Leonidas Kanaris

Composer, Guitarist, Music Professor

He is one of the active and discrete Greek musicians of his generation. He lives and works in Athens.

He has written 82 compositions to date, including works for various solo instruments and chamber music ensembles, string and symphonic orchestra, one concertante and one symphonic cantata. He has written many cycles of songs and vocal compositions based on poems by Greek poets (such as: K. Kavafis and K. Karyotakis and others), as well as poems by: Ch. Baudelaire, E. A. Poe, J. W. von Goethe and others. He has also written: choral music, musical narrations, theatre and film music, electronic music, etc.

His compositions are often performed in Greece and other countries by various well-known artists, ensembles and orchestras (inluding the Greek National Symphony Orchestra, Odessa Camerata, etc) and commonly receives very good reviews. His music has been characterized as moving in the wide field of polystylistic eclecticism, with a personal emotional and spiritual character.

International organisations, foundations and festivals (such as: the Athens Music Hall, the Odessa Camerata Orchestra, the ISCM World Music Days, the Alexander Onassis Foundation, the Greek Composers’ Union, Michalis Kakogiannis Foundation, etc), as well as municipalities etc have included works of his in their events.

Several of these works have been published by Papagrigoriou – Nakas, Contemporary Music, Fagotto and other publishers and have been recorded on cd by Subways, Musica Viva, Corifeo and others, included his personal cds: ‘Greek Impressions‘ (playing in guitar duo) and ‘One night when…’ with seven of his pieces.

His artistic endeavors, as a composer and guitarist, include many concerts in Greece and abroad (UK, USA, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Poland, Finland, Egypt, Denmark, Ukraine, Albania, Cyprus, Russia, Ethiopia, Germany, S. Korea, China, etc.) consisting of performances of his own works, solo appearances, collaboration with various musicians in chamber music ensembles and orchestras, multimedia performances and conducting small musical groups and choirs.

Awards and distinctions

L. Kanaris has won twelve awards and distinctions. The meanest are:

✓ In 1987 he won the 1st prize at the guitar competition of the Volos International Guitar Festival (director: Costas Cotsiolis).

✓ In 2001 the Perfecture of Magnesia (central Greece) honored him for his artistic achievement.

✓ In 2002 his work ‘Dream Land’ (for mezzo and ensemble) won the 3rd prize at the G.A.Papaioannou Composition Competition.

✓ In 2003 the artistic committee of the International Society for Contemporary Music (consisting of Krz. Penderecki, A. Laporte and others) chose his ‘Elegiaco for Woodwind Quintet’ to represent Greece in the International Festival World Music Days in Slovenia.

✓ In 2004 with his ‘2nd String Quartet’ he won the 2nd prize in the D. Dragatakis Composition Competition.

✓ In 2016 he won a honorary distinction by the Hellenic Choirs Association for his choir piece ‘Dikaiosis’.

✓ In 2021 the artistic committee of the International Society for Contemporary Music chose his ‘Goeteia for String Quartet’ to represent Greece in the International Festival World Music Days in China.


His main tutors were:

✓ Theodore Antoniou (Composition Diploma – Hellenic Conservatory, as well as orchestra conducting lessons) 

✓ Thomas Simaku (PhD in Music – Composition, at the University of York, U.K.)

✓ Costas Cotsiolis (Guitar Diploma at the Athens Conservatory)

✓ Joseph Urshalmi (Post-graduate studies, at the Rubin Academy of Jerusalem)

He studied the Greek music tradition (ancient, byzantine and popular) and has also been involved with modern music (Jazz, Rock, etc).

At the same time, he stydied Political Science at Panteion University of Athens and also studied esoteric philosophies, as well as Rhetoric.

Activities and Artistic Endeavours

✓ L. Kanaris is a board member of the Greek Composers’ Union and for five years was the director of the Music Polytonon magazine.

✓ He was the president of the Hellenic Music Company and for 14 years he was the president of the Corfu International Guitar and Composition Congress – Festival.

✓ He often writes articles for magazines and gives lectures and seminars on various music subjects.

✓He has also written a series of successful educational guitar books called ‘Kitharokosmos‘.

✓ He teaches at educational seminars for musicians, including psychosomatic subjects concerning musicians.

✓ Since 1981, he has also been working as a music teacher (of Theory, Guitar and later of Composition) in various music schools and conservatories, with many graduates and now professional musicians.