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The Project

BTMK - Ensemble und Chor

Coincidence, will and perseverance. These are things that say a lot about the oud player and music teacher Nuri Karademirli.At the age of nineteen, during a concert tour to Berlin in 1969, Nuri's mother, who was accompanying him, became seriously ill. He broke off the tour and stayed in Germany to be with his mother.  He began to work as a music teacher and in 1978 founded the first Turkish Choir Berlin, in the district of Wedding. But he had a plan.


He dreamed of founding a Conservatory for Turkish music in Germany. From conception to realization it took 14 years, and finally in 1998, after much planning and persuasion, his idea came to fruition.  The prestigious School of Turkish Music in Kreuzberg has now been inspiring young Turkish musicians for many years.  The average age of the music students is twenty-five and Karademirli is proud to be able to inspire young people to learn about Turkish music.


The songs recorded by the Choir of the Conservatory for the project 'Heimatlieder' are composed in the style of Turkish art music - the Turkish 'neo-classical' music. They originated in the first half of the 20th Century and are now so well-known - and so often sung - that they have actually become almost 'folk' songs! Karademirli therefore calls them as such.  Turkish classical music has its origins in the Ottoman palaces of the 14th Century and has been developed over the ensuing eras. The main difference with Western European music is that it has a more meticulous division of tone steps. In the temperate European music, there are half and whole tone steps, in Turkish music up to nine partials in a whole step! This results in numerous intervals that are composed in different scales. Such a scale or melody type is called a makam (pl. makamlar) At the end of the 17th Century, there were around nine hundred such makamlar - of which around eighty are still played today. Makamlar are often named after their place of origin, for example the Hicâz makam (Arabic: al-iǧāz, literally 'the barrier') - named after the region that lies on the Red Sea in modern-day Saudi Arabia. It is in this scale that the two songs - chosen by the choir for 'Heimatlieder' - are written. This makam demands unanimity between vocal and instrument, between choir and orchestra.

The Choir of the Conservatory is accompanied by classical Turkish and European instruments: the oud (plucked, short-necked unfretted lute), violin, clarinet (the latter two having played a role in Turkish classical music for the last 150-200 years), the ney (reed flute), the kanun (zither) and various percussive instruments. The kanun, a triangular-shaped zither, was invented around the 10th century, but was specialized by Istanbul composer Haci Arif Bey in the 19th Century, who 'finger-plucked' the strings - as opposed to using sticks.  All instrumentalists of the choir were trained at the Berlin Conservatory, where they also learned how to build instruments.

'Adalardan bir yar gelir bizlere' ('The Mistress Of The Island Comes To Me') is a love song of a man who describes the beauty of his coquettish lover. The song comes from the Aegean region of Turkey and was composed by Yesârî Asım Arsoy (1900-1992) a composer of Turkish classical music, and also a saz (long-necked lute) and oud player.  'Çok yaşa sen Ayşe' ('Long Live Ayse!') is a celebration of the 'village beauty' Ayse, who is unrivaled in her exquisiteness and is extremely popular and much courted.  The song expresses a desire for her to lead a fortunate and fulfilled life.  The style of the song is a mix of European and Turkish influences and was composed by Istanbul musician Muhlis Sabahâttin Ezgi (1890-1947), who had considerable success in the 1930s with operetta compositions and later with film music - for the Turkish filmmaker Muhsin Ertuğrul.

Adalardan bir yar gelir bizlere

Çok yaşa sen Ayşe