Turkfest celebrates a shared past, hopes for the future
Seattle Times staff reporter
As Turkey prepares to join the European Union, it has been reaching out dramatically to the West, a theme reflected in Turkfest this weekend, at Seattle Center and the Museum of History & Industry.
The 4-year-old celebration not only features Turkish cultural performances but elements from its age-old rival, Greece, as well as Uzbekistan, Bosnia, Azerbaijan and Turkey's Sephardic Jewish community.
The theme is "Living in Harmony Throughout the Ages."
"We want people to see how totally different countries are linked together by an underlying Turkic culture," explains Kimber Dodge, treasurer of the Turkish American Cultural Association, which produces the festival. "A lot of these cultures were under the rule of the Ottoman Empire."
The musical high point is tomorrow's concert at Fisher Pavilion, "From Both Sides of the Aegean." In the ecumenical spirit of the festival, the show brings together brilliant musicians from Turkey and Greece — vocalist and baglama (long-necked lute) player Latif Bolat and clarinetist Christos Govetas.
Bolat, who grew up in the Mediterranean town of Mersin but now resides in Santa Fe, N.M., is well-known as a master of Turkish folk traditions and devotional Sufi songs, including those of the 13th-century mystical poets Rumi and Yunus Emre.
Bolat got a degree in folklore and music in Ankara, taught traditional music, then managed a musical theater company in Turkey before moving to the U.S. If you watched the PBS documentary "Muhammed: Legacy of a Prophet," you heard Bolat's music on the soundtrack.
Govetas has been a gift to the Seattle area, ever since moving here from Boston in 1997. Once an occasional visitor to Northwest Folklife (with the band Ziyia), he now plays locally in the bands Pangeo and Sultana and with jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, in the Intercontinental Quartet.
Saturday night, Govetas appears with Sultana, which specializes in music brought to Greece by Greek refugees from Turkey in the early part of the last century.
Turkfest also offers two Turkish films this year, tonight at the Museum of History & Industry. "Vizontele Tuuba," directed by Yilmaz Erdogan, is a Turkish comedy set in the 1980s about the arrival of a new library director in a rural town obsessed by TV. "Distant (Uzak)," directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan and set in Istanbul, tells the story of a commercial photographer who takes in a neurotic country cousin.
Both the concert and films are ticketed. The free part of Turkfest, in Center House tomorrow and Sunday, also features excellent programs, including Alfredo, a Turkish belly dancer and multi-instrumentalist living in Portland, and the group Sevdah, devoted to a variety of arts, including folkdance, orchestral music, poetry and drama.
Center House activities also include children's activities, a costume show, arts and handicrafts, Turkish folk, classical and pop music, a folk dance workshop and shadow-puppet performances.
Paul de Barros: 206-464-3247 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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