Bîrûn. Ottoman Music Seminars. Call for scholarship

Bîrûn. Ottoman Music Seminars
Director Kudsi Erguner
13-18 April, 2015
Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice

The maftirîm and the works of Sephardi Jews in Ottoman classical music

Call for scholarship applications: deadline 15 January 2015

From 13 to 18 April 2015 the Intercultural Institute for Comparative Music Studies, part of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice,  will organize the fourth edition of Bîrûn, seminars on classical Ottoman music, directed by Kudsi Erguner,  addressed to professional and semi-professional musicians.

Ottoman classical music is based on the maqâm modal system and has been enhanced by contributions from Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Greek, Jewish and Armenian composers who lived and worked in the territory of the Ottoman Empire.

In the world of Ottoman classical music, the Jewish literary and religious traditions offer a great variety of poetic and musical works. The Sephardi Jews in the Ottoman Empire developed in particular a paraliturgical musical tradition called maftirîm, conceived to accompany some religious-type meetings in which poems called piyyutum set to Ottoman maqâm were sung. The maftirîm tradition, however, came into being also through the interaction of the Jewish community and the Dervish community, especially the confraternity of the Whirling Dervishes (Mevlevîye). The great composer, poet and cantor Israel Najara (1555-1625) is considered to have initiated this specific Ottoman Sephardi tradition.

More generally, the Sephardi Jews, who were already familiar with the modal music of Andalucia, easily assimilated the modal system of the Ottoman maqâm  and its specific forms. In view of this, the fourth edition of the Bîrûn workshop will not only be devoted to the spiritual tradition of the maftirîm but also secular works by Jewish composers, such as Moshe Faro, who lived in the second half of the 18th century and was active at the court of Sultan Mahmud I (1730-1754), and of a genius like İzak Fresco Romano (1745-1814), active at the court of Selim III (1761-1808).


The Fondazione Giorgio Cini is offering six scholarships for: male voice,  ney (flute), ‘ûd (short-necked lute), tanbûr (long-necked lute), kanûn (plucked box zither), kemençe (bowed box-shaped lute) or yayli tanbûr (bowed long-necked lute) and percussions – def or bender (frame drums), zarb (goblet drum)and kudûm (drums).

The scholarship will cover: registration fees, accommodation (in the Vittore Branca Center Residence), lunches (no dinners) and travelling expenses (up to 400 euros in economy class).

To participate in the selection, candidates must send the following material to the seminar secretary’s office (email: birun@cini.it) before 15 January 2015:

  • a detailed CV clearly indicating the instrument or voice being applied for (e.g. voice; ney; etc.);
  • 1 mp3 recording of the attached piece, “Gezi, composed by Kudsi Erguner;
  • 1 mp3 recording of an improvisation (taqsîm), which includes various modulations of different maqâm, as in the attached piece.

 NB: Each file (maximum 2 files for each application)  must bear the candidate’s first name and surname.

The recipients of the six scholarships and the auditors* will be selected by a committee made up of Kudsi Erguner

Candidates are required to read Western art music notation and, most importantly, to study beforehand the works in the repertoire that will be sent to them ahead of the workshop.

The results of the selection will be communicated by 1 February 2015 on the website www.cini.it

The seminar will end with a concert to be given by the scholarship recipients conducted by Kudsi Erguner.

The recording of the concert may be published on CD by Nota Edizioni.

*Candidates who are selected but not awarded a scholarship may attend the seminar as auditors and will be offered accommodation at their own expense in the Branca Centre Residence (depending on the availability of rooms as established by the organisational secretary’s office).

Info: birun@cini.itwww.cini.it- ++39 0412710357