|Songs of fraternity heard from Cretan mountains|
|“Zorba the Greek,” the magnum opus of Nikos Kazantzakis also adapted for film, tells about Crete. The novel’s main character, Zorba, had learned to play santuri from a Turk, Recep Efendi, who comes from a different faith and tradition.|
A santuri resembles a kanun and combines the characteristics of a stringed instrument and a percussion instrument, and it means sorrow for Zorba. But for most of the time, it brings jubilation and enthusiasm. This is why he feels indebted to his teacher who trained him. “He is a completely different person,” he says. Today, in Crete, Zorba’s homeland, a forgotten tradition is being revived. Grandsons of music lover Recep Efendi and Zorba are teaching each other how to make music and practicing music (meşk) and empathizing with each other.
Moreover, an Irish musician, Ross M. Daly, aged 60, who wasn't born here but deserved more than anyone else to belong here, leads all this. Houdetsi, an alpine village located to the south of Crete's capital Heraklion, has a respected music school that is open all year round.
The Labyrinth Music Workshop is having a double celebration this year. They are marking the 30th anniversary of their establishment (in Athens) and the 10th anniversary of their move to the village of Houdetsi. Daly, the mastermind behind the workshop, has already turned Houdetsi, with a population of 800 people, into an international center of traditional music. "We are covering all forms of traditional music ranging from Africa to China and the countries in between," says Daly. He is particularly picky about teachers. "Only a good teacher who loves and performs his/her job well is of any interest to me. I invite such a person again and again." So far, students from 35 countries have attended these seminars. About 400 students have participated in the sessions held in one-week periods during the summer. About 200 students participate in November and April sessions. Each teacher is a master of their respective areas and a virtuoso of their respective instruments. Daly's army of volunteers includes Derya Türkan, Murat Aydemir, Ömer Erdoğdular and Yurdal Tokcan.
This year, one of two youngest students of the workshop is Nikos Papageorgiou. Just 16 years old, he is from Pyrgos, a city on the Morean peninsula, now known as the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece. He has developed an interest in music from an early age and his discovery of the tambur meant a new era in his musical quest. Hearing that Aydemir, the world-famous master of this instrument, was giving lessons in Houdetsi, he headed for the village. The story of Gkila Chrysanthi, who is also 16, is similar. Gkila has played piano for 10 years and has been learning classical kemençe since the age of 13. What brought him to this alpine village in the middle of the Mediterranean is Türkan.
Music has served as a cultural bridge between the two countries. Musicians from Turkey and Germany, such as Muhittin Temel, Adnan Üzülmez and Serap Giritli, play together with Greece's next generation of musical geniuses such as Martha Mavroidi and Christos Barbas. Although everyone can speak English, the participants of the workshop prefer to communicate in Greek or Turkish.
Fotini Kokkala is a cut above the rest. At 23, she came to Turkey through the Erasmus program to work on her thesis, "The use of violoncello in Turkish music from the Ottoman era to the establishment of the Turkish Republic," at Yıldız Technical University. She has been a frequent attendee of Houdetsi since 2005. She plays kanun and violoncello and has been learning classical kemençe for two years. At every opportunity, she visits Ömer Erdoğdular in İstanbul's Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) and listens to good stories and together they read books. For the time being, she is not planning to leave Turkey.
Peter Jaques, aged 39, is a musical wanderer who has traveled and lived in and around the Balkans in his quest for clarinet music. Selim Sesler, the famed master of clarinet of Turkey, has a special place for him. "Perhaps I'll never be a master in the Turkish style, but I'll continue to work to become one," he says. He has come to Crete to learn makams (modalities of Turkish music). He likes to depict the environment as a "musical monastery."
Twenty-four-year-old Christina Lona, who hails from southern Cyprus, has studied philosophy at university and obtained a master's degree. She has been receiving kemençe lessons from Greek teacher Sokratis Sinopoulos since September and here she can focus on her lessons. With her friend Fotis Anaglostopoulos (20), she works on kemençe for hours after the lessons.
Being a leading authority on traditional music in Greece, Sinopoulos says: "It is only for the last 10 years that an emphasis has been placed on traditional music. The university in Thessaloniki, where I lecture, is one of them. Yet, we have many problems. Recent developments have been made possible only thanks to the efforts of certain people." In particular, he draws attention to two instruments: the ney and the tambur. He explains that these characteristically classical Turkish-Ottoman instruments have only recently received heightened interest in Greece.
Last week, three famous Turkish teachers, namely Erkan Oğur, classical kemençe virtuoso Türkan and tambur teacher Aydemir, gave lectures. Türkan says the magnet behind this place is Daly. "He is musically very open-minded," she says. She notes there are many students who are ambitious to learn to play kemençe coming from such diverse countries as Austria and India. "Prominent musicians who only appear in festivals are here spending days and nights with students for a week. Even the village has seen changes. When I first came here, there was no cafe. We had only one market. But now, restaurants and cafeterias have mushroomed around the workshop. The owner of the restaurant prepares the breakfast, brings goat cheese and puts Tanburi Cemil Bey's CD into the music box for me. There is such a sensitivity here," she says. Türkan draws attention to the advantages of a flexible participation model. "People may have just been introduced to each other, but they go inside and play together. It does not matter which instruments they are playing. Two rhythm makers come out and play the music. Just for the love of it and for practice. People converse with each other. Every year, I have at least 15 students. Some 30-40 people attend Ömer Erdoğdular's ney lessons. For me, it would be enough if I can train one or two people out of 10 million Greeks," she says.
Aydemir attended the Labyrinth Music Workshop's seminars for the second time this year. "I am a newbie in this workshop. Europe has finally discovered the tambur. Last year I had seven students; today I have 13. The number of students doubled all of a sudden. I didn't know there are so many tambur students in Greece." He is both puzzled and happy about this surge in interest. "Even in Turkey, so few people know this instrument or want to listen to it. However, the tambur is one of the two instruments specific to Turks; the other is the ney. It is an instrument that had its heyday in Ottoman İstanbul. It is a full-fledged Ottoman palace instrument."
In Houdetsi, there are also those who cannot play any instrument or those who attend the lessons as observers, although they know how to play the relevant instrument. Yet, Aydemir draws attention to an important detail about the learning process. "There is a system of learning which is denounced by academic circles in Turkey. It is the meşk system. This is the system employed here. You play and you show people how to play, and you listen to how the student plays. The student sits in front of his/her teacher. As in the old days. You sit in front of your teacher and you work until your teacher acknowledges that you have mastered it. This is what we call meşk. And the learning or teaching system employed here is meşk. As a matter of fact, music cannot be learned through any other method," he says.
Labyrinth is also a museum of traditional musical instruments. People of all ages visit it. A whopping 250 musical instruments collected by Daly from around the world are put on display here. Any student is free to try or use any instrument. There is a heightened interest in percussion instruments. The ud (oud) is one of the favorites. According to Daly's observations, the interest in rebab, Afghan and Azeri music is on the rise.
The seminars started on July 2 and will end on Sept. 8. During this period, 30 separate seminars will be held. According to the program, nine traditional instrument players from Turkey will give lessons on the tambur, ney, kopuz, guitar, classical kemençe, saz/bağlama, ud and kanun. Teachers of traditional music from Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Italy, Ireland and France will lecture on how to play 18 different instruments, as well as on the musical scene in their respective countries.
Daly: Ney represents urban music
The ney does not exist in traditional Greek music. In Greece, traditional music belongs to the country. Just like the people's music (halk müziği) in Turkey. Unlike in Turkey, there is no classical music that appeals to the elite in Greece. The urban areas failed to produce a traditional musical style -- or if it ever existed, it has since been lost. The increased interest from Greek youths has led urban groups to shift toward traditional music, in particular that produced in Turkey. Today, the roots of urban music in Turkey can be found in the Ottoman era. This form of traditional music would be performed also by people from other nations in the Ottoman Empire, such as the Greeks, the Armenians and the Jews. Part of this traditional music arrived in Greece via immigrants in the early 20th century, and it has flourished here. Thus, Greeks are historically connected to Turkey.
|Selahattin Sevi / Hasan Hacı Crete Today's Zaman|