Vampires, Ghouls, and Alexander the Two-Horned: An Otherworldly Evening of 17th-Century Myth and 21st-Century Music


Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 8:00pm to 10:00pm


The Memorial Church of Harvard University, 1 Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA 02138

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies is pleased to present for Harvard Worldwide Week

6th-century Persian miniature of genies ("jinn"), helping Alexander build the Iron WallVampires, Ghouls, and Alexander the Two-Horned: An Otherworldly Evening of 17th-Century Myth and 21st-Century Music
Inspired by the Musings of Ottoman Traveler Evliya Çelebi

Note: This event is open to the public; no registration or tickets required. Seating is limited.

Please join CMES at Harvard Memorial Church to celebrate the season of vampires, ghouls and zombies with a talk on "vampire trouble" in the Ottoman world and beyond by Professor Cemal Kafadar and a performance of A Gentleman of Istanbul: Symphony for Strings, Percussion, Piano, Oud, Ney & Tenor, by composer and musician Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol, joined by Grammy-nominated string orchestra A Far Cry.

Cemal Kafadar, Vehbi Koc Professor of Turkish Studies, Department of History, Harvard University, is interested in the social and cultural history of the Middle East and southeastern Europe in the late medieval/early modern era. He teaches courses on Ottoman history, urban space, travel, popular culture, history and cinema. His latest publications include “How Dark is the History of the Night, How Black the Story of Coffee, How Bitter the Tale of Love: the Changing Measure of Leisure and Pleasure in Early Modern Istanbul”, “Evliya Celebi in Dalmatia: an Ottoman Traveler’s Encounters with the Arts of the Franks", and a new book in Turkish: Kendine Ait Bir Roma (Metis, 2017).

Grammy-nominated composer and CMES Harvard University fellow (2013-15) Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol made his Carnegie Hall debut in April 2016 premiering his commissioned piece Harabat/The Intoxicated with the American Composers Orchestra. Other recent works have been heard at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall and on A Far Cry string orchestra’s recording Dreams and Prayers. He hails from Cyprus and Turkey, and is DownBeat Magazine’s September 2016 Editor’s pick, JAZZIZ’s Top 10 Critics’ Choice 2014 pick. Sanlıkol is a Jazz pianist, a multi-instrumentalist, a singer, an ethnomusicologist as well as a full-time faculty member at New England Conservatory’s Music History/Musicology Department. In 2016 Sanlıkol was a recipient of The Aaron Copland Fund for Music Performance Program Grant with his unique jazz orchestra/combo, Whatsnext?, and has been praised by critics all over the world for his unique, pluralist, multicultural and energetic musical voice. The Boston Globe noted that Sanlıkol’s “music is colorful, fanciful, full of rhythmic life, and full of feeling. The multiculturalism is not touristy, but rather sophisticated, informed, internalized; Sanlıkol is a citizen of the world”, “…and he (Sanlıkol) is another who could play decisive role in music’s future in the world.” For a full bio of Mehmet Sanlıkol, click here.

The Grammy-nominated string orchestra A Far Cry has developed a distinct approach to music-making, with playing and programming that encourage risk-taking and exploration for both player and audience. Known for its high energy, A Far Cry “brims with personality or, better, personalities, many and varied” (The New York Times). Since its founding in 2007, A Far Cry has fostered those personalities. The self-conducted orchestra is a democracy in which decisions are made collectively and leadership rotates among the players (“Criers”). This structure has led to consistently thoughtful, innovative, and unpredictable programming — and impactful collaborations with celebrated performers and composers. A Far Cry’s omnivorous approach has led to collaborations with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Roomful of Teeth, the Silk Road Ensemble, Vijay Iyer, and David Krakauer. A Far Cry’s eleventh season in 2017-18 reflects the group’s ambition and creativity, continuing along a path The Boston Globe describes as “moving ever forward.” The season includes 15 Boston-area appearances as part of the group’s long-standing residency at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and its own subscription series. For more on A Far Cry, click here.

Image: 16th-century Persian miniature of genies ("jinn"), helping Alexander build the Iron Wall (Wikimedia Commons)

Contact: Liz Flanagan