Golden Horn Releases Troubadour

29 September 2004


Mesut Özgen came to the attention of the world music community in 1989 when he performed at the International Paco Peña Guitar festival in Cordoba, Spain. Özgen began teaching himself guitar in 1981 while in medical school – and by 1993 had become the first guitarist to win the Dean’s Prize at Yale University. Özgen is widely known for creating new contexts for classical guitar performances. “Pick and Roll,” a performance composed by Benajmin Verdery and staged by Özgen, featured a basketball player in dialogue with a guitar ensemble and utilized spatial elements in the hall. Troubadour represents Özgen’s first major release and lets the rest of us (who are not lucky enough to attend one of his multi-sensory performances) in on the secret.

Troubadour is aptly named – Özgen’s own journey has carried his music from his native Turkey, through Spain, Connecticut and Arizona, to his present home in Santa Cruz. “Many troubadours traveled for great distances, aiding in the transmission of news and culture from one region to the other,” says Özgen. The opening track, “Variations on an Anatolian Folk Song” by Domeniconi is based on a Turkish folk song written by Asik Veysel, a renowned 20th century representative of the Asik (troubadour) tradition. “The Asiks…singing their own or others’ poetry and playing saz, has become the voice of common people…” Anthony Newman’s work “Gigue” shows Özgen’s fondness for the ecletic and new. Composer Benjamin Verdery describes “Gigue” as “written in Newman’s system of substitute harmonies, and features series of short rhythmic cells that when put together give the effect of an Indian raga.” The final track is Pratorius’ trilogy “Sonata: Ondas do Mar de Vigo,” which is based on a Spanish song by the Portugese medieval troubadour Martin Codax. Troubadour was performed on a 1995 Simon Marty guitar, with the exception of the song “Misionera,” which used a 2003 Gil Carnal guitar.

In the early 1990s, Özgen was invited by Verdery to study at Yale University’s School of Music, where he completed both his Master of Music and Artist Diploma. Later, he studied with Frank Koonce in the doctoral program at Arizona State University. Özgen has taught guitar at the Gazi University School of Medicine and at Hacettepe University in his native Turkey, and is currently on the guitar faculty at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He was a prizewinner at the International Portland Guitar Competition, a featured soloist at both the International Paco Peña Guitar Festival and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, and premiered new music for the guitar at the Yale Guitar Festival and the April in Santa Cruz Contemporary Music Festival. Özgen’s ability to make classical guitar palatable to a larger audience and his dedication to new musics has inspired composers as varied as Pablo Ortiz, Benjamin Verdery, Deepak Ram, and Yalçin Tura to compose works for him.

Golden Horn Records is a Contemporary/Traditional World Music and Jazz label established in 1995 and based in California.

To learn more about MESUT ÖZGEN, visit his website at

For more information on Troubadour, please contact:
P.O. Box 5776, Walnut Creek, California, 94596, U.S.A.
Phone: (925) 930-7184, Fax: (925) 938-8447
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