New York audiences enjoy 'Arts of the Turco-Persian Diaspora'

New York audiences enjoy 'Arts of the Turco-Persian Diaspora'...
todayszaman.com 14/08/2014 Fun

Keywords:#Afghan, #Afghanistan, #Africa, #American, #Asia, #Balkan, #Bey, #Bukhara, #Caspian, #Caspian_Sea, #Central_Asia, #China, #Cossack, #Crimea, #Cultural_Heritage, #DNA, #Iran, #Jewish, #Lincoln, #Mexico, #Muslim, #New_York, #New_York_City, #Ottoman, #Ottoman_Empire, #Ottomans, #Pakistan, #Persian, #Puerto_Rico, #Rafael, #Russian, #Rustam, #Safavids, #Samarkand, #Tatar, #Theodore, #Todayszaman.com, #Turkey, #Turkish, #US, #Ukraine, #Uzbek

August 13, 2014, Wednesday/ 14:37:39/ ALEXANDRA IVANOFF / NEW YORK
New York City, home to hundreds, if not thousands, of different cultures and languages, celebrated the 15th annual “Heritage Sunday” at the free Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival on Aug. 3. The first segment of the one-day event schedule featured “Echoes of the Divine: Arts of the Turco-Persian Diaspora,” a delightful four hours of music and dance from Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia and Crimea.
Held on an outdoor stage in Lincoln Center’s Hearst Plaza, “Echoes of the Divine: Arts of the Turco-Persian Diaspora” included four music groups -- Ahmet Erdoğdular and ensemble, Quraishi, Ensemble Shashmaqam, and the New York Crimean Tatar Ensemble -- presented in collaboration with the Center for Traditional Music and Dance and the Center for Art, Tradition and Cultural Heritage.
The program notes described the colorful nature of the music the audience was about to hear, saying: “The rich historical interaction between Persian and Turkic culture stretches back well over 1,000 years, and defines the languages and arts of a huge territory from the Black Sea to Western China. As ethnomusicologist Theodore Levin has written, these two great axes of civilization conjure powerful images -- the sophisticated urban culture of Iran vs. the nomadic Turkic steppe dweller, the Persian court poet composing sensual paeans to God vs. the Turkic bard and his epic narratives rooted in pagan spirituality. However, this simple dichotomy cannot begin to describe the extent of deep integration between these cultures in major historical empires such as those of Tamerlane (14th-15th centuries), the Ottomans (14th-20th c.), the Safavids (16th-18th c.), the Qajars (18th-20th c.) and the Bukharan emirates (18th-20th c.).”
After Quraishi, the noted Afghan-American master of the rubab (Afghan short-necked lute), opened the concert with music from the Pashtu, Uzbek and Tajik traditions, the Ensemble Shashmaqam of singers, instrumentalists and dancers entranced the audience with their wholly unique blend of Jewish and Muslim music from the regions near the Caspian Sea. Their sung music (performed by Abohay Aminov, Rafael Badalbaev, and Rustam Khodjimamedov) evoked both cantorial (Sephardic and Ashkenazic) and imam/ezan Muslim vocal traditions, and their instrumental music showed both monophonic and polyphonic styles. Two female dancers, sporting traditional costumes in bright green, pink and gold, demonstrated expressive movements where hand positions held special meaning.
Speaking from the stage, Aminov explained that their diverse panoply of classical and folk styles from lullabies, laments, dances to liturgical and wedding repertoire reflects exactly who they are. “We all speak at least five languages,” he said. “Russian, Turkish, Tajik, English and Uzbek dialects. Some of us are from a long lineage of the Bukhara Jewish and Samarkand Muslim communities. We all feel like cousins.”
Turco-Persian selections
Ahmet Erdoğdular’s resonant baritone gave the audience a sampling of Turkish song styles of the Ottoman period with his colleagues Peter Daverington on the ney, Mavrotis Kontanis on the oud and Eylem Başaldı on the violin on which she imitated the phraseology of the kemençe (Black Sea vertical violin). The founder of Makam New York, a non-profit organization devoted to the research, education, promotion and performance of Ottoman Turkish music and arts, Erdoğdular and his ensemble offered the audience what he called the “soup-pot” mix of songs the Ottoman Empire “put together in a pot to make a soup.”
After the monophonic ballad “Şevket Taksim,” they presented “Dügah,” or the “candy-seller’s song,” which was oddly slow and sad. Later he explained to the audience it was written by Tanburi Cemil Bey, who was following an old candy seller through the streets of İstanbul and notated exactly what he sang. Erdoğdular said his teacher told him “it describes the makam perfectly.”
Other ingredients in the soup included Dede Efendi’s “Gülhizar,” or “Rose Garden,” an evocative rendering of a song originally written for the young dancing boys in female clothing, a popular entertainment of the 18th century. He followed with an improvisation on Divan poetry and an example of a Karagöz (puppet show for children) song.
The NY Crimean Tatar ensemble, directed by Nariman Asanoy on the violin, combined the flavors of Ukraine, gypsies, Balkan and Uzbek folk music and dance. The five-member band, which included kanunist Tamer Pınarbaşı, was joined by a large group of folk dancers and singer Seyran Adilov in the fourth and last concert of lively songs that showed many different regional influences, including in their costumes, which looked like a cross between Cossack and Black Sea styles. Asanoy told the audience: “There are 26 groups of people in Crimea, so our DNA is really mixed. We call it ‘kalabalık’ [crowded].”
What this particular concert event brings to mind is that all these performers, from all corners of the world, are all based in New York. All have chosen to emigrate to the US, yet actively keep their cultural traditions very much alive. The rest of “Heritage Sunday,” a concert platform which is now celebrating 15 years of being in existence, featured performers from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Africa, Pakistan and the Caribbean.
After each of the four segments of “Arts of the Diaspora,” master of ceremonies Peter Rushefsky, the executive director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, held a question and answer session for the audience. Questions about the ancient instruments, dance movements, and sources of the music and lyrics were ably answered in English by all the groups that performed. One person in the audience introduced herself to the performers by saying: “I’m very old and very poor. I can’t afford to buy tickets to concerts. This was a fascinating concert. Thank you so much for what you have done for us today -- for all the people of New York City!”

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