-Very well said. We know you are married and you have two amazing daughters. Would you like to tell us about them too.
Katie E.- They are my heart and soul!. I was the means for them to come into this world. I learn a lot from them, they are my teachers. I am grateful for their presence in my life. I was not a good mother to them. It’s their father who brought them up! I was always in the bicommunal meetings, day and night including weekends. I haven’t seen them growing! They confessed to me one day, they wished they were Turkish Cypriots; I would pay more attention to them. My husband was a father and a mother to them. They are brilliant both of them, lovely human beings. I’ve missed their nicest years. Now I have an “adopted” T/C granddaughter, a very special child. I wish I will be able to see her at least, growing. All I haven’t lived as a mother.
Peri- How would your family and friends describe you?
Katie E.- I’m a difficult case. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear all kinds of expressions about me. Whatever they would say, is OK. It has nothing to do with me. A lot is written on Facebook, you could search for it. I don’t talk about myself. Only to God I talk about myself, just the two of us! I hope I do good to humanity. Quietly and peacefully.
Peri– Who’s your biggest support in life?
Katie E.- My faith in Life. My love for my Island, and all its people.
Peri- Do you have any hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
Katie E.– I travel around with my boy-friend!! My black Q3 Audi! We’ve been all over the place, to the whole of Cyprus. No narrow path in Karpaz was left unexplored, nor in Akamas! I love every single corner of Cyprus. Free time means I am all over the place!
Peri– What are your strengths in life?
Katie E.– My inner voice. I trust my heart.
Peri- What are your weaknesses?
Katie E.- My urge for freedom. I don’t do what the majority does, not out of reaction, just I have my own path, and I follow it, whatever the consequences. I’m not part of the system, and I could never be. I dance my own rhythm, nobody tells me what to do. In the end, I balance between the two worlds: mine, and the bigger one, the one the others create. I love too much. I cry too much, silently.
Peri- Do you have any fears?
Katie E.- Poverty, Violence, Corruption, Abuse of people and animals. The biggest fear though is the revenge from Nature. For things which we have caused. Being unhealthy is a fear.
Peri- How do you deal with pressure and stressful situations?
Katie E.- I go for walks on Pentadaktylos (Besparmak) Mountain, I listen to Nature, I sit in an empty Church, I talk to my dog.
Peri– And what makes you happy the most in life?
Katie E.– Health primarily! The smile on people’s faces. Good energy. Light. Clean hearts. Genuine people. Birds and animals. Good music.
Peri- Do you have any superstitious beliefs?
Katie E.- No. Superstitions derive from fear. I deal with fear. I have learned to see it, be aware of it and deal with it. In everyday life though, you may catch me saying don’t to this; don’t do that, based on a superfluous superstition I have inherited from elderly people, etc. Which I would laugh about otherwise. What I believe though, is that energy around us affects us; and we affect it. The way we deal with it may end up in a superstition.
Peri– Where do you see yourself in a few years?
Katie E.- In a home with a fireplace, up on the mountain, overlooking the sea, listening to Chopin by the hours, drinking good house wine, playing with my dogs and cats, with a smile of fulfillment from this life.
Worst case scenario: In a home for the elderly…..’huzurevi’, (laughs)
Peri– I highly doubt your worst scenario! You are surrounded by so many good people who love you sincerely that no-one would ever let you to live in any ‘huzurevi’. In my worst scenario for you, you would be continually and non-stop serving your visitors in that home with fireplace when Chopin is playing in the background 😉
Here is another question: If you were an animal, which one would it be?
Katie E.– German Shepherd.
Peri- And can you describe yourself in one word?
Katie E.- Complicated.
Peri– Is there anything else you would like to add? Perhaps a message for my readers out there?
Katie E.- Believe in yourself. Follow your intuition. Pursue your dream. Do one good act every day. Be patient, be loving. Be friends with Peri. Listen to her when singing, read her when writing. All my love to all.
Peri– Thank you for our wonderful chat Katie. It was a pleasure talking with you as always.
Katie E.– I thank you enormously. I had tears when we started this interview, you wrote so many beautiful things about me. God Bless you always.
Peri– I want to thank YOU for all your kind words and also all the support and belief you are giving me in my journey towards becoming a professional performer in music. I feel so blessed that I have a cosy corner in your huge heart ❤️