ANKARA: Istanbul has been internet hosting a year-long particular gathering that makes use of Afro-Arab musical traditions to foster mutual understanding and social integration in Turkey.
Since 2019, January 24 has been celebrated because the World Day for African and Afro-descendant Tradition, and in flip, a novel group took root in Turkey, which mixes the musical traditions of Africa and the Arab world.
The musical ensemble, consisting of 10 musicians, performs Arabic Sufi music and meshk beneath the route of Abdullah Kaymak, gathering each Sunday in Istanbul’s Uskudar neighborhood on the Anatolian facet.
The group meets in a comfortable metropolis atmosphere, the place musicians – from percussionists, cellists and violinists to vocalists and gamers of conventional Jap devices such because the oud, ney and rebab – and the viewers sit in a circle and speak to one another in a overtly. format.
Every music assembly, referred to as meshk, is free and open to everybody.
Through the periods, conventional Afro-Arab Sufi hymns are sung, with viewers participation performing as a spontaneous choir.
The items are chosen from the well-known musical repertoire of the Arab world, particularly from the Gulf states, the Maghreb area, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Libya.
The group made their first look final Ramadan and the constructive suggestions from the viewers inspired them to proceed their venture collectively.
They plan to succeed in a wider viewers with out sacrificing the qualities that make them distinctive and have began receiving invites from overseas as effectively.
On the invitation of the Chishtiya Ribbat Heart for Sufi Research in Pakistan, they are going to be performing in Pakistan on the finish of January and conducting a number of interactive meshk periods.
“Turkish and Arabic music have been in fixed interplay for hundreds of years. Not solely the devices, but in addition the matters, mannerisms and musical traditions coincide,” Kaymak, the group’s lead vocalist and chief, informed Arab Information.
“If regional politics helps peace, multiculturalism and the common values of the humanities, music additionally turns into a device to realize this objective,” mentioned Kaymak.
Kaymak, who hails from Mauritania, realized Arabic through the years he lived in Egypt, which provides him fluency in lyrics and pronunciation.
From his childhood, he remembers varied meshk periods beneath the route of his father, who carried out music from the Maghreb area, in addition to hymns from the Gulf area, Iraq and Libya.
Earlier than his remaining cease in Istanbul, he carried out at these musical gatherings in Madinah, Cairo, Alexandria, Jordan and Mauritania, in addition to within the southern province of Adana in Turkey.
One other member of the group is Hatice Gulbahar Hepsev. Through the meshk, she performs the rebab, a lute-like wood instrument of Arabic origin that’s performed with a bow.
“Throughout these musical conferences, an emotional bond is shaped between the musicians and the viewers,” she informed Arab Information.
“When you realize an individual from a meshk, you invite them to the following assembly, and the viewers retains rising,” she mentioned.
Those that be a part of a meshk for the primary time are shocked by the participatory factor and the distinctive ambiance of the multicultural gathering, however the common energy of the music inevitably wins them over.
The viewers is principally composed of younger and middle-aged friends who come from completely different components of the world, together with Turkey, the Arab area, Europe and the USA.
As a mirrored image of Istanbul’s musical and linguistic richness, the gathering has change into a vacationer attraction in current months.
“The frequent characteristic of audiences is that they aren’t restricted to slender contexts. They’re slightly concerned about completely different cultures and excited to know one another’s backgrounds,” Kaymak mentioned.
“Due to this fact, our viewers profile is comprised of those that love – slightly than merely tolerate – multiculturalism and multilingualism.”
The venture made an vital contribution to mutual understanding in Turkish society, the place Arabs and Africans have at all times been related to refugees and asylum seekers who would disturb the social material.
In keeping with rebab participant Hepsev, some viewers members be taught new Arabic hymns throughout these gatherings and really feel at residence.
“Turkish listeners be taught new anthems from the African and Arab world, which provides them the chance to know new cultures and enrich their exchanges with folks from Arab nations. On this method, our musical gatherings play an vital function in social integration in Turkey,” she mentioned.
Earlier than becoming a member of the group, Hepsev carried out in varied initiatives in Istanbul, the place he carried out Ottoman, Central Asian and Turkish Sufi music.
On the opening of every musical assembly, Kaymak often offers a speech and encourages the listeners to hitch him within the reprises of the hymns.
“Applause and viewers participation increase the constructive ambiance and harmonious circulation of the gathering,” Hepsev mentioned.
Each week, new vocalists and new instrumentalists be a part of meshk, making it a dynamic and continuously evolving venture.