The Kardeş Türküler


Kardeş Türküler came into being in 1993, as a concert project by the Boğaziçi University Folklore Club. The concert, which aimed to interpret Anatolian folksongs based on their own cultural structure and in their original languages, was comprised of four sections: Turkish, Kurdish, Azerbaijani and Armenian.

The project, based on the ideal of living together in fraternity, also took a stand against the polarization and tensions which had been created among different peoples in a multicultural land. Later on, the Kardeş Türküler project began broadening its repertoire, performing songs from such cultures as Laz, Georgian, Circassian, Roma, Macedonian and Alevi among others. These were arranged in accordance with the philosophy of the ensemble.

The project took its place within the musical division of Boğaziçi Performing Arts Ensemble (BGST), formed in 1995, and went on to be performed at a variety of arts events, cultural evenings, festivals and celebrations. In June of 1997, 'Kardeş Türküler'-an album with various examples from the musical traditions of the Anatolian/Mesopotamian landscape- was released by Kalan Music. In 1998, Kardeş Türküler was voted 'Group of the Year' in a survey by a private radio station broadcasting in Turkey.

The second album was based on a project with a more local and specific focus:'Doğu' (East) (Kalan,1999) The 'Doğu' album was reviewed in the July 2000 issue of Folk Roots, and during the same period, came in fourth on the playlist of the English station Radio Not-Wonderful. In February 2000, two of the songs interpreted by the ensemble were included in the CD accompanying Jerome Cler's book 'Musiques de Turquie' (Cité de la Musiques, Actes Sud, France).

One piece from 'Doğu' was also included in a miscellaneous album accompanying the October issue of Songlines, which was devoted to Anatolian music. Folk Roots, in its January-February 2001 issue, included another of the ensemble's songs. The same magazine published an interview with Kardeş Türküler in its August-September 2002 issue. The German magazine Folker! made an interview with the ensemble and it was published in its May-June 2002 issue.

The ensemble also undertook to bring the multiculturalism and multi-ethnic makeup of its own land in a music video, in Turkish and Kurdish, as an example of cultural give-and-take in the musical realm. Though the video, as a 'first', was reported in the main news programs, it did not receive wide coverage by the self-censoring national channels. Still, it received positive feedback from circles devoted to fraternity and peace.

Kardeş Türküler performed the musical direction and arrangement of the famous Kurdish singer Şivan Perwer's album 'Roj û Heyv' (Sun and Moon) (Ses, 2000). It then prepared the music for the eastern-themed film 'Vizontele', directed by Yılmaz Erdoğan and Ömer F. Sorak. This work, also published as a soundtrack (Kalan, 2001), received the award for 'Best Film Music' at the 38th Annual Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival in October 2001. It received the same award from the Cinema Writer's Association.

In 2002, being prepared again with the concept of multiculturalism, the 'Hemâvâz' album (Kalan, 2002) also reached the international audience with its release (Connecting Cultures, 2003) in Europe. The last album, which was made up of the musics of the movie 'Vizontele Tuuba', directed by Yılmaz Erdoğan, was released by Kalan Music in January 2004.

The story of the Kardeş Türküler Project

The Project came onto the scene for the first time in 1993, as a concert project organized by the Bo ğaziçi University Folklore Club . The repertoire of this concert was composed of Turkish, Kurdish, Azerbaijani and Armenian songs. Later on, they turned to various other cultures, and enriched their repertoire with Laz, Gerogian, Circassian, Romani, Macedonian, and Alevi songs and dances.

The musicians and dancers who perform with the Kardeş Türküler Project were among the founding members of the Boğaziçi Performıng Arts Ensemble (BGST), founded in 1995. Projects, concerts, dance music performances and albums that followed continued within the larger body of the BGST.

Their first album was released in 1997 by Kalan Müzik . This album, called “Kardeş Türküler,” presented examples from the musical cultures of Anatolia and Mesopotamia . Composed of pieces selected from concerts performed over nearly four years, the album emphasized the ideals of multiculturalism and the brotherhood of peoples.

In1998, the Kardeş Türküler was chosen “Group of the Year” in a survey performed by a private radio station. Shortly thereafter the core members produced a second album with a more local and specific focus: “Do ğu” (The East - Kalan, 1999). Encompassing the Eastern Anatolian and Mesopotamian regions, and emphasizing the multiculturalism and exchange between those cultures, the “ Doğu ” project included one of the project's first compositions.

The “D oğu ” album, which was featured in the July 2000 issue of Folk Roots magazine, also came in fourth on the playlist England 's Radio Not-Wonderful. in February 2000, two songs from the album were included in a CD supplement to the book, “Musiques de Turquie,” prepared by Jérôme Cler and published in France by Cité de la Musiques / Actes Sud.

Another song from “D oğu ” was included in a compilation album which accompanied Songlines magazine's September album, devoted to the music of Anatolia . And Folk Roots magazine once again included two songs from “D oğu ” in a compilation CD supplement to its January-February 2001 issue.

The August-September 2002 issue of the same magazine featured an interview with Kardeş Türküler, and the German magazine Folker! included an interview with the group in its May-June 2002 issue.

The Kardeş Türküler Project strove to bring their country's multicultural, multiethnic structure into the public eye with the first-ever Turkish-Kurdish video ( Kara Üzüm Habbesi ). Although the video of this song, considered to be a musical example of intercultural exchange, became the subject of a news bulletin, the clip was not much shown on the self-censoring Turkish national channels. Still, it received positive reactions from those circles which cared about brotherhood and peace. The Project's second video featured a Kurdish work song, “ Mîrkut.” This video also included the dance that was choreographed for the dance-music performances of the song.

In September 2000, the core group of Kardeş Türküler directed and arranged the music for the album “Roj û Heyv,” by the famous Kurdish musician Şivan Perwer, who now resides in Europe . Following this they went on to prepare the music for Yılmaz Erdoğan and Ömer F. Sorak's film “Vizontele,” and Erdoğan' “Vizontele Tuba.” The sountrack for “Vizontele” was released by the Kalan Müzik label in 2001, followed by that of “Vizontele Tuuba” in 2004.

The soundtrack of “Vizontele” received the “Best Soundtrack” award at the September 2001 38th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, and received the same award from the Cinema Writers' Association (SİYAD).

In 2002, the album “Hemâvâz” (Kalan, 2002), also conceived within the concept of multiculturalism, reached an international audience with its European edition (Connecting Cultures, 2003). The Project's most recent album, “Bahar,” was also released under the Kalan label in 2005. “Bahar” was devoted to the spring festivals which, for the peoples of Anatolia , Thrace and Mesopotamia , symbolize rebirth, and stressed the hope of living together.


Concerts / Performances

Since 1994, Kardeş Türküler has performed over 130 concerts in İstanbul, Kocaeli, Düzce, Samsun , Ankara , İzmir, Mersin , Bursa , Altınoluk, Denizli, Adana , Antakya , Urfa , Mardin, Antep, Diyarbakır , Eskişehir , İzmit, Van, Hakkari, Varto, Çanakkale, Batman, Tunceli and Cyprus. The ensemble has also taken part in many festivals. In addition to tours of Anatolia , Kardeş Türküler has also participated in culture and arts festivals throughout Turkey as well as various university activities, and at times shares the stage with other artists as well. Among such collaborations was a concert in Istanbul with Armenian duduk master Djivan Gasparian.

In Kardeş Türküler's dance and music performances, given each year since 2000 in the Cemil Topuzlu Harbiye Open -Air Theatre , it has shared the stage with students from the Boğaziçi University Folklore Club as well as several other artists. Among these artists who have joined the Ensemble at Cem il Topuzlu are Aynur and Hakkari Dengb êjleri.

Since 1998, the Kardeş Türküler Project has also taken part in a variety of tours, festivals and other activities in Europe. The ensemble has given sixty concerts in the Netherlands ( Rotterdam , Amsterdam , Utrecht , Den Hag), Switzerland (Zürich, Münchenstein), Belgium ( Gent , Roeselare , Leopoldsburg, Dendermonde, Genk , Brussels ), England ( London ), Germany ( Leverkusen , Kemnade-Bochum, Stuttgart , Munich , Berlin , Köln , Hamburg , Frankfurt , Dortmund , Rudolstadt, Essen ), France ( Paris , Strasbourg , Lyon ), Spane (Cartegena) and Austria ( Vienna ). Kardeş Türküler has also performed in the Turks Muziekfestival (The Netherlands), Intercultureel Torrepoort (Belgium), Culturele Week Turkije (The Netherlands), Kemnade International (Germany), Köprü (Bridge) Turkije Festival (The Netherlands), 3e Strasbourg-Mediterranee (France), Rudolstadt (Germany), Cartegena (Spaın), Şimdi-Now (Belgium, Germany) and Stimmen (Switzerland) festivals, sometimes in a concert, and other times in a dance-music performance format.


Voices United

In a Kardeş Türküler performance at the Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre in June 2006, they shared the stage with amateur choruses and musicians of Istanbul and Diyarbakır , and presented a dance-music show with 140 people onstage. The show was a more concrete expression onstage of the desire for different languages, religions and cultures to be able to live together.

In the show, along with the BGST and the Boğaziçi University Folklore Club (BÜFK) were performances by the Sayat Nova Chorus, the Laz Women's Chorus, Dalepe Nena, Rom musicians Sarıköyl ü Tevfik and Friends, the Diyarbakır Municipal Children's Chorus and the Gêdén Bajer Rhythm Ensemble, which is made of Mitrib children and works under the auspices of the Diyarbakır Municipality. With this “Voices United” event, Kardeş Türküler's aim was to organize a joint performance based on solidarity; and make yet a more powerful demand for “societal peace.” In years to come, some of the projects planned within the Kardeş Türküler project include research together with amateur music groups/ensembles; sharing the results of such research with the public by means of various magazines, books and other publications; and, bringing together all this organizational experience, exhibit the resulting product as they did in the “Voices United” project.


The Musical Possibilities of the Kardeş Türküler Project

In the cities visited during the course of all these concerts, there were a great many conferences held with audience participation in which the Kardeş Türküler Project was discussed within the context of audience comments and questions. Since 2005, a presentation entitled “ The Mus ical Possiblities of the Kardeş Türküler Project ” has been transmitting the organizational experience gained over ten years to the listeners by means of playing examples of Kardeş Türküler arrangements. At the conclusion of the presentation, some songs are performed together with the audience. So far this presentation has been given in Diyarbakır , Istanbul and Ankara , and will continue to be taken to various university campuses and events.