Burhan Öçal & Istanbul Oriental Ensemble

Burhan Öçal & Istanbul Oriental Ensemble
Meany Hall for Performing Arts
Seattle, WA
November 1, 2003

Back by popular demand (after his sold-out Seattle debut with the World Music and Theatre series 2001-02), Turkish Roma percussionist along with the Istanbul Oriental Ensemble returns to Meany Theatre on November 1, 2003. The ensemble which includes band director, Öçal on darbuka (goblet drum), vocals, percussion and strings, Emre Demir (oud/lute), Volkan Gumuslu (violin), Tenel Savas Ozkok (qanun/zither), Kaan Sehirkahyasioglu (darbuka and percussion) and Savas Zurnaci (clarinet)
will perform Turkish gypsy music. The all-but-forgotten musical heritage going back as far as 1750 (Ey Goncai Naziktenin by Sultan Selim III) as well as, contemporary pieces composed by Istanbul Oriental Ensemble promise to delight music lovers of diverse backgrounds. The Turkish gypsy repertoire with its nucleus carved out by the darbouka and impassioned clarinet runs might remind some viewers of belly dancing music and is related if not a key player in that genre. This music is further embellished
by oud, violin, qanun (zither) and additional percussion and at times does recall music from Turkish classical and folk traditions as well as, garnering influences from surrounding areas such as Greece, Thrace and Bulgaria. The impassioned music with its love for nature, zest for life and sorrows has been featured on IOE’s award-winning recordings, Gypsy Rum (1995), Sultan’s Secret Door and Caravanserai (2000, dedicated to clarinetist Ferdi Nadaz who died shortly after the CD was recorded) and also in the film, Latcho Drom (1993).

Istanbul Oriental Ensemble’s program features taqsim or solo improvisations from the musicians. A musician starts a theme on a maqam or mode then other musicians add further ornamentation. The solo improvisations are performed on oud, darbuka, clarinet, violin and qanun at various times. The result is lavish music full of passionate intensity as the musicians express a full palette of emotions. One minute they might delve into a melancholic place and the next they grace their listeners with a joie de vivre.

Ensemble leader/director Burhan Öçal was born in Kirklareli, near Istanbul. His father taught him percussion and his mother taught to sing religious songs. After his first contact with Western music, Burhan fused jazz and classical with his cultural traditions. Eventually, he mastered the darbuka, kettledrum, kudum, bendi and string instruments, divan-saz, tanbur and oud. He has composed and
performed with the ensemble as well as, recording solo projects. He has worked with numerous musicians from varying traditions including the Kronos Quartet. And he was an artist in residency at University of Southern California and University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

The World Music and Theatre series kicked off with a concert by Emil Zrihan in October 2003. Other performers in the series include a lively sampling of gypsy music, Gypsy Spirit: Journey of the Roma (February 13 & 14, 2004), Armenia’s premier folk ensemble, Shoghaken Ensemble (April 3, 2004) and an ambitious artistic collaboration, TaikoProject: (Re) Generation (April 30 & May 1, 2004). The UW World Music Series began in 1989 and the promoters of the series have brought an array of performers including, Cubanismo (1999), Susana Baca, Throat Singers of Tuva, Angelique Kidjo, Ensemble Tartit (2003) and Yungchen Lhamo (2003) to Seattle audiences.

For more information on the Burhan Öçal concert and the UW World Music and Theatre series, visit www.uwworldseries.org

For more information on Burhan Öçal and the Istanbul Oriental Ensemble recordings, visit http://www.harmoniamundi.com

Compliments of Cranky Crow World Music