Musical Performance: From Turkey - Pianist Hakan Ali Toker (NYC Debut)

Sat, June 19, 2010 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all musical performances »)

A concert pianist and an entertainer who brings the most novel interpretations to that which is most traditional, Hakan Toker's ability to take tunes given spontaneously by members of the audience, and improvise a new composition out of them, continues to shock and delight audiences. His is an interactive journey, full of humor and surprises, which brings together the old and new, east and west, art and entertainment.

Tickets: $15, available at the door or online here. (A surcharge applies, use printout as your ticket).

Doors open at 8:30.

Listen to Hakan Ali Toker here.

About Hakan Ali Toker

"His spontaneity and skill seemed to know no bounds....From the lists of familiar tunes, phone numbers, waltzes and dance gestures, Mr. Toker created a truly unique and original voice." - Indiana Daily Student

"The post-intermission offerings turned out to be most fulfilling, starting auspiciously, provocatively, stunningly with a performance by pianist Hakan Ali Toker." - Herald Times

Born in 1976 in Turkey, Hakan Ali Toker began his music education at age 12 as a cellist at Istanbul University State Conservatory, middle school division. One year later, he switched to Bilkent University, Faculty of Music and Performing Arts, Ankara, where he double-majored in piano and composition. In 1996 he took a break from school and moved to Iceland to study piano privately with Anna M. Sigurðardóttir. The following year he was admitted to the Indiana University School of Music in the USA, from which he graduated with bachelor’s degrees in piano and composition in 2000.

Starting in his teens, Hakan played numerous piano recitals in Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Denmark, Iceland, USA, Italy, Germany and Korea. He appeared on radio and TV stations in these countries and received many positive reviews in the international press. At age 17, he played his own works with the Sochi Municipal Orchestra (Russia), also collaborated with them, introducing Turkish orchestral and traditional music to the Russian public. He was the youngest artist to perform in the Istanbul International Music Festival in 1993. He was also the first Turk to participate in the Lvov Festival of Virtuosi in 1994, where he introduced contemporary Turkish piano music to the Ukrainian public. His recitals featured classical rarities, along with the standard piano repertoire and his own music. After 2000, improvisation and world music were added to these.

While receiving a firm, academic Western-classical education, Toker grew-up listening to the sound of his native land, absorbing a treasure chest of diverse musical traditions which go back millennia. While living in the United States, he also began to learn and professionally play Middle Eastern, Central Asian, South American music and jazz.

In his recitals; beside his own arrangements and compositions blending Eastern and Western music, Toker offers interactive improvisations; spontaneously creating pieces of music based on tunes, or phone numbers given by the audience. Humor is a big part of his style. Through laughter, thought and sometimes a shock –he loves to surprise the audience-, his mission is to fill the gap between high art and entertainment, and to help create more peaceful interactions between people of the East and the West.

He also makes improvisational music for silent films. He has played for, and continues to play for silent classics such as Metropolis (1927), Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), Intolerance (1916), Three Ages (1923), Phantom of the Opera (1925), and many more, in movie theaters in USA.

Besides piano, he plays the kanun (a traditional Middle Eastern zither), the accordion and the clavichord (a medieval keyboard instrument). He experiments with microtonal Turkish tunings on this instrument, as well as the piano. He has collaborated with numerous classical, jazz and world musicians; singers, dancers, poets, trapeze artists, jugglers, electronic and multi-media artists; including Turkish vocalist Yıldız İbrahimova, Turkish kanun virtuoso Tahir Aydoğdu and kamancha virtuoso Munis Sharifov of Azerbaijan.

The Artist currently resides in İstanbul, Turkey. He continues to give solo and duo recitals, silent film performances; and concerts with his bands Tanini, Al Dente and Salaam.

Last updated: 2010-05-25 01:58:26

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