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MEI: Memories in Sound II—Concert and Post-Intermission Discussion with Turkish Composer Munir Nurettin Beken

Date:April 14, 2009 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm EDT
Location:Columbia University
Teacher's College
Milbank Chapel
525 W 120th Street
Contact:For further information regarding this event, please contact Laura Falzon by sending email to or by calling 212-678-3309.

The Music & Music Program at Teachers College, Columbia University in collaboration with The Middle Eastern Institute (MEI), Columbia University and The Office of the President, Diversity & Community Affairs at Teachers College present the ISSA Sonus ensemble in concert.

Co-Sponsors: The Music and Music Education Program, and the Office of the President, Diversity and Community Affairs at Teachers College

Memories in Sound II, is a chamber music concert featuring the works of Turkish composer and Ud virtuoso Münir Nurettin Beken: Memories of a Shoehorn for flute, string trio and ud and Holes in the Japanese Lamp for violin and cello.

Composer Munir Beken, also a renowned ud performer, will join the ISSA Sonus ensemble—Laura Falzon (flute), Emily Ondracek (violin), Erik Peterson (viola) and Adrian Daurov (cello), in performing his work for flute, string trio and ud in a second New York performance of this work. ISSA Sonus ensemble is scheduled to perform the New York Premiere of these works on April 11th at a concert at the Tenri Cultural Institute. Beken will additionally perform a solo ud improvisation in Makam Bûselik. Other works on the program include works by Hovhannes, Ben-Haim and Torun.

Memories of a Shoehorn, a new work whose world premier took place in California this February,  is a musical depiction of Beken’s childhood memories of his father, an amateur singer, telling him stories of places he’d been to performing with his friends. As Turkish tradition required shoes to be removed before entering anyone’s home, Beken’s father always carried his shoehorn on these travels, thus the title  — Memories of a Shoehorn. The composer weaves elements of Turkish classical music into this work; modes, rhythms reminiscent of the “usul-s” in Turkish classical music, ornamentations, and occasional quotes from Turkish songs, which impart a Turkish character to the piece.

Holes in the Japanese Lamp, also receiving its 2nd New York performance in the same concert, is based on an interplay of dichotomies, textural, timbral or otherwise. Another memory in sound, it depicts a violin bow poking holes in a Japanese lantern that used to hang in the composer’s home studio in Istanbul.

Short biographies

ISSA Sonus Ensemble: Flutist Laura Falzon, violinist Emily Ondracek and violist Erik Peterson founded ISSA Sonus ensemble. This new ensemble brings together a vibrant group of performers who come from renowned conservatories and universities, including The Juilliard School, the London College of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music and Columbia University. They have performed across the world and featured as soloists and members of orchestras and ensembles. Their rich repertoire includes a great number of world premieres. ISSA Sonus ensemble is committed to presenting programs that mainly focus on 20th century and new music.

Composer Münir Nurettin Beken is a professor of theory and composition in the Ethnomusicology Department at UCLA. His career spans theory, composition, ethnomusicology, and performance. His compositions range from a state-commissioned ballet suite for orchestra, to music for film and television, for which he has won various awards. His scholarly work focuses on modal theory as well as research on musical globalization and the phenomenology of music. Beken has published in Ethnomusicology, a premier journal in the field, and contributed to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. He is one of the founding members of the State Turkish Music Ensemble. As a soloist on the ud, he has performed in venues across the U.S. and has recorded a solo CD with Rounder Records.

 A Word About the Ud

The ud (Arabic oud) has one of the longest continuous performing traditions of any musical instrument, extending back to before the European Medieval period up to the present. Brought to Europe by returning crusaders, the ud was the instrument of composers and scholars such as Farabi (c. 872-c. 951) and Safi ad Din (1252-1334) during the medieval period. Solo improvisation has been a very important aspect of the Turkish ud performance practice.  The Ud has 11 strings, the top two of which may be tuned differently to the melodic mode of the composition. As it has no frets, it can play microtonal inflections imbedded in Turkish music repertoire.



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