Two-Part Program Highlights Traditional Turkish Music, Cuisine and Culture

November 2, 2018
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In partnership with the Beacon Hill Civic Association, the Beacon Hill Friends House, located at 6 Chestnut St., presents “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” – a two-part program highlighting traditional Turkish music, cuisine and culture – on Thursday, Nov. 8, from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Featured musicians include CerenTurkmenoglu (violin, voice and traditional instruments), who was raised in the Western classical music tradition, and currently performs with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as classical pianist Christos Vayenas, an autodidact and composer who writes new music drawing from the Romantic and Symbolist languages and is the founder and director of the Autumn Salon, a self-described “online magazine and performing arts organization dedicated to the revival and promotion of salon culture.” (Salon music was a popular genre in Europe during the 19th century that Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines as “instrumental music of a light, pleasing, and often sentimental character suitable for the drawing room rather than the concert hall.”)

The evening will begin in the performance hall with Turkmenoglu playing traditional Turkish music on several instruments native to her culture, including the bendir, a wooden- framed drum, and a bowed string instrument called the rebab.

“I’ll demonstrate Turkish instruments and present Turkish music, but also appropriate classical pieces because that’s my background,” said Turkmenoglu, who has also participated in such collaborations as “The Silk Road Ensemble Workshop” and “Music from Where the Sun Rises,” a project for which she was awarded a grant from the Boston Foundation.

Additionally, Turkmenoglu will discuss the Ottoman Empire, also known as the Turkish Empire, which controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries, and she said had “its own classical music tradition at the same time when Baroque music was happening in Europe.”

Following an intermission with Turkish food and wine, guests will adjourn to the drawing room, where Vayenas will perform written and improvisational piano pieces, as well as “talk about music in the 19th century and different cultural experiences that might’ve been happening throughout the city at the same time as these casual type of salon performances,” he said.

The program concludes with an improvisational duet between Turkmenoglu and Vayenas on an Armenian folk song, followed by conversation and a question-and-answer period with the musicians.

“It’s all inspired by the spontaneity of old-world salons,” Vayenas said. “We want to engage the community and bring people together with artists who can teach them about art, music and culture they might not have been exposed to before.”

Patricia Tully, the Civic Association’s executive director, said the program follows the same spirit as “In the Evening at 74,” a concert by the Neave Trio of the Longy School of Music that the group sponsored last November at 74 Joy St.

“The Beacon Hill Civic Association is pleased to collaborate with other Beacon Hill nonprofits, providing opportunities to come together, to learn and to enjoy,” Tully wrote. “Throughout the year, the [Civic Association] presents Historic Preservation Roundtables with the Museum of African American History, Summer Evenings at Otis House with Historic New England and Evening at the Esplanade with Beacon Hill Village, to name a few.”

Admission to “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” is $40 for Civic Association members and residents of the Friends House, and $50 for non-members. Visit https://www.bhcivic.org/upcoming-events.html or call the Civic Association at 617-227-1922 to purchase tickets.

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