Cambridge: Ottoman Sufi Music & Culture | Lecture & Concert

This February, experience an authentic performance of a centuries-old ritual that unites the mind, the heart, and the body through the universal language of music and movement.

Yunus Emre Institute London presents the Ottoman Sufi Music & Culture | Lecture & Concert that will take place at the West Road Concert Hall, University of Cambridge on the 12th of February at 2:30 PM. This musical evening dedicated to Ottoman Sufi music and culture will start with a lecture and be followed by a concert featuring a choir consisting of Türkiye’s most talented musicians!

This unique event is organised as part of the upcoming UK tour of the Whirling Dervishes: Mevlevi Sema Ceremony & Devran Dhikr, which will be performed by Istanbul Sufi Ceremonies Ensemble in Cambridge, Oxford, and London between the 11th – 14th February 2023.

This unique lecture & concert event that is organised by Yunus Emre Institute London in collaboration with the University of Cambridge Faculty of Music, will be delivered by Istanbul Sufi Ceremonies Ensemble and will feature an insightful talk by the Head of the Dervishes, Mehmed Fatih Çıtlak, who is also an accomplished Islamic scholar, Sufi shaykh, and author.

The event that will be inaugurated by Dr Jacob Olley will be followed by a talk by Mehmed Fatih Çıtlak about the Ottoman Sufi culture and the rich symbolic meanings, rules, and characteristics attached to this centuries-old tradition. He will talk about the universal validity (relevance) and unifying meanings of the Sufi tradition in the Ottoman & Turkish contexts. Further in his talk, Çıtlak will also elaborate on the meşk method, the musical education system that was developed by Ottoman / Turkish musicians and has been performed in palaces, magnificent mansions, mosques and lodges throughout history in Turkish music.

The lecture will be joined by an ensemble of excellent musicians fusing the traditional ney (reed flute), Turkish tanbur, Turkish kanun, Turkish oud, classical kemençe and rhythm. The ensemble will perform traditional pieces from Ottoman Sufi music. Beautiful examples of traditional Ottoman Sufi hymns will be played and sung during the concert and the audience will have the opportunity to participate in the singing.

The concert will be performed by the spectacular İstanbul Tasavvuf İrfan ve Meydan Meşkleri Topluluğu (Istanbul Sufi Ceremonies Ensemble), a specialized ensemble officially established in 2018 under the Republic of Türkiye’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, representing master vocal and instrumental artists and an ensemble of senior Semazens (Whirling Dervishes). Bringing together two musical traditions, the spectacular ensemble will provide the audience with a unique experience of Ottoman & Turkish music throughout the concert.

Since its establishment, Istanbul Sufi Ceremonies Ensemble has been organising concerts in restored historical buildings and concert halls across the world. During these events, ceremonies and rituals of Islamic tradition and Sufi culture, known to a few people, are performed in their original authentic versions.

Take part in an insightful evening reviving the traditional pieces of Ottoman Sufi music and bringing them to the public to be enjoyed once again with Yunus Emre Institute London and Istanbul Sufi Ceremonies Ensemble.

Registration is required for this event. (Free for the University of Cambridge students). A valid student ID must be presented at the door.

Kindly note that there is an age restriction to attend this event. Children under 8 will not be admitted to the performance.

Take a look at the other events taking place within the scope of the UK tour of the Whirling Dervishes:

For more information on the event email us at