George Spiro Giordas was born on January 21, 1932, to Spiro and Artemis Giordas in Philadelphia, where he grew up with his sister Evangeline. As a child, he took music lessons, where he learned to play the clarinet and saxophone; this led to him participating in various music groups in high school such as the concert, marching and dance band.
At age 18, George was drafted in the United States Army during the Korean War. He was shipped overseas to Europe from 1953 to 1954. He served in Germany and France initially as a linguist interpreter (Greek). He was later reassigned to the 279th Army Band which provided him extended opportunities of traveling through much of non-communist Europe.
He also had an opportunity to visit Greece where he met many relatives and gained a familiarity with his extended family and the country. He enjoyed his time abroad and was discharged in 1955 then attended LaSalle College where he studied business. In October 1957 he married Dawn Delegates, who was his first and only true love.
They were very happily married for 42 awesome years until she passed away in 1999. They had one daughter, Denise and in time four grandchildren, Dawn, George, James, and John. His goal as a parent is to leave a legacy of love and fairness. George is known for his musical talents. After being honorably discharged from the Army, he became interested in forming a small Greek playing ensemble. Thus, the George Giordas Orchestra was born, which performed from 1963 through 1993. George served as the frontman of the band, providing the lead vocals and playing the bouzouki, clarinet, and saxophone.
Traditional songs and dances of Greece were the band’s main focus, but they also played popular music, for many non-Greeks hired the band to play at functions as well. The sounds of many memorable affairs were brought to life by the George Giordas Orchestra. Most of the events played were, in fact, Church Feast Day Dinner dances, during which great celebration ensued. George claims that these events were marked by lively music and dancing, everyone in high spirits, and dressed to impress. The March 25 Greek Independence dances at the Sheraton at 17th and JFK in Philadelphia were particularly memorable.
Year after year, over 2,000 people would attend this great celebration with both local entertainment, including the George Giordas Orchestra, as well as entertainment directly from Greece. Aside from these celebrations, the orchestra also played at the Academy of Music in Downtown Philadelphia on occasions for Greek charitable benefit affairs. One thing is for sure – these stories serve as a testament to the unifying nature of celebration through music and dance as expressed through the Greek culture.
It is because of Greek American artists like George Giordas that people have been able to live out their culture through song and dance and unleash that marvelous force that is known among Greeks as kefi. His work has forever been immortalized into records, tapes, and CDs and other forms on audio and is able to be passed down throughout the generations, and it is through influential artists that traditional Greek music and dance lives on.
Now, George enjoys reading, crossword puzzles, and above all, spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren. Religion has a very dominant place in his life. He is very active in the Elkins Park church community. George Spiro Giordas is a role model for all as a man of great character and unmatched charisma. He continues to leave a lasting legacy on all of those whose lives he touches.
Originally published on Cosmos Philly by Eleftherios Kostans. Video by Vasilis Keisoglou.