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Review: Turkish Delights Are Served Up at Zankel Hall

“voluptuous and pliable” and his program “intoxicating.”

Ahmet Erdogdular is renowned for his sophisticated singing style and is the only performer of some of the vocal forms of the Ottoman classical tradition. The New York Times deemed his voice “voluptuous and pliable” and his program “intoxicating.” He started studying music at an early age with his father, neyzen Ömer Erdoğdular, and continued his musical development with the guidance of the renowned musician Niyazi Sayın. He participated in various concerts as a lead singer while still a teenager. Erdogdular holds a PhD from the Department of Music at the Istanbul University Faculty of Divinity.  He finished his BA at Istanbul Technical University State Conservatory where he also completed his master’s degree in Turkish Classical Music under the guidance of Professor Alaeddin Yavaşça. He specialized in Turkish gazel (improvisation) technique, while his academic research is on the use of music and poetry in gazel forms of the late Ottoman period. Ahmet studied makam and improvisation techniques with Niyazi Sayın, Necdet Yaşar and Kani Karaca, and performed with them in Turkey and around the world.

Studying the techniques of masters of Ottoman music like Munir Nurettin Selçuk, Bekir Sıtkı Sezgin, Ahmet learned the classical singing style. With his father, he also analyzed the old LP recordings of Hafiz Sami, Hafiz Kemal, Hafiz Osman, Izak Al Gazi, Munir Nurettin Selçuk, Sadettin Kaynak, Üsküdarli Ali Efendi, Hafiz Mecid and others, learning their voice and singing techniques in forms such as classical songs, gazel, kaside, and mevlid. From these great masters Ahmet learned the ways in which poetry is matched to the music so that the literary substance and the musical composition are equally represented when performing vocal improvisation. Ahmet also studied and performs Sufi musical repertoire that over centuries integrated spiritual practice and artistic expression. Those include the naat in Mevlevi ayins, as well as ilahi (hymns) and kaside (improvisation on religious poetry), as essential components of the Sufi zikir (remembrance ceremony).

Ahmet Erdoğdular participated in various festivals in Europe, Asia and the Americas performing both Ottoman classical and Sufi music. Ahmet participated in festivals such as the Biennale di Venezia, International Gazel Festival, the International Mystic Sufi Music Festival, Fez Sacred Music Festival, and a number of music festivals in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain. He performed as naathan and ayinhan in The Sacred Encounter, a documentary presented by the Turkish Ministry of Culture to UNESCO for the proclamation of 2007 as The Year of Rumi.

Ahmet worked at the Turkish Radio as soloist, recorded a number of music program series for different television companies, was a guest soloist for two years at the State Turkish Classical Music Ensemble, and is frequently featured in the Turkish Radio Television TV music programs.

Ahmet’s two latest albums Songs of the Sultans-Masterpieces of Turkish Classical Music and Niyaz-Sufi Songs of Love were released in New York and received worldwide attention.

Erdogdular is the president of Makam-New-York, Inc., a non-profit organization for Turkish classical music and arts. He founded the Turkish Music Institute Workshop in 2011, a first in Americas, bringing the foremost masters of modal music to New York City for an intensive week of music immersion.  He was a visiting scholar at Columbia University and the CUNY, Graduate Center Ethnomusicology, Artist in Residence at the Center for Traditional Music, and Dance and is the director of the Rutgers-University-Middle East-Music-Orchestra. He also plays tanbur, lute, and percussion and devotes his time to performing and teaching Turkish classical music. He is based in New York and Istanbul.


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