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More About Dr. Mehmet Ali Sanlikol

Dr. Mehmet Ali Sanlikol (composer/multi-instrumentalist/ethnomusicologist)

Mehmet Sanlikol studied western classical piano with his mother Fethiye Sanlikol and started giving piano recitals as early as age five. Until the year 1992, he constantly performed classical and contemporary music. Later on he studied with the internationally acclaimed Turkish composer/Jazz pianist Aydin Esen and won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music. In 1997, he found the band AudioFact with Onur Türkmen and toured Mexico, Argentina, the USA and Europe. The same year, he received Berklee College of Music's Clare Fischer Award and completed his degree in Jazz Composition and Film Scoring. While at Berklee Sanlikol studied jazz composition with such accomplished composers like Herb Pomeroy and Ken Pullig.

In 1998 he released a CD, entitled Black Spot, with AudioFact. In the year 2000 he graduated from New England Conservatory of Music with a Master's Degree in Jazz Composition. In the year 2002 Sanlikol was commissioned to write a piece for PALS children’s chorus accompanied by Turkish instruments and a chamber orchestra. The piece, entitled Ergenekon: an ancient Turkish legend, was a big success. Boston Globe’s Richard Dyer wrote: “The music is colorful, fanciful, full of rhythmic life, and full of feeling. The multiculturalism is not touristy, but rather sophisticated, informed, internalized; Sanlikol is a citizen of the world”, “…and he (Sanlikol) is another who could play decisive role in music’s future in the world.”

In the year 2003 Sanlikol has released his second CD entitled Asitane with AudioFact. After studying with composers such as George Russell, Bob Brookmeyer and Lee Hyla, in the year 2004 Sanlikol completed his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Composition at the New England Conservatory and helped find the organization DÜNYA based in Boston, Massachusetts. Sanlikol is the president of DÜNYA, a musicians’ collective dedicated to contemporary presentations of Turkish traditions, alone and in interaction with other world traditions, through musical performance, publication, and educational activities. Since its founding Sanlikol has produced, performed and delivered talks at over ninety DÜNYA events. DÜNYA has also released 9 CDs as well as a DVD featuring Mehmet Sanlikol both as a director/performer and a composer. The unique nature and the success of DÜNYA resulted with Dr. Sanlikol going on the air numerous times on NPR and PRI.

Throughout the year of 2010 Dr. Sanlikol directed, performed and produced A Story of the City: Constantinople-Istanbul CD and concert production as a part of Istanbul 2010 European Culture Capital activities. The project included a largely Boston-based cast of 35 musicians who after recording the double CD performed the program in the 4000 seat open air Harbiye Açikhava Tiyatrosu in Istanbul on Friday, June 18, 2010. This program explores more than a 1000 years of Istanbul’s communal memory through Greek Orthodox music, Greek folk music, Crusader songs, music of the Ottoman military ensembles, Ottoman court music, Sufi ceremonial music, Turkish folk music, Sephardic Jewish songs, urban music of the Armenians and Turks, and contemporary urban popular music. This critically acclaimed project was on the Grammy ballot under World Music in 2011.

Recently, Sanlikol was commissioned by A Far Cry string orchestra toward the successful premier of his work, entitled Vecd, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Upon the positive reviews Vecd received A Far Cry included the piece as part of a second tour and they also recorded the piece for their upcoming album. A new commission recently came from the Boston Cello Quartet, founded by 4 cellists from the Boston Symphony Orchestra,toward a new piece by Sanlikol which will be premiered during Spring 2014.

Mehmet Sanlikol has composed for, performed and toured with international stars and ensembles such as Tiger Okoshi, Bob Brookmeyer, Esperanza Spalding, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Okay Temiz, Erkan Ogur, Yansimalar, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Brenna MacCrimmon and The Boston Camerata at numerous prestigious International Music Festivals and venues such as the Blue Note Jazz club in New York. He has also composed, arranged, produced and performed for Turkish pop stars such as Fahir Atakoglu, Burcu Günes, Ümit Sayin, Edip Akbayram and Nil Karaibrahimgil. Dr. Sanlikol taught at Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory. He is currently a faculty member at Emerson College and College of the Holy Cross, and a research fellow at Harvard University. Dr. Sanlikol actively delivers papers and talks at academic conferences such as International Conference on Analytical Approaches to World Music, Society for Ethnomusicology and Sohbet-i Osmaniye series at Harvard University. Dr. Sanlikol’s book, entitled The Musician Mehters, about the organization and the music of the Ottoman Janissary Bands has been published during 2011 in English by The ISIS press and in Turkish by Yapi Kredi Yayinlari.