Turkish Music: A Different Sound World

“You enter a different sound world,” says Wesleyan’s Private Lessons Teacher and renowned guitarist, Cem Duruöz, when describing the music of his homeland, Turkey. “The scales and rhythms are uniquely intricate and beautiful. I grew up hearing them on my mother’s radio.” This Saturday, Duruöz will give the pre-show talk prior to the final Crowell Concert Series performance of the year, a concert by the Boston-based Turkish music ensemble, Dünya.

According to Professor of Music Mark Slobin, Turkish music is “one of the great art musics of the Middle Eastern complex that includes Arabic and Persian music and dates back many centuries.” Slobin’s former student, Robert Labaree, who received his Phd from Wesleyan in 1989, founded Dünya and is also chair of the music history department at Boston’s New England Conservatory. Slobin describes his dissertation as a “pioneering comparison of medieval music and Middle Eastern music examined through the songs of the troubadour.”

Wesleyan’s Concert Committee selected Dünya to perform in support of the University’s recent establishment of the Middle Eastern Studies Certificate Program. It also helped to have the resounding endorsement of Duruöz, who serves on the Committee. Duruöz grew up in Turkey at a time when conservatories did not offer the opportunity to study Turkish classical or folk traditions. He went to Stanford, San Francisco Conservatory and Julliard and then launched an international touring career performing classical Spanish and Baroque guitar music. Five years ago, he reconnected with the music of his youth and recently released Treasures of Anatolia, a CD of all-Turkish music for solo guitar.

According to Duruöz, “Many of the instruments audiences will hear on Saturday are the basis of Western classical instruments as we know them today including the ney (end-blown flute); the ud and saz (Middle Eastern short and long-necked lutes); the ceng (harp); the kemence (spike fiddle); and the darbuka (drum). Dünya are masters of a wonderful spectrum of music including folk songs from the rural areas, classical music from the Ottoman court and Sufi music that is more spiritual.”

Saturday, March 27, 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
Pre-concert talk at 7:15pm by Cem Duruöz