DÜNYA New Music Ensemble
A Story of The City Constantinople, Istanbul
Originally conceived to celebrate the European Union’s nomination of the city of Istanbul as a ‘European Capital of Culture,’ the DÜNYA New Music Ensemble’s extraordinary creation, the ambitious 40-track, double CD set with accompanying booklet, “A Story of The City Constantinople, Istanbul” is as dynamic as it is comprehensive.
From Crusader ballads and Medieval Greek Orthodox melodies to Sufi chants and 17th century Ottoman folk tunes, this project covers the plethora of music that has made Istanbul the great cultural hub that it is today. Songs such as the beautiful Jewish spiritual melody “Yeheme Levavi” mix fluidly with Sufi chanting to stunning effect. Also the Sufi chant “Salat-l Ümmiye,” with its sparse, emotional arrangement will give you cold chills in the ‘spiritual epiphany’ variety. The tune “Lamentatio Sanctae Matris Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae” invokes the days of Constantinople when this glorious city served as the seat of the Eastern Holy Roman Empire and the Hagia Sophia was essentially the Vatican. While “A Vous Amant, Plus Qu’a Nul Autre Gent,” a traditional Crusader States folk melody, discusses the heroic and amorous exploits of Medieval French nobleman, trouvère and crusader, Gui de Coucy.
Sweeping period-piece instrumentals like “Buselik Asiran Pesrev” –written in the mid-1600s by Ottoman Royal Court musician and dragoman, Ali Ufki- are transfixing. As is the opening original composition, “Byzantium,” which weaves modern atonal arrangements with ancient fragments of Greek and Turkish melodies is an outstanding example of the contemporary melding with the ancient, musically speaking.
DÜNYA musical leader Mehmet Ali Sanlikol has done a wondrous job of organization and orchestration for this project. If you are interested in a musical adventure that will carry you across the sands of time, one that is both enjoyable and intellectually stimulating, I would highly recommend “A Story of The City Constantinople, Istanbul.”
~ Michael Lohr