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Art as Cultural Diplomacy events, Arts and Identity

Turkish-American Music as Cultural Diplomacy

artsA Concert & Discussion with William Harvey, Director & Founder of Cultures in Harmony, and Sercan Erbas, MA Student at ICD Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies
(Berlin, ICD House; April 26th, 2013)

On April 26th, 2013 ICD Staff, Interns, and MA Students were able to attend a concert and discussion session with William Harvey, an American violinist and Director & Founder of the NGO “Cultures in Harmony,” who is currently working at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music as a conductor of the Afghanistan Youth Orchestra. Alongside Mr. Harvey, MA student Sercan Erbas, who is of Turkish background, played the ney, an end-blown flute that figures predominantly in Middle Eastern music. The ney has been played consistently for 4,500 – 5,000 years, making it the oldest musical instrument still in use.
The performance session began with a brief introduction by Mr. Harvey to the logistics of such a meeting between Western music, in the form of the violin, and Middle Eastern music, in the form of the ney. Mr. Harvey’s organization, Cultures in Harmony, was founded in 2005 in order to forge connections across cultural and national barriers through the medium of music. Cultures in Harmony organizes collaborative projects fostering lasting relationships between American musicians from top US conservatories and musicians from various other parts of the world. Through the universal language of music, these projects encourage cross-cultural dialogue and improve relations between the US and the rest of the world. In this sense, Mr. Harvey is accustomed to bridging the gap between the music of western compositions and musicians and that of other musicians from cultures, especially those in the Middle East.
On April 26th, 2013 ICD Staff, Interns, and MA Students were able to attend a concert and discussion session with William Harvey, an American violinist and Director & Founder of the NGO “Cultures in Harmony,” who is currently working at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music as a conductor of the Afghanistan Youth Orchestra. Alongside Mr. Harvey, MA student Sercan Erbas, who is of Turkish background, played the ney, an end-blown flute that figures predominantly in Middle Eastern music. The ney has been played consistently for 4,500 – 5,000 years, making it the oldest musical instrument still in use.

The compositions played during the duet consisted of traditional Turkish songs by famous composer M. Nurettin Selçuk and poet Yunus Emre. The song titles included ‘Rivers of Heaven’ and ‘ I Asked the Yellow Flower’, which gave an insight into the music of Turkey and the themes it encompasses. MA student Sercan Erbas described the experience as eye-opening, saying that “[it is] good to see Western instruments tuning into Eastern instruments and music. This kind of tuning in is also needed in International Relations.” Erbas continued to say that although “sometimes it is difficult to solve international conflicts, today showed me that all you need is patience and communication.”

The successful performance session was followed by an interactive discussion where a number of topics were examined. Mr. Harvey shared his experiences of meeting people who did not know how to read music and how different cultures interpret music differently. He emphasized the fact that in the Middle East it is often the case that pieces of music get passed down through generations, being slightly modified every time. This makes for a very different musical experience than in Western musical traditions, in which musical compositions are emulated as much as possible. Mr. Harvey added that he thinks the Western classical music culture could learn from this more creative facet of the Eastern musical tradition.

During the discussion, Mr. Harvey was asked whether there are combinations of instruments that simply do not work. In his answer, he referred to another very important concept in politics, the necessity of knowing when to sit back and simply watch. It is important to know when your instrument simply does not fit with the rest, and in these cases you must be able to give your place up for someone else. Overall, the concert and discussion session proved very informative and educational and was a unique opportunity for the audience to participate in Cultural Diplomacy in action.

For more picture, please click here

Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies Publication
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy
www.ccds-berlin.de
www.culturaldiplomacy.org

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About icdblogsphereteam

We are the Blogsphere Team of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy. We are the interactive part of the web resources of ICD. We spread culture and mutual understanding among cultures through blogs.

Discussion

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