Music duo ready to change musical taste of Turkey

Music duo ready to change musical taste of Turkey

Mert Şuşut / - ISTANBUL
Music duo ready to change musical taste of Turkey

The two talented women of an Istanbul-based music duo are ready to change Turkish people’s taste in music.

The duo named ‘İstanbulied,’ performing lieder from various composers, is formed of pianist Senem Zeynep Ercan and mezzo-soprano Ekin Bezirganoğlu.

The musicians aim to inspire listeners and other fellow musicians through their innovative music, in which they harmonize classical lied genre with Turkish folk, Turkish classical and tango music.

Speaking to Hürriyet Daily News about their approach, passion for music and future plans, Bezirganoğlu said their music’s main audience did not just consist of present lovers of classical music, but they also aim to reach to those who, in fact, do not like classical music.

Music duo ready to change musical taste of Turkey

“We are trying to be as flexible as we can. Classical music lovers already love our music. But when someone who does not like classical music starts listening to us, we believe we have made an achievement,” she said.

İstanbulied, founded in 2014, aims to perform classical lieder and other various song styles.

“Music with lyrics from different styles is more perceptible and understandable for ordinary listeners,” Ercan said.

“After Gezi protests across Turkey in 2013, I turned my face toward music that is more perceptible, understandable and accessible. I wanted to reach more people; and music is one of the strongest ways to reach people,” Ercan added.

Music duo ready to change musical taste of Turkey

Bezirganoğlu described İstanbulied’s music as “telling short stories like in short films.”

“We are trying to put the listener into different atmospheres with each of our songs. During our concerts, people can listen to a piece by Mozart and Turkish folk songs composed with a modern approach,” Bezirganoğlu said.

İstanbulied gets its name from the duo’s lied music — performed by a vocalist and a pianist — which in the making they get inspired by Istanbul, Turkey’s cultural capital.

“I am an opera singer who has received education in classical vocal techniques. But we are trying to visit different fields [with our songs] without losing our origins and paths. We are open to renewal,” Bezirganoğlu said.

Ercan said classical musicians living in Turkey have in recent years experienced a turning point.

“Musicians of classical music are known as serious people. They usually do not communicate verbally with the audience. But this has started changing now all around the world. One of the reasons behind the change is the decline in government support to classical musicians. The lack of concert halls, lack of staff in opera, ballet, symphonic orchestras and academic institutions have forced musicians to find other ways and be creative. Musicians have established independent chamber music groups and they started to meet with audiences at home concerts, boutique concert halls and private venues,” Ercan added.

Music duo ready to change musical taste of Turkey

Communicating with the audience

Ercan also said musicians, including great orchestras across the world, started to focus on the audience and have begun to change their music according to the audience they have. According to Ercan, the audience of classical music has been getting older.

“People want to know what they listened to. So, we started to talk to our audience. If people know what they listened to, they can live the story behind the pieces,” Bezirganoğlu said.

Ercan stressed on the sizes of concert halls, saying that mobile and small concert halls, like houses where gigs are performed, makes it easier for the musician to communicate with the audience.

Musicians especially of the new generation want to go beyond their limits in music, she added.

“The audience is getting older. If you want to win someone over, you have to work on the area they know very well,” Ercan said.

İstanbulied create their repertoire bearing in mind that they have to catch the attention of young audiences.

At their recitals, the duo gives brief information about the piece they are going to play before performing.

İstanbulied has said they do not want to lose a single audience in their bid to change people’s perception of classical music.

‘Tchaikovsky with electronic music’

“We want to enlarge our platform to meet with an international audience. For example, we can harmonize and later present one of Tchaikovsky’s pieces with electronic music one day. These kinds of trials can be made, as long as it settles as a musical base,” she added.

mert şuşut, mezzo soprano,