Explore Turkish Culture Through Music


The week of October 14-18, Centrum presents Turkish musicians Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Bahadir Sener, Murat Tekbilek, with Lindajoy Fenley in our local schools and community venues.

The artists will be in residence through Caravanserai, an artistic and cultural exchange program that showcases the diversity of contemporary Islamic societies through their art and culture. The Caravanserai program is made possible entirely by Arts Midwest.

These artists will spend their time immersed in the Port Townsend and Port Angeles communities, sharing their cultures and absorbing the cultures of the area.

In addition to Centrum, Peninsula College, Port Townsend High School, the Chimacum school district, KPTZ, the Jefferson County Library, and the Port Townsend Film Institute are involved in bringing education in Turkish culture to Port Townsend.

The residency will include three public presentations  – all free:

  • On Tuesday, October 15, at 12:30 pm, Tekbilek performs with Bahadir Sener and his son Murat Tekbilek at Peninsula College’s Little Theater in Port Angeles, following a class visit.
  • On Thursday, October 17, Tekbilek appears at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend at 7:30 pm in a moderated community discussion about the Islamic faith, Sufism, and music.
  • On Friday, October 18, at 7:30 pm, Tekbilek performs with Sener and Murat Tekbilek at the Joseph F. Wheeler Theater at Ford Worden State Park.

Tekbilek views his approach to music as “cosmic”; rooted in tradition, it has been influenced by contemporary sounds, and like Tekbilek, himself, his music is said to symbolize diversity-in-unity.

Considered one of the world’s foremost interpreters of Middle Eastern music, Tekbilek has collaborated with such international music greats as Don Cherry, Ginger Baker, Ofra Haza, Simon Shaheen, and Hossam Ramzy.  He also has contributed to numerous film and TV scores and to many recordings, including world sacred music albums, and has toured extensively throughout the Middle East, Europe, Australia and North and South America.

Born in 1951 in the city of Adana, Turkey, Tekbilek was a child prodigy who was trained on several instruments, including the ney (bamboo flute), zurna (double-reed oboe like instrument with buzzing tone), baglama (long-necked lute), oud (the classic lute) and percussion. By the age of twelve he was already performing professionally at local hot spots.  He moved to Istanbul when he was16. There, he became one of the most highly regarded session musicians in the city’s bustling music scene. During the decade he lived there, he explored Arabesque and Western musical styles and was profoundly influenced by experiences with the Mevlevi Dervishes, Turkey’s ancient Sufi order.

After meeting his wife during his first U.S. tour in 1971, Tekbilek settled in upstate New York and gained prominence in the world music scene through six recordings with Grammy award-winning producer Brian Keane.

These and class visits performances are presented through Caravanserai, a place where cultures meet. Caravanserai is a groundbreaking artistic and cultural exchange program meant to showcase the diversity of contemporary Islamic societies through their art and culture and is funded by the Building Bridges program of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. The name “Caravanserai” was carefully selected for this program, said David Fraher, president of Arts Midwest, the producing organization. “Historically…stopping places for caravans along trade routes were called caravanserais,” he said. “They were safe places to sit around the fire, come together, and exchange stories.

Local partners include Centrum, Peninsula College, Port Townsend High School, Chimacum High School, KPTZ, and the Port Townsend Film Institute. All performances are free thanks to support from the Port Townsend Arts Commission.