Singing songs of fraternity in New York for peace

Singing songs of fraternity in New York for peace

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Singing songs of fraternity in New York for peace

Renowned oud player Ara Dinkjian and Grammy-award-winning musician Arto Tunçboyacıyan will take the stage with Kardeş Türküler in New York. Hürriyet photo

Kardeş Türküler (Songs of Fraternity), a Turkish band founded on the ideal of peaceful fraternity, will perform in New York next week. The lineup will also include oud player Ara Dinkjian and Grammy-winner Arto Tunçboyacıyan

The praise from Ara Dinkjian, an American-Armenian musician that is known as one of the top oud players in the world, was evident. “I have appeared in concert with Kardeş Türküler three times since 2009. I have come to know them as individuals, and I’ve come to understand more clearly their political message, which is one of multiculturalism, tolerance, respect, and diversity. In other words, they use music to remind us what we as humans have in common.”

Dinkjian will be taking the stage with Kardeş Türküler (Songs of Fraternity), the Istanbul-based musical group founded on the ideal of peaceful fraternity, next Sunday in New York’s Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Center. The ensemble lineup will also feature Istanbul’s Arto Tunçboyacıyan, the Grammy-winning musician of Turkish-Armenian descent on percussions and vocals.

The collaborative performance will feature an eclectic blend of music of Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Roma and Armenian origin, with traditional Anatolian, Middle Eastern and Balkan instruments. The concert is organized by the Moon and Stars Project, an organization dedicated to promoting the changing face of Turkey’s arts and culture scene and establishing a two-way cultural interaction between the United States and Turkey.

‘It is such a rare treat’

The project “incorporates traditional and contemporary programs in music, visual arts, theater and film, as well as project sponsorships, grants, and scholarships,” Binnaz Saktanber, the Moon and Stars Project’s arts and culture director, recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Our initiatives have drawn an outpouring of support from the community, both in the United States and in Turkey, and from local and international organizations.” The project’s most famous event is perhaps the annual New York Turkish Film Festival.

“We couldn’t be prouder of hosting this great ensemble of tremendous musicians in front of a New York audience. It is such a rare treat to have Kardeş Türküler, Arto Tunçboyacıyan and Ara Dinkjian all together in concert,” said Saktanber. On a sad note, however, the Van earthquake in eastern Turkey has changed the anticipation toward the concert.

“I regret that we couldn’t host Kardeş Türküler for their first New York performance under happier circumstances. The devastation of eastern Turkey is deeply and tremendously affecting for all of us with ties to the region,” Saktanber said.

The ideals of Kardeş Türküler, as well as the other musicians, have greater meaning today. “Now, more than ever, the band’s overriding mission of harmony in the face of discord and their desire to bridge intercultural rifts through shared musical and artistic heritage is one that resonates and sustains us at the Moon and Stars Project in the face of this tragedy. It is our hope that Kardeş Türküler’s message of peace and artistry will draw attention and support to the survivors of the Van catastrophe,” she said.

The sentiments of Feryal Akkaya, one of the vocalist in Kardeş Türküler, sounded a similar note. “We are looking forward to meeting once again with Arto Tunçboyacıyan and Ara Dinkjian, being their guests … and singing with them to express our longing for peace and fraternity from Anatolia to America, from America to Mesopotamia,” Akkaya said.

“[It is our goal] to give strength and to extend our hands to our brothers and sisters struck by the earthquake in Van, the land of ancient peoples,” Akkaya said.

In the wake of the vastly destructive Van earthquake that struck Turkey on Oct. 23, the Moon and Stars Project has chosen to donate all proceeds from the concert to The American Turkish Society Earthquake Fund to aid in the ongoing humanitarian efforts in the affected area, Saktanber said.

Kardeş Türküler was first formed in 1993 as part of a concert project organized by the Folklore Club of Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University. Representing the multicultural diversity of Anatolia, the band has since released six albums, performed in over 100 concerts, and even won the Best Film Music award at the Golden Orange Film Festival in 2001.

It is the band’s first time in the United States. “Having presented the multilingual songs, ‘strans’ and ‘governds’ of the various peoples of Anatolia, Mesopotamia and Thrace for almost 20 years, Kardeş Türküler is excited to perform in the United States,” Akkaya said.

The very first meeting of Dinkjian, the founder of Night Ark, a quartet performing a blend of jazz and Anatolian music, and Kardeş Türküler goes back to 2009, “when they invited my father, Onnik Dinkjian, an Armenian folk singer, and me to join them as special guests at their concert in Diyarbakır,” the oud master said. “This is the city of my grandparents’ birth, a city which once had a thriving Armenian population. Kardeş Türküler understood the profound meaning of our ‘return’ to this great city.” Now, another city is about to get a taste of their brand of fraternity, peace and harmony, all relayed through a shared musical heritage