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On Musica Mundana Chamber Society
An interview with Aysegul DURAKOGLU

From left to right: Sun Sun Kletzien, violin; Aysegul Durakoglu, piano; Justin Kagan, Cello;
performed together Ilhan Baran's (1934) Transformations for Violin, Cello and Piano (1975)

on November 2, 2003 at the Merkin Music Hall in New York City.

by Light Millennium

Concept of the Musica Mundana:

It has been the concept of music throughout history to be an embracing harmony of the world. Departing from this conception Musica Mundana was founded by Aysegul Durakoglu to embrace the audience through the music of different cultures and backgrounds.

- Where does Musica Mundana means?

Musica Mundana derives from the ancient music theory founded by the Greek philosopher and music theorist, Boethius. It refers to the musical vibrations that surround the Universe and create the harmony of the world. Departing from this conception, I founded Musica Mundana in 1998 to embrace the audiences through the music of different backgrounds and promise musical voyages into the music of the past, present and future.

So, we are very open in the selection of compositions. Usually we work within a conception and select works accordingly from different backgrounds and times. For example, we presented programs of Mediterranean, French, composers' music in various combinations. Musica Mundana is consisting of five permanent musicians and brings together the wide-ranging talents of its members: Aysegul Durakoglu, piano; Justin Kagan, cello; Patricia Kaczmarczyk, flute; San San Kletzien, violin; Sebnem Mekinulov, soprano. We also invite guest artists for our performances.

The members of our Society have performed together in various occasions in the past. Our first musical parthnership occured at the New York University's Chamber Music Society.

Since then, we have premiered numerous works at the Merkin Concert Hall, Aisan Music Festival at Lincoln Center, Harvard Club, Hoboken Art and Music Festival, and Christ and St. Stephen’s Church, and St. Peter’s Concert Series.

- What was the emerging force behind the Alla Turca concert?

Turkish composers have emerged since the birth of the Repuclic of Turkey eighty years ago, in 1923. It was the idea of the great leader of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, to renew the Turkish culture, fine arts, and music and place them in a universal context.

The efforts of the first generation of composers were directed to create a polyphonic character based on the monophonic structures of Turkish folk songs. Later, their work evolved into a more spontaneous style without the direct utilization of the original melodies.

It was my dream to organize a concert program that exhibits the different aspects of Turkish compsers’ music. Together with the members of Musica Mundana and the participant artists, we aimed to take the audiences into this musical journey to celebrate the eightieth year of the Republic of Turkey.

- What was the challenge of the "Alla Turca" concert?

During these years, we were able to learn and perform a wide variety of compositions by Turkish composers. I have to express my gratitude to the members of Musica Mundana for being so dedicated and willing to overcome such repertoire. Although they are very much experienced in new music, the music of Turkish composers contains different challenges such as the complexity of rhythmic structures.

Most of the time, it is my duty to bring insights and play examples during rehearsals. What makes all these efforts rewarding is the appraisal of the quality of these works by musicians and audiences. They all agree that this music is well worthy to be known around the world.

Turkish composers emerged since the birth of the Turkish Republic and their music exhibits different aspects. Some works are heavily based on the Turkish traditional and folk music; some carry only certain elements of Turkish music; and there are also compositions that do not employ them at all..

For longtime, I wanted to perform works presenting various aspects of Turkish composers' music. The 80th Anniversary of the Turkish Republic was the perfect occasion to perform such program. With the generous support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey and the Director of the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office, Mr. Levent Demirel, we were able to present a program of Turkish Composers' Music at Merkin Concert Hall, on November 2, 2003.

- What are the names of  the Contemporary Turkish Classical Music Composers whose pieces you performed during the Alla Turca concert?

The program started with compositions by the first generation of composers. Among them were Necil Kazim Akses, Ilhan Baran, Ulvi Cemal Erkin, Cemal Resid Rey, Adnan Saygun and Ekrem Zeki Un. The reknown, Turkish-American soprano Sebnem Mekinulov sang collection of songs by Turkish Five. The second half consisted of abstract works that did not exhibit the characteristics of Turkish music. Some of them employed electronic music equipment like "Fantasy and Dance" for tape and viols by Bulent Arel, "Closely Farfetched Refrains" for solo piano and tape by Ilhan Mimaroglu, and "Sabah" for solo flute and CD by Ken Walicki. I performed Mimaroglu's piece for the first time and flutist Patricia Kaczmarczyk gave the premier of "Sabah." There were also many US and New York premieres in the program.

_ . _

E-mail: DurakogluPR@aol.com

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