avina Yannatou studied singing with Gogo Georgilopoulou and Spiros Sakkas in Athens, and later attended postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with a scholarship awarded by Mousigetis Foundation.
In 1979 she began working as a professional, in the greek radio 3, participating in the daily program Lilipoupolis in collaboration with the composer Lena Platonos. Following that, her career took off collaborating with many greek composers (Platonos, Mamangakis, Kypourgos, Katsoulis, Gregoriou, Marangopoulos, Kamarotos, a.o.) and having released numerous albums since then.
In the mid-1990s, she joined forces with jazz / traditional musicians forming a band known as ‚Primavera en Salonico’, interpreting Sephardic and Mediterranean songs, having recorded 8 CDs in Lyra and ECM records and giving concerts all over the world.
She has been a founding member of an Early Music ensemble in Athens („Early Music Workshop”) in the ’80s.
She has always displayed a keen interest in exploring free jazz music.
She has collaborated with Peter Kowald, Floros Floridis, Barry Guy, Nikos Touliatos, Gunther Pitscheider, Gerald Preinfalk, Gunther Baby Sommer, the Ensemble „Medea Electronique”, and the Ensemble Constantinople.
Yannatou is also a songwriter (CDs „Dreams of the mermaid: Is king Alexander alive?”, „Rosa das Rosas”, „Musique Des Chambres” Lyra records).
She has composed music for theater (National Theater of Greece, National Theater of Northern Greece, Thessalian Theater, Theater of Neos Kosmos, „Playback” theater, for the plays: „Medea”, „Bacchae”, „Ifigenia in Aulis”, „Dibuk”, The Caukasian Chalk Circle”, „Persona”, „The Suppliants”) and for pantomime performances.
She occasionally participates in workshops, teaching vocal improvisation for actors and musicians.
:: Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonico
Based on traditional material – mainly from the Mediterranean Area – Savina Yannatou and the group Primavera en Salonico offer an open sound without borders or labels, from simple songs extending to contemporary music forms.
Insisting on acoustic instruments, half of which have their origin in the East, they attempt at exploiting their specific sound, oftentimes also exploring them to the limits of their possibilities. Beyond her exquisite interpretive capacity Savina Yannatou gives special emphasis to the expression of the „music” of each different language, without letting that stop her from oftentimes using her voice as one more instrument.
With a background that combines classical studies and „authentic” traditional music with improvised music and jazz, Savina Yannatou and the musicians of Primavera en Salonico find themselves like rope-dancers on the chord which connects the modal music of the East with the equivalent music of Western Europe, music of the Middle Ages and the popular polyphonies of the Mediterranean. Beginning from the melismatic riches of the Eastern Maqam and the charming irregular rhythms they explore the territory of collective free improvisation, meeting there modern jazz.
Savina Yannatou and Primavera en Salonico have been giving concerts all over the world since 1996. This includes the whole of Europe, the United States, Israel and Taiwan, and venues like the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Barbican in London, the 92nd Street Y in New York, The Holon Theatre in Tel Aviv, the Melbourne Concert Hall and various WOMAD festivals, as well as numerous other world music festivals, like Stern Grove in San Francisco, Taipeh World Music Festival, Fiesta des Suds in Marseille and many others. Highlights of 2003 include the Moers new Jazz Festival in Germany, Music Meeting in Holland and a sold-out Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, in 2004 Etnosur Festival in Spain and Musicas do Mundo in Portugal, while 2005 started with a concert at the 20st edition of the International Jazz festival Muenster in Germany.
Together with Primavera en Salonico Savina Yannatou recorded „Primavera en Salonico”, Sephardic Folk Songs from Salonica (Lyra), Mediterranea (Sounds True, USA/ Lyra), The Virgin Maries (Lyra), Terra Nostra, a live CD licensed by ECM Records in 2003 and a new production by ECM, result of creative collaboration with producer and label founder Manfred Eicher: Sumiglia, which was released in March 2005.