ASHLAND – Turkish singer, composer and scholar Latif Bolat has been selected for the 2016 Gretchen French Visiting Artist Series in Music at Ashland University. Bolat will visit Ashland University on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 to present two workshops and a concert. All of the events are free and open to the public.
The first workshop titled “1,000 Years of Eastern and Western Music Journeys” is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 31, at 2 p.m. in Room 303 of the Center for the Arts. The second workshop will focus on the religion of Islam and will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 1:40 p.m. in the Schar College of Education’s Ronk Lecture Hall.
On Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m., Bolat will perform a concert titled “The Healing Sounds of Turkey: A Night of Turkish Mystic Sufi Music, Poetry and Images.” Specializing in the ancient Turkish mystic-devotional music genre, Bolat provides a unique philosophy and approach to the performance of traditional music.
By creating an intimate, almost “storytelling” atmosphere, he explains Turkish folk and mystic music and its sociopolitical and cultural elements. The performance both entertains and invites the audience to ponder questions such as how major sociopolitical factors influence culture and the art it produces.
As an important part of the performance, Turkish devotional poetry from the 13th century mystics Rumi and Yunus Emre as well as later Turkish mystic poets are also sprinkled throughout the program. Also, slides are used to create a complete experience by providing scenes of the Turkish countryside, cities, artwork, architecture and people. This provides a deeper understanding of the culture by combining the musical presentation with images of its origin.
Bolat, one of the most renowned Turkish musicians in North America, is a native of the Turkish Mediterranean town of Mersin. After receiving his degree in folklore and music at Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey, he taught traditional music throughout the country. He then went on to manage Ankara Halk Tiyatrosu, a musical theater company, which performed traditional musical plays. Bolat also received additional degrees in Turkish History and Middle East Religion and Politics from Ankara University and an MBA from San Francisco State University.
Now residing in the United States, Bolat is one of the most distinguished Turkish musicians in this country. With a vast repertory that includes songs in classical, folk and Sufi mystic music styles, he accompanies his singing on the baglama (long-necked lute), and various other traditional instruments from the Turkish folk music tradition.
The Gretchen French Endowed Visiting Artist Series at Ashland University was established through a bequest from the estate of Gretchen French. Although Ms. French never attended Ashland University, it was through close friends and alumni Phillip (‘53) and Jean (‘55) Lersch, that she decided Ashland was well suited to demonstrate in perpetuity her values and hopes for young people. Her entire life was dedicated to people, placing others’ needs before her own by unselfishly serving them, in particular her family and many, many young musicians. This is a fitting tribute to her and will be a continual reminder of her love not only of music but most importantly people.
The goal of the Series is to provide Ashland University students close contact and mentoring with an outstanding visiting musician/music teacher. The particular field of expertise for the Series will vary from year to year. It is a goal of the Series to find Visiting Artists that have the widest possible expertise and appeal to students in various areas of music study.