Musical Performance: Ahmet Erdoğdular - Songs of Istanbul

Sat, November 14, 2009 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Ahmet Erdoğdular - Vocals


Harold Hagopian, Violin
Tamer Pinarbasi, Kanun
Johnny Farraj, Percussion

Saturday, November 14, 2009
9:00 p.m. (doors open at 8:30)

Tickets: $15.00, available at the door and online here. (A fee applies - use printout as your ticket)

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Ottoman classical music developed in parallel with the Ottoman Empire, which spanned from 1299 until 1922. The Empire was in effect a multi-ethnic state, and cultural influences, including music, were shared by ethnic groups that included Turks, Armenians, Greeks, Kurds, Arabs, Persians, Assyrians and Jews. During the growth of the Empire, elements of music of these conquered peoples were incorporated into the increasingly diverse field of Ottoman music.

The repertoire performed by Turkish master singer Ahmet Erdoğdular in this concert draws on the many different cultures that lived together for centuries during this period, with a special Istanbul ethos. Some of these songs are still performed in the vernacular in the Balkans and the Levant. In addition to these songs, Ahmet will also sing gazels, or vocal improvisations.

Listen and watch:


Ahmet Erdoğdular started studying music at an early age with his father, neyzen Ömer Erdoğdular, and continued his musical development under the guidance of the renowned musician Niyazi Sayın, performing in various concerts as a lead singer while still a teenager. Ahmet earned his Masters degree in Turkish Classical Music under the guidance of Professor Alaeddin Yavaş at Istanbul Technical University State Conservatory, specializing in Turkish gazel (improvisation) technique. During this time, has also studied makam and improvisation techniques with Niyazi Sayın, Necdet Yaşar and Kani Karaca, performing with them in Turkey and around the world. Studying the techniques of masters of Ottoman music such as Munir Nurettin Selçuk, Bekir Sıtkı Sezgin, and Meral Uğurlu, Ahmet learned the classical singing style, including gazel, kaside, and mevlid, as well as Sufi musical repertoire that over centuries integrated spiritual practice and artistic expression.

Ahmet has participated in various festivals in Europe, Asia and the United States performing both Ottoman classical and Sufi music. He was a soloist for several years at Turkish Radio and Turkish Radio Television as well as the State Turkish Classical Music Ensemble. He performed in Ottoman music concerts as a member of the Lalezar Ensemble, and recorded a four CD Anthology of Ottoman Music in the United States. He has been a soloist with The Necdet Yasar Ensemble in France, Kani Karaca in Japan, Niyazi Sayın in Austria, Ross Daly in Greece, and Kudsi Ergüner in France, Morocco, Greece, and Italy, and has participated in such festivals as the Biennale di Venezia, International Gazel Festival, the International Mystic Sufi Music Festival, Fez Sacred Music Festival, and festivals in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain. He performed as naathan (choir) and ayinhan (reciter of Koranic passages) in the film documentary The Sacred Encounter, presented by the Turkish Ministry of Culture to UNESCO for the proclamation of 2007 as The Year of Rumi, and has given lectures, seminars and workshops in places such as Bosporus University in Istanbul, the Boston Conservatory, Sufi music retreat in San Francisco, and Labyrinth Musical Workshop in Greece. In addition to his singing, Ahmet plays tambur, oud and percussion and devotes his time to performing and teaching. He is currently a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York.

Harold Hagopian is an Armenian-American violinist and record producer. He operates the Traditional Crossroads record label out of New York City. He has worked on reissuing diverse styles of Armenian music from the Shoghaken Ensemble from Armenia, to original recordings of Gomidas Vartabed and his student the famous Armenag Shah-Mouradian, to the "Kef Time" albums of Richard Hagopian, Harold's father. Harold is an accomplished violinist, in the realms of classical music and also playing Armenian music, often with his father on oud. He also plays the kanon and clarinet.

Born in Karaman, Turkey in 1970, Tamer Pinarbasi attended the Istanbul Technical University State Conservatory of Turkish Music, where he developed his own technique for playing the kanun. Instead of using a misrab (plectrum) on each pointer finger, he plays with his fingernails, a technique which allows him to use all his fingers while playing. Combining this technique with his knowledge of the makam and western harmony, Mr. Pinarbasi has become one of the world's great kanun virtuosos. He has made numerous recordings in Turkey, and has performed solo concerts throughout Europe. He moved the the US in 1984 and resides, performs and teaches in New York City.

Johnny Farraj studied Arabic percussion with Michel Merhej Baklouk (Fairouz's veteran percussionist) and Karim Nagi, the oud with Simon Shaheen and Bassam Saba, and classical Arabic singing with Rima Khcheich and Youssef Kassab. He attended the Arabic Music Retreat for six consecutive years, and has performed with Simon Shaheen/Qantara and Najib Shaheen. He performed on Maqams of Baghdad by Safaafir featuring Amir El-Saffar, and recorded on the soundtrack of the play "9 Parts of Desire" by Heather Raffo. Johnny created the Maqam World web site to teach classical Arabic music (maqam) theory, and has taken part in many lectures and demonstrations on that subject in universities and museums in the US and Canada. Recently Johnny recorded Arabic music tracks for the award-winning documentary "Jimmy Carter - Man From Plains" by Jonathan Demme, and appeared and performed in Demme's 2008 feature film "Rachel Getting Married".

Last updated: 2009-11-13 17:25:08

Ahmet Erdoğdular
Ahmet Erdoğdular

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