Multiculturalism At Its Best!
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.
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 Turkish Canadian instrumentalists as well the Turkish choir with a band has had a new and enriched presence.
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.
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 Çınarlı
Pictures by Mesut Orhan