1778) The Peaceful Sound Of Ney Echoes In Hagia Irene

The 35th International Istanbul Music Festival, in its last week, hosts the professional Ney player Kudsi Erguner at Hagia Irene today

June 27, 2007
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News

Musician Kudsi Erguner attracts the attention of masses all around the world with the ney (reed flute) that he brings to life with his breath. The artist believes that music should not be entertainment but make people think. . .

Erguner has played various kinds of music, and has an album called “Islam Blues.” Erguner drew attention that the word Blues recalls strangeness, loneliness and nostalgia. Mentioning that western civilization excludes what doesn't resemble itself, he thinks that Turkish Muslims in particular have started to lose their identities to gain acceptance by the west.

“Works for Rumi in Turkey are not sincere”

The famous ney player says, “Muslim intellectuals are trying to protect a depleted civilization” and that it's no good for anyone to pretend that the non existing values are alive. He defined Turkey's attempts on Mevlevism and Mevlana as fraud. Erguner mentioned that the Mevlevi houses were closed as establishments in 1925.

Erguner thinks that Turkish society has become a society which goes where the wind blows like a leaf due to political and cultural breakthroughs. He mentions that the Turkish intellectual does not go beyond the orientalist perspective in approaching ney playing and that in the world, ney playing is considered an art.

Erguner presents the aesthetics of eastern music in many projects he undertook. He mentioned the importance of the Islamic world and especially Turkey, realizing its own values and introducing them to the world. Erguner includes Classical Ottoman music and Sufi music as well as his musical identity in his compositions.

Islam Blues

“The word Blues recalls strangeness, loneliness and nostalgia. As much as this word is valid for black people who were gathered from Africa and forced into slavery, it's also valid for believers who can't find themselves a place in this world,” says the famous ney player and explains that these were the reasons he composed his album as Islam Blues. The artist has seven long compositions in the Islam Blues album.

No east-west synthesis in music

Erguner has works on Istanbul's Greek Composers. Erguner especially avoids discrimination of ethnic origins and defines the Armenian, Greek and Jewish musicians of the Ottoman Empire as Ottoman composers and believes the importance of them being introduced to the world music arena.

The artist defends that ethnic origins are not important and he doesn't like the idea of east-west synthesis in music. Erguner said, “I don't believe in rootless and reasonless fusions, the word synthesis doesn't reflect my perception.” Erguner had interpreted Goethe's “East-West Anthology” accompanied by muezzins at the Passion kirche in Berlin in recent years and was highly appreciated. The artist also combined some poems by the famous Nazim Hikmet with music.

Ney according to Sufi Philosophy

Erguner has been living in Paris for many years and aside from his ney playing identity, he's also known as a composer and musicologist. It was due to his family that Erguner was so willing to play the ney. He learned how to play the ney from his grandfather and father. He said that being a ney player is also accepted as the attainment of Sufism status in Mevlevi culture. In Mevlana's Mesnevi, in the metaphor established between ney and humans, the ney defines the mature human and the ney player defines the person giving life to it with his breath.

According to the philosophy, while the ney finds life with the breath of the ney player, the ney player surrenders to God and his inspiration. Although Erguner comes from the Sufi tradition, he did not stay away from the modern world. He was involved in many projects with names such as Peter Gabriel, Maurie Bejart, Peter Brook, Georges Aperghis, Didier Lockood and Michel Portal and other world famous artists. Aside from theater music, Erguner has been in over 60 albums and he holds many concerts in Europe.

Greek composers at the Hagia Irene

Erguner greets the festival audience every year with different projects. He is performing today at the Hagia Irene, where he will interpret the non-religious works of Greek composers of the Ottoman Empire Zaharya and Ilya. Another important factor at the concert is that the pieces will be performed both in Greek and old Turkish.


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