ISTANBUL: New project offers the music of architecture

Today’s Zaman, Turkey
May 16 2010

New project offers the music of architecture

Does architecture have a sound? Or literally, does a space have its
own music? If the limits of comprehension can be pushed and the power
of the imagination can be used, yes.

Every space has its own voice, and it reflects the echoes of its music
only to those who are open to hearing it.
This idea is now being brought to life with a project named `Ä°stanbul
Mimarisinin MüziÄ?i’ (The Music of Ä°stanbul’s Architecture) implemented
with the cooperation of the Ä°stanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture
Agency’s classical Turkish music director and the Turkish Music
Foundation. The project is more than a series of concerts: It aims to
attract interest to the fact that both architecture and music, as two
different branches of art, are parts of the same historical entity.
The project includes nine concerts spanning the whole year, the first
three of which have already been performed. The first concert was at
the Radio İstanbul building in Harbiye, the second at Dolmabahçe
Palace and the third at the historic Feshane Administrative Building.

All music reflects its period

`The core idea was first developed by the Turkish Music Foundation,’
says Mehmet Güntekin in an interview with Sunday’s Zaman. He is the
Ä°stanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency’s classical Turkish
music director and was also the director of the Ä°stanbul State Choir
of Classical Turkish Music, which also collaborated on the project.

`I have already known the choir very well for more than 25 years, and
I was aware of the solemnity of the Turkish Music Foundation,’ notes
Güntekin. `What was really significant was the idea itself. The music
of the architecture of Ä°stanbul. ¦ When we say this, a question comes
to mind immediately: Can an architectural structure have music? But
every period reflects all the elements inherent in itself to all
branches of art equally. Nevertheless, architecture is something
concrete and music is abstract. How are we going to comprehend the
music which is unique to a space?’ Güntekin gives the example of the
Süleymaniye Mosque. `Listen or imagine in your head the music of Hacı
Arif Bey with the mosque, there’s something that doesn’t fit. When you
listen to Itri while you look at the Süleymaniye Mosque, you realize
some things coincide.’

What Güntekin tries to express is not only a coincidental harmony
between the music and the space. Neither space or the architectural
structure nor music or any other branch of art are exempt from the
influences of a certain period. And all of them are influenced at the
same time, maybe in similar ways which are reflected in the products
of art. `The first concert was at the Radio Ä°stanbul building,’ says
Güntekin. `This building is one of the symbols of the republican
period of architecture. And we performed pieces by the composers who
worked, who passed through the corridors of this building. The second
concert at the Dolmabahçe Palace included the works of Hacı Arif Bey.
Hacı Arif Bey lived at the palace. What an architect designs in the
interior ornamentation, a composer makes in his compositions.’

`All these elements are the parts of an entity,’ says Fatih Salgar,
chief of the Ä°stanbul State Choir of Classical Turkish Music. `You can
find all the reflections of a certain century in the music. This is a
crucial part of our culture as much as our language because in the
past music and literature were the common point among all the
enlightened people.’

Nine themes, nine concerts

`We’ve been giving thousands of concerts for many years,’ explains
Salgar of the interest they receive. `We have a choir that performs
music at a certain level, and those who love this music are also aware
of the importance of our choir. But there’s an immense interest in the
project. One of the reasons for this is because we may never give such
a concert at these places again.’

The project merits this level of interest after all. It also includes
various elements of the different cultures that have been a part of
Ä°stanbul for centuries. While the project continues with the next
concert on June 2 at the Topkapı Palace with the compositions of Selim
III, another concert on June 15 in the garden of the Archaeology
Museum will bring different cultures together. `We will play on a
different concept with Ensemble Amarcord, a European choir,’ says
Güntekin. `İstanbul is the city for which the most compositions are
made. In this respect, we wanted Ensemble Amarcord to compile the
compositions made for all the capitals of culture selected up to now.
If any of these cities doesn’t have a unique composition, then they
will compile the works of a composer who has lived in this city. They
will perform these compositions in the first part of the concert,
while in the second part, we are going to perform the compositions
made for Ä°stanbul. In the final part, we will perform songs for
Ä°stanbul all together.’

The project continues with a concert of Tanbur Cemil Bey’s music at
Yıldız Palace on June 19; the Itri concert will be at Süleymaniye
Mosque on Sept. 21 and that of Dede Efendi at Yenikapı on Oct. 2.

Another concert that reflects the diversity of the cultural heritage
of Ä°stanbul will take place on Dec. 7 at the St. Jean Chrisostomus
Armenian Catholic Church in Taksim, where the compositions of Armenian
composers will be performed. `Musicians from minority communities
contribute a very important part to our music: the Armenian, Greek and
Jewish composers. Among these minorities, it is the Armenian composers
who have produced the most compositions,’ he said.

16 May 2010, Sunday