Refugee musicians play in Turkey’s camps

Refugee musicians play in Turkey’s camps

KİLİS - Anadolu Agency
Refugee musicians play in Turkey’s camps A 22-year-old Turkish musician is changing the lives of Syrian people living at Turkey’s Elbeyli refugee camp in the southern province of Kilis.        

Mustafa Ertekin has formed a music group for Syrian performers who have fled the war in their own country to revive their profession and culture inside and outside a refugee camp that is home to 24,000 people.      
The musical group is composed of 11 refugees and “orchestra chief” Ertekin, who has made a concerted effort to find players to fill what he called a “gap” in the camp – namely the lack of music.

“It was very tiring at the beginning,” says Ertekin when asked how the idea of forming the group arose. He firstly wandered across the province for a long time and before telling camp officials about his idea.

He says he was lucky to find the most of the group members at the camp after getting official approval from the Kilis governorate.

The group, called Mustafa Ertekin and His Orchestra, performs concerts and play at welcoming ceremonies for national and international officials visiting the camp and on special days such as Children’s Day, held annually in Turkey on April 23.

“Music is viewed as a hobby by some people, but my purpose is to make these Syrians express themselves with music,” he says, describing the work of the group as a “long-term” effort.

Explaining the roles of the members, who were musicians in Syria before the war, Ertekin said six played instruments, three were vocalists and two others, including one female performer, were soloists.

In the white container where they practice, up to 11 instruments could be seen, including an oud, a violin, a bağlama (an instrument with three double strings), a cumbus (a mandolin with a metal body), a ney (a reed flute) and a drum.

The non-profit group mostly plays Turkish classical music, sometimes blending Turkish and Arabic songs during their performance.

Some of the group members have even become registered teachers at schools inside the camp who teach music to Syrian children.