Muammer Ketencoglu

Born in Tire, Izmir in 1964, Muammer Ketencoglu received his initial musical training in a school for the blind during his years of primary and secondary education. He came to realize that among the musical instruments accordion was the one he played with greater emotional intensity and deeper satisfaction. He made popular music until 1986. During his years in the Bosphorus University, Department of Psychology that he entered in 1983, he was attracted to the folk music of different peoples of the world. Although he first focused on contemporary Greek music (Laika) and Rebetica, his affinity for other peoples’ folk music ultimately led him to find his main course in the Balkan music and Western Anatolian music.

HIS FOLK MUSIC ARCHIVE: Especially from 1991 on his studies on folklore gained impetus. His work, characterized by the sensitivity of a meticulous explorer rather than being academic, has diversified his repertory and at the same time enabled him to build up a comprehensive collection of world folk music. For 20 years he has been collecting special LP’s, books and CD’s on traditional music from all over the world which formed a huge private library.

HIS ALBUMS AND COMPILATIONS: His first personal album, a Kalan Music production, Sevdali Kiyilar - Latremmena Akroyalia (Passionate Coasts) covering old and new Greek songs, appeared in 1993. He prepared two collections of Rebetiko songs, Rebetiko I and II, which were produced in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Another anthology compiled by Ketencoglu and produced in 1995 was entitled “Pioneers of the Klezmer Music”. The album brought together examples of Klezmer music based mainly on traditional eastern European Jewish music. In the same year he prepared an anthology, Halklardan Ezgiler (Popular Tunes), comprising four albums, each containing folk songs that best represent the traditional music of Armenia, Azarbaijan, Georgia (with Ibarya Özkan’s support in selecting the songs) and Central Asian Turkic Republics respectively.

Ketencoglu recorded in April 2001 his album “Karanfilin Moruna - The Zeybeks of the Asia Minor”, in cooperation with Cengiz Onural, a distinguished musician and composer of Turkey. Besides being an exquisite collection of Turkish and Greek traditional music in the peculiar Zeybek form, this work, in fact Ketencoglu’s childhood dream, also serves as a documentary due to both the authentic musicians taking part and the enclosed booklet about the Zeybek form.

A selection of songs from the comprehensive repertory created by The Balkan Journey between the years 1997-2000 was compiled in a CD named “Ayde Mori” which was released in September 2001.

HIS TWO ENSEMBLES: Specialized in two main traditional music areas as Balkan music and multi cultural musical heritage of Western Anatolia, Ketencoglu has been performing with his two ensembles, which were formed by him, since 1997:

MUAMMER KETENCOGLU AND HIS ZEYBEK ENSEMBLE: The ensemble consists of seven musicians: The musical director, accordionist, composer and vocalist Muammer Ketencoglu; guitarist, composer and arranger Cengiz Onural; violinist and singer Mithat Arisoy, oud player and teacher Erdem Senturk, percussionist Rahmi Gocmen, vocalists Ivi Dermanci and Stelyo Berber. Carrying the common musical tradition of Western Anatolia (Asia Minor) to stage. The ensemble performs Turkish and Greek folk songs, Izmir style rebetikos and zeybeks (Zeybek is a folk music and dance form originated in Western Anatolia and performed by only Turkish and Greek musicians today.) The ensemble was known as Kompania Ketencoglu which performed only rebetiko music until 2003. Having given many concerts in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and especially in the western coast of Turkey, the ensemble took stage in many festivals in Greece; in Athens, Thessaloniki, Trikala, Veria, Xhanti, Komotini and Crete; in Germany; in Berlin, Bielefeld, Frankfurt; in France; in Paris and Metz besides its participation at Bozar, Fine Arts Palace in Brussels in 2004.

THE BALKAN JOURNEY: The Balkan Journey Ensemble performs folk music in its purest form as far as possible from a large variety of countries in the region from Thrace to Czech Republic. After many trials in different music traditions of the world and being enriched by the Seven Colors of the Earth concerts which was organized by him during the years 1993-1997, the artist’s interest clearly focused on Balkan music. After a concert tour in Bulgaria together with one of the most famous singers of Bulgarian Thrace region called Penka Pavlova in 1997, the ensemble gave many concerts in Turkey, Cyprus, Netherlands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Germany, Greece and Israel. In the beginning the ensemble was composed of Ketencoglu, Sumru Agiryuruyen, Brenna MacCrimmon and Cevdet Erek. From 2000 on, the ensemble has been continuing its performances with the musical director, accordionist and vocalist Muammer Ketencoglu, vocalist and mandolin player Sumru Agiryuruyen, clarinetist Aytunc Nevzat Matraci and percussionist Rahmi Gocmen.

MUSICAL COLLABORATIONS: Taking part in various groups and individual musicians' works, Muammer Ketencoglu also gave many solo concerts both in Turkey and abroad: From 1993 to 1997 he organized yearly concerts known as Seven Colors of the Earth, each with a new repertory of folk songs performed by a number of musicians besides himself. Together with the native Anatolian Greek singer Ivi Dermanci, Ketencoglu shared the stage with the great Greek musician Mikis Theodorakis in 1996 first in Livadia and then in Athens. Between the years 1996 1998 he performed to the accompaniment of the Turkish folk singer Sükriye Tutkun in numerous concerts and radio and TV programs. He performed twice, in 1997 and 2002, in the "Peace Concerts" organized in southern Cyprus.

He made experimental music together with the actor Tuncel Kurtiz and the singer Sema between the years 1997-2000. Within the framework of its 2001 2002 winter program, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality organized monthly concerts named "An age old heritage - a musical journey with Muammer Ketencoglu" where Ketencoglu presented and interviewed every month a different musician performing examples of a particular musical tradition.

Ketencoglu presently continues to work together with a number of musicians with whom he shares artistic concerns, making not only folk music of different countries, but also other forms which are inspired by traditional music, yet open to searches for new styles as well. These include his cooperation with these music groups, namely Yansimalar and Incesaz founded by Cengiz Onural as well as his collaboration with the Laz musician Birol Topaloglu. (Laz peple live in the northern Black sea region having their authentic music and culture). Together with folk music singer Gulcan Kaya from Turkish Radio and Television, the artist sometimes gives recitals composed of folk songs from all over Turkey. Ketencoglu participated in many professional recordings with his accordion as a studio musician.

KETENCOGLU AS A RADIO ANNOUNCER: Since 1993 Ketencoglu has been producing and announcing radio programs giving examples of folk music from all over the world in various radio stations. From November 1995 on he is the producer and announcer of the program "This Side Of Danube" mainly focusing on Balkan music, broadcast every Wednesday between 13:00 - 14:00 hours by the Açik Radyo 94.9, commonly regarded as the most reputable radio station in Istanbul, renowned for its high quality music, arts, culture and literature programs. He announced Turkish folk music programs in Radio Klara in Belgium in 2004. He prepares and announces Turkish folk music programs in Radio Bialystok in Poland from time to time.

MOVIES, DOCUMENTARIES, COMPOSITIONS FOR THEATRE: Apart from his musical activities Ketencoglu has also shared his sound researcher background in many documentaries in addition to taking part as an actor in a number of feature films as a musician. Some of these are; The documentary about the roots of the song Uskudar, directed by Adela Peeva, named “Whose is this song?”, The film director Nefin Dinc’s documentary reflecting the short history of Rebetika, the documentary directed by Giorgos Zervas named “The Music of Istanbul and Izmir” and a documentary shot by Turkish Radio and Television named “Within the city walls on the edge of history”. Ketencoglu took part in two different documentaries made by the German WDR Television as a speaker. He took part in some Turkish movies such as “Sir Cocuklari”, “Sokaktaki Adam” as music advisor, musician and actor. He participated in many TV serials and movies with his accordion. Ketencoglu composed and prepared the music of a theatre play named “Dear Life” which began to take stage in October 2005 by Ankara State Theatre, about the population exchange between Greece and Turkey.

ARTICLES, PRESENTATIONS: Ketencoglu wrote articles for: “Kazancidis”, book about great composer and singer Stelios Kazancidis in Greek, author Thomas Korovinis, published in Greece in 2005. “Letter From Istanbul” album by Derya Turkan and Sokratis Sinopoulos released by Golden Horn Records; “Orient de Rouge” album by Kocani Orkestar, released by Yeni Dunya. He made a presentation with the title “Greek folk music from Izmir and Environs” in relation to the seminar on compulsory exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in Istanbul in 2004. This presentation was included in a book released by Bilgi University Press in October 2005. He gave many lectures on Rebetiko, Balkan music and traditional music in general as a part of several activities, seminars and workshops mainly in Turkey and Greece.

HIS INTERNATIONAL MUSIC CARREER: Ketencoglu became a popular musician in the international music arena with his traditional music career worldwide. The song “Jarnana” from his album “Ayde Mori”, took part in the compilation “The Rough Guide to the Balkans” in 2003 as a part of the Rough Guide series famous for releasing compilations covering traditional music from all over the world. He participated in another compilation named “Cyprus Thing” which was released by Olive Tree Music in England in 2004 and covered pieces of many musicians from different countries in relation to the peace efforts in Cyprus. In the same year, he prepared and announced several Turkish Folk music programs in Radio Bialystok in Poland and in Radio Klara in Belgium.

Ketencoglu was invited as a teacher to a Klezmer music workshop named “Crossroads Istanbul to New York” which was organized by outstanding Klezmer band Brave Old World in Weimar between 11-18 August in 2005. The teachers and participants studied the interaction between Turkish, Greek and Klezmer music. Ketencoglu took part in this workshop, which he had participated in 2000 for the first time, along with Brave Old World (Alan Bern, Michael Alpert, Kurt Bjorling, Stuart Brotman), famous researcher- musician Zev Feldman, American violinist Steven Greenman, Greek violin virtuoso Kyriakos Gouventas, famous guitarist Yannis Alexandris and accordionist Sanne Möricke from Netherlands.

During 19-29 August 2005, Ketencoglu was in Sao Paulo in Brazil to participate in “Mediterranean Orchestra” formed by Brazilian musicians Magda Pucci, Livio Tragtenberg and Carlinhos Antunes. Muammer Ketencoglu took part in this international orchestra consisting of 23 musicians from different Mediterranean countries and Brazil as the accordionist, vocalist and music advisor. Mediterranean Orchestra gave three concerts in Sao Paulo.

IN INTERNATIONAL MEDIA: Turkish Klezmer gives 100% [Jerusalem Post, Billboard September 23- 29, 2005, by Barry Davis]; Three articles in Greek newspaper Elefterotipia [20/09/2002; 7 - 18/01/2004; 10/09/2005]; Something is happening in Istanbul [International Herald Tribune, 2004by Miltiadis Polyviou]; Rebetika - Greek Music From Istanbul [Sunday, October 17, 2004 by Franz L Kessler]; Ayde Mori [Froots Magazine No: 229, July 2002,by Chris Williams]; Anatolian Zeybeks [Froots Magazine, January 2002 by Chris Williams]

Performing Anatolian, Greek and Balkan music remains a unique musical experience of great satisfaction for Muammer Ketencoglu who believes a musician’s particular choice of musical genre should first and foremost correspond to his or her intellectual expectations at a time when music is being increasingly commercialized.

2006 Interkulttheater- Vienna, AUSTRIA
2005 New Cameri Theatre - 2 performances - Tel Aviv, ISRAEL
2005 3 public performances- Crete, GREECE
2005 Sesc Theatre, 3 performances with Mediterranean Orchestra -Sao Paolo, BRAZIL 2005 Kemnade International Festival, Wasserburg Haus- Bochum, GERMANY 2004 Palais Des Beaux- Art- Brussels, BELGIUM
2004 Neopolis Balkan Festival- Thessaloniki, GREECE
2004 Vlasti Village Balkan Festival- Kozani, GREECE
2003 Bobigny Theater, Orient Express Project- Paris, FRANCE
2002 Tsitsanis Days- Trikala, GREECE
2002 Peace Activity- Nikosia, CYPRUS
2001 Neapolis Balkan Festival- Thessaloniki, GREECE
2001 Arda Festival- Orestiada, GREECE
2000 Bretiny- Paris, FRANCE
2000 Public Performance- Plovdiv, BULGARIA
2000 Public Performance- Skopje, MACEDONIA
2000 Public Performance- Komotini, GREECE
2000 Herder Kirche- Weimar, GERMANY
1999 Dialog Festival- Berlin, GERMANY
1999 Berliner Philharmonie- Berlin, GERMANY
1999 Public Performance- Xhanti, GREECE
1998 Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt- Berlin, GERMANY
1998 Zurich, SWITZERLAND
1998 Film Festival- Rotterdam, NETHERLANDS
1997 Institute Du Monde Arabe, Turquie Plurielle- Paris, FRANCE
1997 Asia Minor Night- Veria, GREECE
1997 Lesvos, GREECE
1997 Peace Activity- Nikosia, CYPRUS
1996 with Mikis Theodorakis- Athens, GREECE
1996 with Mikis Theodorakis- Livadia, GREECE

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Muammer Ketencoglu is based in Istanbul, Turkey. Please contact us for booking inquires.