Multiculturalism At Its Best!

Vancouver Turkish Choir at the European Festival, May 31, 2014 / Photo by Nazim Edeer

Canadians playing Turkish music at a Greek Festival in Vancouver! This is what I call multiculturalism, and Vancouverites are doing an excellent job at it.

VTC at the European Festival- Kate Gerson (clarinet)

The Vancouver Turkish Choir (VTC) currently is an ensemble composed of singers and instrumentalists from various ethnic backgrounds and ages, who all love traditional Turkish music. The ensemble's members have diverse professional "day jobs", and like to get together for the hobby that they are passionate about. In 2008 when TCS screened "Desperate Hours" and my film "Land of Exodus and Beauty" at the Pacific Cinematheque, I invited Musiki Parea to play music. I thought adding traditional Greek and Turkish live music would complement these films and the event very well. I knew Laura Blumenthal of Musiki Parea, who accepted the invitation. The screening of the two films with the band's lovely music in between was a great success. On that day, organizer of the Turkish choir Demet Edeer met Musiki Parea, and had a vision. She invited the band to play with the choir, and the rest is history. Since 2008 with the addition of some TurkishCanadian instrumentalists as well the Turkish choir with a band has had a new and enriched presence.

VTC at the European Festival. From left, first row: Laura Blumenthal (santouri), Erika Gerson (tamboirine), second row: Bahar Çinarli, Demet Edeer, Özge Göktepe, Tulen Çankaya; third row: Jacob de Camillis, Alper Dama, Ali Ergüdenler (vocalists).
VTC at the European Festival. From left, first row: Mark Hamilton (guitar), Laura Blumenthal (santouri), Erika Gerson (tambourine), Kate Gerson (clarinet); 2nd row: Yeshare Sonay, Bahar Çinarli, Özge Göktepe, Tulen Çankaya, Aysegül Dogar; 3rd row: Sema Kutay Aydede, Senkal Öztürkler, Ali Ergüdenler, Sapideh Salimi.
At the Greek Summer Festival, June 27, 2014. Three of the Vancouver Turkish Choir musicians celebrating immediately after their performance; from left: Laura Blumenthal (santouri), Bahar Cinarli (vocalist), Lisa Ronald (clarinet). Greek Fest photos are taken by Aliriza Quluncu

The VTC increased its visibility in 2014, appearing in 3 festivals in the first half of the year: Lyrids Folk Dance Festival, Eurofest BC, and the Greek Summerfest. The repertoire was comprised of wellknown and popular traditional Turkish songs, such as "Kızılcıklar Oldu mu", "Muhabbet Bağı", "Vardar Ovası", "Kalenin İçinde Taş Ben Olaydım", "Tel Tel Taradım Zülfünü" and so on. The talented Kate Gerson's clarinet solo in "Penceresi Yola Karşı" always receives a big applause. I truly enjoy going to the practices. Sevgi Doğan's cheerful personality and dynamic conducting added to the joy and quality this year. The ensemble continues to have a very amateur soul; at each practice there are a few members who cannot attend, but their places are eagerly filled by newcomers, or some who only join in every now and then. While this presents some difficulties during performances, it also provides extra fun during the practices. Şenkal Öztürkler, one of the most dedicated longterm members, would never miss a practice. Also, the recent addition of Adam Balmoral was most welcome in the vocals department. Playing, singing, and possibly having to improvise on the spot with a slightly different ensemble each time is invigorating. Practices occasionally are almost like jam sessions. Interested people only have to bring their instruments (or their voices) and show up.

VTC at the EuroFest. From left, Sevgi Dogan (conductor), Mark Hamilton (guitar), vocalists: Sema Kutay Aydede, Yeshare Sonay, Senkal Öztürkler.
Vancouver Turkish Choir at Lyrids Folk Dance Festival, April 26, 2014
Vancouver Turkish Choir at the Greek Summer Festival, June 27, 2014. On the left: Sevgi Dogan (conductor); instrumentalists from left: Lisa Ronald (clarinet), Ilyas Kayran (darbukka), Erman Yavuz (guitar), Mark Hamilton (laouto), Laura Blumenthal (santouri); vocalists: Özge Göktepe, Bahar Çinarli, Filiz Bingöller, Bahar Yilmaz, Irem Cingoz, Burcu Koçer
VTC at the EuroFest. Özge Göktepe while singing "Vardar Ovasi", next to her, Erika Gerson (tambourine)

Organizer Demet Edeer, with her diligent approach, is the force behind the choir. Laura Blumenthal plays the santouri, Mark Hamilton laouto/guitar, Erman Yavuz guitar, İlyas Kayran darbuka, Erika Gerson tambourine, Lisa Ronald and Kate Gerson clarinet, Nesrin and Çağla Altıntaş violin.

By Bahar Çinarli

Pictures by Mesut Orhan

July-August 2014

Old Articles by Bahar Cinarli:
April 23 Children's Festival By TCS Was Delightful
West Turns Blind Eye to Oppression of Secularists in Turkey
A Fascinating Recital By Deniz Tahberer And Wenwen Du
Ice Cream, I Scream!
Two films represented Turkey at the VIFF
Three Monkeys, another fascinating film of N. B. Ceylan
A Standing Ovation For The Young Talent Deniz Tahberer
The Band's Visit (Birkur Ha-Tizmoret-2007)