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Dr. Mehmet Ali SANLIKOL
(composer/multi-instrumentalist/ethnomusicologist)

       
Photo by Joel Cohen
 


Mehmet Sanlıkol studied western classical piano with his mother Fethiye Sanlıkol and started giving piano recitals as early as age five. Until the year 1992, he constantly performed classical and contemporary music. Later on he studied with the internationally acclaimed Turkish composer/Jazz pianist Aydın Esen and won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music. In 1997, he found the band AudioFact with Onur Türkmen and toured Mexico, Argentina, the USA and Europe. The same year, he received Berklee College of Music's Clare Fischer Award and completed his degree in Jazz Composition and Film Scoring.


1998 he released the CD Black Spot with AudioFact. In the year 2000 he graduated from New England Conservatory of Music with a Master's Degree in Jazz Composition. In the year 2002 Sanlıkol was commissioned to write a piece for PALS children’s chorus accompanied by Turkish instruments and a chamber orchestra. The piece, entitled Ergenekon, was a big success. Boston Globe’s Richard Dyer wrote: “The music is colorful, fanciful, full of rhythmic life, and full of feeling. The multiculturalism is not touristy, but rather sophisticated, informed, internalized; Sanlıkol is a citizen of the world”, “…and he (Sanlıkol) is another who could play decisive role in music’s future in the world.”

In the year 2003 Sanlıkol has released his second CD entitled Asitane with AudioFact. In the year 2004 Sanlıkol completed his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Composition at the New England Conservatory and helped find the organization Dünya based in Boston, Massachusetts. Sanlıkol is the president of Dünya, an organization dedicated to contemporary presentations of Turkish traditions, alone and in interaction with other world traditions, through musical performance, publication, and educational activities. Since its founding Sanlıkol has produced, performed and delivered talks at over eighty Dünya events. This organization has also released 6 CDs (Come See What Love Has Done To Me, Psalms of Ali Ufki, Music of Cyprus, The Tulip and the Sword, The Language of Birds and For You the World, For Us the Roses) as well as a DVD (Wisdom and Turkish Humor) featuring Mehmet Sanlıkol both as a director/performer and a composer. The Music of Cyprus CD is the first and the only project that brings Greek and Turkish Cypriot musicians together on an international platform to present the musical traditions of the island of Cyprus. The unique nature and the success of this project resulted with Dr. Sanlıkol going on the air with NPR’s Robin Young and PRI’s The World.

Throughout the year of 2010 Dr. Sanlıkol directed, performed and produced A Story of the City: Constantinople-Istanbul CD and concert production as a part of Istanbul 2010 European Culture Capital activities. The project included a largely Boston-based cast of 35 musicians who after recording the double CD performed the program in the 4000 seat open air Harbiye Açıkhava Tiyatrosu in Istanbul on Friday, June 18, 2010. This program explores more than a 1000 years of Istanbul’s communal memory through Greek Orthodox music, Greek folk music, Crusader songs, music of the Ottoman military ensembles, Ottoman court music, Sufi ceremonial music, Turkish folk music, Sephardic Jewish songs, urban music of the Armenians and Turks, and contemporary urban popular music.

In today’s world where we are constantly reminded of the differences between traditions, cultures, religions and ethnicities, like the Music of Cyprus project, Mehmet Sanlıkol chooses to direct and research projects in which music connects disparate ethnic and religious groups through devotion, longing, celebration and joy. Currently Sanlıkol is pursuing this idea with a new program entitled “Jews and Sufis: A Shared Musical Tradition”. This program explores, the Turkish Jewish maftirim repertoire—Hebrew devotional poetry set to Ottoman/Turkish makam music for use in the synagogue—which demonstrates the deep relationships Ottoman Jews established with members of Muslim mystical brotherhoods. On this program Dr. Sanlıkol collaborates with leading scholar Dr. Edwin Seroussi.

Mehmet Sanlıkol has composed for, performed and toured with international stars and ensembles such as Tiger Okoshi, Bob Brookmeyer, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Okay Temiz, Erkan Oğur, Yansımalar, Omar Faruk Tekbilek and The Boston Camerata at numerous prestigious International Music Festivals and venues such as the Blue Note Jazz club in New York. He has also composed, arranged, produced and performed for Turkish pop stars such as Fahir Atakoğlu, Burcu Güneş, Ümit Sayın, Edip Akbayram and Nil Karaibrahimgil.

Dr. Sanlıkol taught at Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory. He is currently a faculty member at Emerson College and Brown University. Dr. Sanlıkol actively delivers papers and talks at academic conferences such as Sohbet-i Osmaniye series at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University. Dr. Sanlıkol’s book, entitled The Musician Mehters, about the organization and the music of the Ottoman Janissary Bands has been published during 2011 in both English and Turkish.