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The stories behind Sounds of the Ocean & more

Born in Aydin, Turkey, Iskender Ozan Toprak is a bağlama virtuoso, composer and multi-instrumentalist. On Monday 24 April, he performs Sounds of the Ocean – an exploration of soundscapes, melodies and rhythms of western classical music and the traditional music of the east live in the Salon.

Before he takes the stage, Iskender Ozan Toprak shares his stories behind the music with us in both English and Turkish.

On the concept behind ‘Sounds of the Ocean’:

As a musician I lived in many places from Azerbaijan to Germany, from England to Australia and discovered new cultures and music. After a while my music started reflecting my travels. I don’t really believe in having borders in music or life. The differences we have are our richness and I wanted to reflect this richness in my music. So ‘Sounds of the Ocean’ was formed with this idea in mind. For me, music is part of culture and it is not an art to tell your thoughts or feelings. For this reason the music we make not only shows our musical training but also shows the culture we have been living in. The artist puts on a character in his art form._

Bir muzisyen Azarbeycan’dan Almanya’ya oradan da Ingiltereye ve en sonunda buraya kadar pek cok ulkede yasadim.Gittigim her ulkede farkli kulturler ve muziklerle tanistim. Zaman icerisinde bu gocmenlik benim muzigime de yansidi..
Ben sadece pasaportla gecilen sinirlarin degil , insanlarin sadece ayni seyleri dusundugu zaman kabul goren sinirlarinin da olmamasina inanirim. Farkliliklar bizim zenginligimizdir. Elimden geldigince bunu muzigime de yansitmak isterim. Iste Okyannus projesi boyle olustu. Muzik , kulturlenmedir. Duygu ve dusunceleri anlatma sanati degil.benim icin. Bu yuzden muziklerimiz olusurken aldigimiz egitimin yaninda etkilendigimiz kulturlerden de izler tasir. Sanatci yapitinda bir karaker koyar ortaya. Kisacasi arkasinda yasanilan onca kulturun bana biraktigi izler tasir.

On Turkish instrumentation and his style of music:

I learned to play bağlama at very early ages then mızraplı tanbur, yaylı tanbur, lauta and oud. However bağlama has been always my primary instrument. I’d like to state this. Instruments are only a means for the players and my favourite instrument is my hands and my knowledge. If you could describe a fruit that you haven’t eaten before, I could describe this music as music you haven’t heard before. Music is so vast that words are never enough to describe them. I couldn’t scream out “Look, I am playing amazing music” like market store holders. The music we play is border-less and free. With my music I like to prepare it like a dinner table that feeds everyone, like a jug that would quench everyone’s thirst and like a world where everyone is happy. The rest depends on the imagination of the audiences and their will to see and feel.

Kucuk yaslarda baglama calgisini ogrendim.Sonra Mizrapli tanbur, Yayli, Tanbur, lavta,ud, gibi mizrapli calgilari ogrendim. Ancak Baglama benim icin hep biraz daha onde geldi. Ancak sunu soyleye bilirim: Calgilar, calicilar icin sadece bir aractir. Benim en favori enstrumanim , bilgilerim ve ellerimdir. Daha once yenmemis bir meyvayi nasil anlatabilir iseniz ancak ben de daha once duyulmamis muzigi size oyle anlatabilirim. Muzik sozlerle imgelemeyecek kadar sinirsizdir. Pazarda bagiran pazarcilar gibi “ bakin ben ne kadar guzel muzik yapiyorum “ diyemem size.. Nasil seyircinin “ bagenmedim” sozundeki ozgurluk sorgulanamaz ise yaptigimiz muzigin de tinisi o kadar Ozgur tutulmali. Seyirciler gelip salonda muzigimiz dinlediklerinde yine seyirci olamnin verdigi tum acimasizligini sakli tutabilirler.Nedenin aciklamadan muzigimizi yerden yere de vurabilirler. Bu hem seyirciyi , seyirci yapar aslinda. Ben muzigimde ortaya her kesin doyacagi bir sofra, her kesin icecegi kadar su ve her kesin mutlu olacagi kadar bir dunya koymak isterim. Gerisi seyircinin kesif gicine, gorme istegine ve hissetme arzusuna kalir.

On working with local Australian chamber musicians like Inventi Ensemble’s Ben Opie:

Ben has a special place for me. I spoke to him before I came to Australia about playing together and he accepted immediately. I know he is a kind of musician who is always exploring and looking for new sounds. Musicians should appeal to four basic things in their music which are mind, eyes, ears and heart. Ben has all of these in his music. Also the musicians he has introduced me so far have these. They all have the discipline all musicians need as well as curiosity and smiling faces.

Ben ‘in bende ayri bir yeri var. Avustral’ya ya gelmeden once konser yapmak icin onu aradigimda hic dusunmeden benim ile calismayi kabul etti. Biliyordum ki O da kesfetmek isteyen yeni seyleri durmadan arayan doyumsuz pek cok iyi sanatcidan biri. Muzik insalari 4 muziklerinde 4 temel seye hitap etmeli: 1 akla, 2. Goze, 3.Kulaga ve 4. Kalbe. Ben’de bunlarin hepsi var. Ve ben sayesinde tanistigim tum muzisyenlerde de bunlari gordum. Musizyen icin olmas ise olmaz disiplin ve merak elbette gu guler yuzluluk var hepsinde

On working with 2003 winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, Sertab Erener:

Sertap Erener is a lovely person and well-disciplined musician. She is incredible on stage. The way she controls her voice shows the years of practice and hard work she put in. I learnt a lot from her. Working with good musicians always opens up good opportunities if you have the right attitude.

Sertap Erener son derece disiplinli ve iyi kalpli bir muzisyen. Ozellikle sahnedeki hakimiyeti ve elbette uzun yillar siki calismasinin sonunda sesinin bu denli gelistirir iken bana anlattigi zorluklar karsisinda azminden ve iradesinden cok seyler ogrendim. Iyi musisyenler ile calismak, eger dogru yerden bakiyor iseniz her zaman iyi yollar sunuyor.

On his side-project, documentary film-making:

I actually never thought that I’d make a documentary. After a concert I was approached and asked if I could make a documentary for the German Protestan Church. I accepted it without even thinking about it as I wanted to explore on this opportunity. After this I had requests from London but I decided to continue on my music career and writing more music. As a matter of fact music has always been in the centre for me.

Belgesel film yapmayi hic dunmemistim aslinda.Almanya’da yasadigim yillarda b bir konserden sonra Alman Protestan kilisesinin 50 yili icin bir belgesel yapip yapamayacagimi benden istediler. Dusunmeden kabul ettim. Cunku kesfetmeyi cok seviyorum. Ardindan Londra’da teklifler gelmeye basladi. Ama ben daha cok muziklerini yazma konusuna egildim. dogurusunu soylemek gerekirse Muzik benim helan merkezimde oturmakta.

Event Details

Iskender Ozan Toprak: Sounds of the Salon
Monday 24 April 6pm, Salon
Click here for more info and tickets