Music: Something oud, something new

Turkish musicians bring ancient tunes to modern times at this year's Oud Festival.

No fewer than three different programs of Turkish and Ottoman classical music will be performed at this year's Oud Festival. One of them will feature world-famous bass virtuoso Renaud Garcia-Fons who, despite his rather Western European name, is one of the most highly regarded performers of ancient classic Ottoman music. In this performance, Garcia-Fons will be joined by two other Turkish virtuosos - Derya Turkan on the kamancha and cellist Ogur Isik. The three will present instrumental music originally composed for the Ottoman rulers and first documented in the 17th century. In the third event, Turkish musician Yurdal Tokcan will perform with Israeli Zohar Fresco and US percussionist Ross Daly. "The most interesting thing about this program," says festival artistic director Effy Benaya, "is the mixture of ancient and modern. Renaud is a contemporary composer and world-renowned double bass player. Turkan and Isik are widely acclaimed in Turkey for their work on bringing ancient tunes to modern times, using a mixture of ancient original instruments together. They render both a modern interpretation and a modern arrangement of very traditional classical music. It ends up in a synthesis, allowing our ears to become familiar without betraying its origins, playing virtuoso on ancient and Western music instruments. They just released a CD with this kind of music, and it will be performed here for the first time. It is a great achievement for our festival to see that musicians of such high caliber are interested in performing here." Another Turkish and promising evening is a program of folk tunes from Anatolia, performed by singers and instrumentalists Erkan Ogur (on the kopuz, a kind of small baglama) and Ismail Demircioglu, singer and saz player. "This performance is a troubadour journey in time," says Ogur, in a phone interview from Turkey. "It is folk music, presented as a journey back in time to the most remote and ancient villages of Anatolia, singing the traditional tunes as they have been preserved over the centuries since the early Middle Ages. Folk music is very alive here in Turkey, especially in this region, but we do not sing and play this music only as nostalgia for past times. We keep it alive. Sometimes it might not be the purest, most authentic way, but it is certainly ancient preserved music." Ogur adds that he and his co-performer are thrilled to be performing in Jerusalem, explaining that, "We know exactly what kind of audience we have there. We know the Israelis know and appreciate our music, since Israel is so close to us geographically." Erkan Ogur and Ismail Demircioglu will perform at the Jerusalem Theater on November 29 at 9 p.m. Derya Turkan, Ogur Isik and Renaud Garcia-Fons will perform on December 1 at Beit Shmuel at 9:30 p.m. For more information visit or call 624-5206.