Artists in Conversation: Bilen Işıktaş

Yunus Emre Institute in London and Leighton House are delighted to announce another fascinating series of talks featuring notable contemporary artists, exploring the classical and traditional arts and crafts of Turkey. Through the talks, we aim to showcase Leighton House and Frederic, Lord Leighton’s travels and appreciation of Turkey and highlight the work of the Institute.

Today, we can observe an increased interest in traditional Turkish-Islamic art and music. However much interesting facts and rituals remain unknown and unspoken about. Each talk will explore the path of a different artist, who will provide an insight into their experience and thoughts shaped by their individual area of expertise.

For the fifth talk of the series, we are joined by  Bilen Işıktaş on Tuesday 28th July 2020 at 18:00 as he talks about his musical journey with the Oud and Turkish music culture. The talk will be moderated by Rachel Beckles Willson.

Artists in Conversation

Guest Speaker: Bilen Işıktaş (Oud)

Date: Tuesday 28th July 2020

Time: 18:00 pm (BST)

Online Webinar via ZOOM. This event is FREE but registration is ESSENTIAL ***

For online booking please CLICK HERE.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bilen Işıktaş is a renowned Oud player with both multiple important performances and papers. Bilen studied in the Music Theory and Voice Training Departments of the Turkish Music State Conservatory at Istanbul Technical University (ITU). While studying at the university, he went in search of both trying to improve himself as a performer and discovering the legacy of the great masters who had served before us. With Bekir Şahin Baloğlu and Dr. Sami Dural, they formed the 3Dem Oud Trio. They released the album “Geç” [Late], which consists of a repertoire of musical instruments. In 2008, he started his master’s program on Turkish Music at ITU’s Social Sciences Institute. He graduated in 2011 with his thesis Şerif Muhiddin [Haydar] Targan’s Contribution to Oud Techniques: An Analysis of the 6 Oud Taksims. In June 2009, he placed second in the world in the international oud competition organized by the Arab Music Academy and the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) located in Beirut. He completed his doctorate in 2016 with his doctoral dissertation titled The Relationship between Modernization, Individualization, and Virtuosity in the Transition Period from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic: Şerif Muhiddin Targan. He has taken part in major artistic events with his oud in many places of the world. In addition to his artistic studies, he has continued his academic activities without interruption. He has participated in many international symposiums in Turkey and abroad with his papers, book chapters, and articles. His academic studies has focused on topics such as sociology of music, historical musicology, Ottoman/Turkish music, the effect of modernization on music culture, the Frankfurt School, and popular culture. His first book, Harflerin ve Seslerin Ruhundaki Seyyahlar: Mehmet Âkif Ersoy ve Şerif Muhiddin Targan [Travellers in the Soul of Letters and Sounds: Mehmet Akif Ersoy and Şerif Muhiddin Targan], which was released in 2017, was followed by his book Peygamber’in Dâhi Torunu: Şerif Muhiddin Targan, Modernleşme, Bireyselleşme, Virtüozite [The Prodigious Descendant of the Prophet: Şerif Muhiddin Targan, Modernization, Individualization, Virtuosity], which was published in late 2018. This book won the best biography award for 2018 by the Writers Union of Turkey [Türkiye Yazarlar Birliği]. He still works as a musicologist Assoc. Prof. Dr. in the Istanbul University State Conservatory Department of Musicology.

Rachel Beckles Willson is a composer, multi-instrumentalist and researcher. She discovered the oud while doing research into music in Palestine, and subsequently transformed her music-making. She studied oud with Necati Celik in Istanbul and became a regular student at Labyrinth Musical Seminars in Crete, 2010-2015. While there she worked on makam composition with Ross Daly along with singing, improvising and performing with many celebrated teachers (Christos Barbas, Ahmed Erdogdular, Omer Erdogdular, Harris Lambrakis, Yurdal Tokcan, Evgenios Voulgaris). While participating in the Arab Music Retreat, Massachusetts she also worked with Ali Jihad Racy, Simon Shaheen and Charbel Rohana. As a scholar, she has published numerous articles and books, including Orientalism and Musical Mission: Palestine and the West (2013), and Ligeti, Kurtág, and Hungarian Music during the Cold War (2007). While Professor of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London, she taught courses on Intercultural Performance, Music and Orientalism, and Ensemble Performance among others, and supervised doctoral research on topics from the Hungarian folk revival to Kuwaiti song. After 19 years in academia she is now working freelance, while Professorial Research Associate at SOAS, University of London. Earlier in her life she was a concert pianist, following training at the Royal Academy of Music, London and the Liszt Academy, Budapest, where she was a student of Ferenc Rados and Gyorgy Kurtág. Also a student of composition and saxophone, she performed widely in Europe as soloist and in ensembles, broadcasting regularly for Hungarian radio. Her specialism was new music – repertoire written after 1945, and she had the privilege to work with several major figures including Messiaen, Berio and Kurtág. In 2003 she co-directed a major London Kurtág festival which won the Royal Philharmonic Society Award.

***Sadly not everyone who registers shows up on the day of the event. Therefore, all tickets for our talks are over-issued by a percentage to compensate for ‘no-shows’. Due to this, entrance is subject to webinar capacity and is served on a first-come, first-served basis. This registration/e-Ticket does not guarantee entrance. Thank you for your understanding.

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