Sivan Perwer was born December 23, 1955 in Siverek, Turkey. One of his childhood memories is that the whole neighborhood used to demand from him to sing for them in frequent occasions: “Sivan please sing for us, we’ll give you candies and sweets…” The people around him really loved his singing and he grew up with this encouraging atmosphere. By the time he was in high school people were asking him to make records. At that time this was not in his mind; he was involved with furthering his studies to help his Kurdish people. Besides, recordings could only be done in Turkish, not in his native language Kurdish.
Yet he kept singing. Songs were about friendship, humanity, freedom and peace. Every new song brought a new message. From 1975 on he became a protest singer. When asked why he did not choose fame and fortune he answered: “I want my songs to bring a message about my people, about their reality, their situation, their suffering, social misery, about occupation. I must give Kurdish Music a face, a personality. I want to serve my people with my music.”
Still Sivan did not get a real musical education from the start. He was studying mathematics. Yet gradually he taught himself music by studying other peoples’ music and developing his musicianship. He has become the best known Kurdish musician in the world, accompanying himself on the tanbur, Kurdish 3-course lute. Sivan Perwer is also a highly accomplished composer.
At this time he has recorded over 30 cassettes, records, numerous CDs, film and video music. He has become a teacher and inspiration for many Kurdish singers; but especially for his son. His wife Gulistan is also a well-known Kurdish singer.
He is surely banned in the radio and television of the region. As a passionate defender of his people and their music, Sivan travels the world tirelessly, against all efforts to stifle his music. Political songs are a major part of his repertoire but it is in traditional epic and love songs that Sivan excels unlike any other. With 24 albums and more than 20 million cassettes sold, Sivan Perwer is the voice of his people. Many Kurds used to hide their cassettes: after listening to them they were wrapped up in plastic and buried again. In Iraq the possession of a Sivan Perwer cassette was a capital offense.
His voice, cries of love travel many lands, singing on behalf of the silent, he has become the mythical minstrel of an entire people and one of its symbols of cultural resistance.
In 2003 a video came out with concert footage from Perwer’s performances in Duhok, Akre, Zaxo, Dereluk, Lales (Hanke) and other many cities.
By now Sivan Perwer has become a living legend, giving performances all over the world, participating in solidarity concerts, crossing continents with multi-cultural events. Each one of his recordings is different and unique. Spanning the range from traditional to folk, from classical to protest songs to songs of freedom and friendship, in various Kurdish dialects.
Govenda Azadîxwazan (1974) Hevalê Bargiran im (1974) Herne Pêş (1975) Ey Ferat (1976) Kî ne Em (1977) Le Dilbere (1978) Hay Dil (1979) Gelê Min Rabe (1982) Agirî (1983) Bilbilo / Ferzê (1984) Dotmam (1985) Naze (1986) Helebçe (1987) Xewna Min / Qasimlo (Ses, 1988) Zembîlfiroş (1989) Ya Star (Ses, 1995) Hêviya Te (1999) Roj û Heyv (2000) Sare (2004) Cane Cane (2009)
The prodigious talents of Alevi Kurdish musician, singer and composer Ozan Aksoy is apparent from the opening strains of his upcoming November 2nd release of Ozan. Earning his chops early with saz lessons from father and later on with a spot in the group Kardeş Türküler, Mr. Aksoy soon found himself in New York pursuing a degree in ethnomusicology and whole new set of musical collaborators. On this lushly elegant recording charms out the riches of Kurdish, Turkish and Armenian musical traditions by way of folk tunes, love songs, laments and lullabies, carefully snagging western influences, Turkish Anatolian pop tunes and even flamenco riffs.
Mr. Aksoy remarks, “As an Alevi Kurdish musician playing the saz, and as an immigrant musician in the US, I was surrounded by many constraints including my cultural baggage. That burden is why I couldn’t make a solo album until now. But the time came. I wanted to share what I’ve been doing the past few years with the public. But I didn’t want to limit the sound of the album to a traditional box. I wanted to have collaborations with musicians from different parts of the world, who play jazz or other styles. It’s my way of being a Kurdish musician in New York.”
Luring listeners with vocals, bass guitar, ukulele, lavta (lute), saz (long-necked lute), kaval (flute), frame drums, percussion and keyboard, Mr. Aksoy furthers his sound on Ozan with guest musicians violinist Jeremy Brown, teff and claps by Ramzi El-Edlibi, pianist Tamara Kacheimeier, cellist Ani Kalayjian, classical guitarist Richard Miller, sarangi Shyam Nepali, vocalist Leah Shaw, drummer Jonathan Vergara and electric guitarist Luke Vichnis. Ozam is where Mr. Aksoy and company conjure up a musical landscape that bridges east and west, the traditional and the modern and where one music speaks to another.
“This is a snapshot of where I am as an artist. I’m putting all these traditions together in an era of hatred and separation. I didn’t want to shy away from that. Ultimately, these songs speak to our political climate, in the U.S. and in Turkey. They are about immigration, human experience, universal sensations,” Aksoy notes. “This is my current mood. As I grow older, I want to turn attention to those essential emotions that are overlooked in modern life, the nostalgia, pain, suffering. And the hope; there is hope in there, too.”
Opening with “Rhythms of Loneliness,” Ozan takes off on a fantastical journey that is steeped in exotic strings and piano laced with ethereal vocals before giving way to the smooth and easy “Hope” laced with bold dashes of sarangi.
Equally delicious are tracks like the Mediterranean flavored and framed drum edged “Rinde,” the richly worked “Kanchum Em Ari Ari” with its soulful vocals and cello lines and the love song “Leyla.” Additionally, there are goodies like the Armeno-Turkish lament “Derzor Colleri” and the darkly plummy closing track “Dandini.”
Ozan is a remarkably rich musicscape and we can’t wait to find out what Mr. Aksoy has in store for us in the future.
Multi-instrumentalist, composer, vocalist, author and ethnomusicologist Ozan Aksoy was born in Turkey and currently lives in New York. As a young boy, growing up in Turkey, he first learned to play the saz (lute) from his father, and soon established an extraordinary scope as a multi-instrumentalist. He became proficient in many of the string, woodwind, and percussive instruments of the region, including saz, oud, ney, and various drums.
Ozan acquired a passion for the music of ethnic and religious minorities in his country including the Kurds, Armenians, Laz, and Alevi, among others.
Afterwards, in college, as an early member of the critically-acclaimed ensemble Kardeş Türküler (meaning Ballads of Solidarity), Ozan and his colleagues performed the songs of these unrecognized and suppressed peoples, pushing the boundaries of inclusion in Turkey.
During his time with Kardeş Türküler, the group released four albums and toured extensively throughout Europe, spreading their message of diversity and acceptance.
Ozan subsequently relocated to the United States to complete a doctorate in ethnomusicology and further develop his multicultural repertoire.
In 2018 he released his long-awaited first solo album, Ozan, with lyrics in Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian. Ozan performed most of the instruments and vocals on the album himself, although Ozan also features collaborations with acclaimed musicians, including Jeremy Brown, Ani Kalayjian, Richard Miller, and Shyam Nepali among others.
Ozan Aksoy has performed with various ensembles, including Columbia Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, CUNY Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, Ozan Aksoy Trio, Nour and Kardeş Türküler.
With Kardeş Türküler:
Kardeş Türküler (Kalan Müzik, 1997) Doğu – The East (Kalan Müzik, 1999)
Roj û Heyv (Kalan Müzik, 2000) Hemâvâz (Kalan Müzik, 2002)
Aynur, one of the leading musicians from Turkey and a prominent representative of the Kurdish people, is set to perform on Sunday, September 30, 2018 at the The New School – John L. Tishman Auditorium in Manhattan.
Aynur’s music is based on traditional Kurdish folk songs, many of them going back 300 years, which she combines with Western music. Her lyrics often describe the life and sufferings of Kurdish people, in particular women. The show is produced by World Music Institute.
Aynur has collaborated with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Kayhan Kalhor, Javier Limón, Kinan Azmeh, and has appeared in the documentary film “The Music of Strangers” about Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble and in Fatih Akın’s documentary “İstanbul Hatırası / Köprüyü Geçmek-Crossing the bridges” as a singer.
For this concert, Aynur will be joined by clarinet virtuoso and composer Kinan Azmeh, who was trained in his native Damascus and is a graduate of New York’s Juilliard School and the City University of New York.
Tenbûr performer Cemîl Qoçgîrî and pianist Salman Gambarov also take the stage with Aynur and Kinan.
The New School – John L. Tishman Auditorium
63 Fifth Avenue, Room U100, Manhattan Tickets
Aynur Doğan, better known as Aynur, was born in 1975 in Çemisgezek, in the province of Tunceli. She attended ASM Music School in Istanbul, where she studied singing with Begüm Erdem and Askin Metiner. In 2002, her first album, Seyir was released.
Besides taking part in concerts and albums of artists and groups such as Metin-Kemal Kahraman, Grup Yorum, Anjelika Akbar and Orient Expressions, she also performed vocals for television and cinema.
She performed at home and abroad in both Kurdish and Turkish. Her album Keçe Kurdan – Kurdish Girl was released by Kalan Music in 2004.
The product of nearly a year’s effort, with arrangements by such master musicians as Aykut Gurel, Serdar Ataser, Kemal Sahir Gurel and Burhan Bayar, Aynur’s Keça Kurdan presented a combination of Turkish and Kurdish folk songs, as well as new compositions. Accompanied by a host of fine musicians, the album was notable for its original arrangements.
With her broad vocal range, Aynur performs both folk songs and improvisations, and her album has proved capable of deeply moving audiences.
Rising quickly to the top of Kurdish music albums, Keça Kurdan received a significant amount of attention, both in the Turkish and world press.
Attaining great success through the song she sang in Kurdish in Yavuz Turgul’s film Gönül Yarasi, Aynur became the first to sing a Kurdish song live in a film shot in Turkey. She was also featured in Fatih Akin’s 2005 documentary film Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul.
In May 2005, Aynur received great interest when she performed in various cities of Holland with the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble, considered the finest wind ensemble in the country. Later, she gave three concerts in the Festival of Turkey held in Spain in July 2005, alongside such artists as Aksu, Erkan Ogur, Kardeş Türküler, Mercan Dede and Burhan Ocal.
Aynur also performed one song in Kardeş Türküler’s album Bahar (Kalan Muzik, 2005), and two songs in Mikail Aslan’s album, Miraz (Kalan Muzik, 2005). Her album Nûpel was released from Kalan Music at the end of 2005.
Aynur appeared in the 2015 documentary film “The Music of Strangers” about Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble.
On March 16, 2017, Berklee College of Music’s Berklee Mediterranean Music Institute awarded Aynur with the Master of Mediterranean Music 2017 in recognition of her contribution to the preservation of Kurdish folk oral traditions, performing the traditional repertoire and combining it with other modern western styles, opening a new path to this Mediterranean style. Aynur’s faithfulness to traditional Kurdish music, and her perseverance in overcoming big challenges to follow her artistic path, make her an important example for other female artists seeking a creative voice in the Mediterranean music scene.
“To hear Aynur’s voice is to hear the transformation of all the layers of human joy and suffering into one sound. It reaches so deep into our soul, tears into our hearts, and then we are for one moment, joined as one. It is unforgettable!” — Yo-Yo Ma
Aynur, one of the great voices of the eastern Mediterranean, will be touring the United States and Canada in September 2018. Her ensemble includes Salman Gambarov on piano and Cemil Qoçgîrî on tenbur. Clarinetist Kinan Azmeh will be a special guest at New York concert.
Aynur is one of the leading musicians in Turkey. Her music is based on traditional Kurdish folk music, which she combines with Western music. Her lyrics often describe the life and struggles of Kurdish people, specially women. Her recordings include Hawniyaz, Hevra (Together), Rewend and Keçe Kurdan.
Aynur has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Kayhan Kalhor, Javier Limón, Kinan Azmeh, and appeared in the documentary film “The Music of Strangers” about Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble.
Ali Akbar Moradi, from Kermanshah is the extraordinary tanbur player from Kurdistan of Iran. He has a unique style that sets him apart from other players of this ancient instrument. He’s a leading composer, teacher and a consummate performer of the sacred Kurdish music of Iran.
He has won many awards including two honorary diplomas at major music festivals in Iran. Moradi has performed as a soloist and with ensembles in festivals throughout the world.
Kamancheh virtuoso and composer Kayhan Kalhor was born in Tehran (Iran). He began his musical studies at the age of seven. Kayhan Kalhor performed with the prestigious National Orchestra of Radio and Television of Iran and the Shayda Ensemble of the Chavosh Cultural Center while still a teenager.
Deeply devoted to the Iranian classical repertoire (radif), Kayhan Kalhor was further inspired to study regional folkloric traditions, which added additional dimensions to his improvisations and acted as springboards for cross-cultural explorations.
Since then, Kalhor has performed and recorded with Iran’s greatest instrumentalists and singers, including Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Shahram Nazeri, and toured the world as a soloist.
He co-founded the Dastan, Ghazal: Persian & Indian Improvisations, and Masters of Persian Music ensembles and has appeared with the New York Philharmonic and the Orchestre National de Lyon.
He was the featured soloist on the soundtrack of Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth, a score on which he collaborated with Osvaldo Golijov.
Kayhan Kalhor is an original member of Yo-Yo Ma’s acclaimed Silk Road Ensemble and his works are heard on all of the ensemble’s albums.
The Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition, in Shanghai, China, awarded Kayhor the 2018 Isaac Stern Human Spirit award. The award celebrates individuals and groups, from any part of the world, who have made an outstanding contribution to our understanding of humanity through music.
In 2019, Kayhor won the WOMEX (World Music Expo) Artist Award. At the award ceremony, Kayhor stated: “I am very touched and honored and it’s nice to be appreciated during your lifetime when you can see it. However, I don’t see this as a personal achievement. I think a lot of wisdom, history and hard work went into this and I represent the great Iranian musician community here. I am honored to represent them.
Kayhan Kalhor added: “On behalf of the Iranian music community, I dedicate this award to Mohammad Reza Shajarian, the great master of Persian music who has been fighting a nasty illness for the past few years. We need his voice and we need him to be with us, so we wish him well and I hope the musical community accepts this from me.”