Cultural ambassadors: Erdoğdular, Makam New York bring Turkish music, dance to the Amp stage

Ahmet Erdoğdular came to New York with the purpose of educating Americans about Turkish music and culture. Erdoğdular is the founder of Makam New York, a nonprofit organization that spreads the rich cultural and musical history of Turkey by performing across the country.

Performers from Makam New York will join Erdoğdular at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater to showcase “An Evening of Turkish Music and Dance.”

The program will include music ranging from classical to modern pieces accompanied by whirling Dervish dancers. Erdoğdular explained in an email that Turkish music was traditionally passed from teachers to students, generation after generation. Erdoğdular’s father comes from a long line of such teachers dating back to the 13th century.

Traditional Turkish music originated in Central Asia but spread through the Ottoman Empire. It has also been greatly influenced by art and literature, such as the work of Rumi, a Persian poet.

“Turkish musical tradition is closely intertwined with literature, especially poetry of both religious and non-religious content,” Erdoğdular said. “The music is composed on poetry, and the interplay of these two arts is majestically presented in some of the most celebrated compositions.”

Some of the instrumental pieces performed during the concert will be improvised. Erdoğdular explained that improvisation is an important part of the Turkish musical culture, as it shows that the musicians are knowledgeable and skillful.

Erdoğdular created Makam New York to make those in Western countries more aware of traditional Turkish music and culture. His organization is the first of its kind in the U.S.

“I’m traveling and trying to reach as many people as I can to tell about this traditional, original culture,” he said.