Dr. Cengiz Şişman majored in Psychology, and earned his M.A. in Islamic and Jewish Studies. He completed his Ph.D. in History and Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. He taught in various universities in Turkey and USA. Since 2015, he has been serving as an Assistant Professor of History at University of Houston-CL. He is the winner of several prestigious international grants and scholarship as well as the owner of the 2011 Essay Prize Runner-up award in Modern Jewish Studies. His book, The Burden of Silence: Sabbatai Sevi and the Evolution of the Ottoman-Turkish Donmes, was published by Oxford University Press in September 2015. His work is connected by his deep interest in the history of religions, religious conversion, irreligion, messianism, mysticism, crypto-double identities, and religion and modernity. Currently he is teaching courses on world history, Islamic empires, and the Modern Middle East.
Dr. Ayşe Taşpınar, a native of Turkey, holds a DMA from UCLA under Vitaly Margulis and has concertized worldwide. She is a specialist in the synthesis of Western and Middle Eastern classical music traditions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is currently engaged in exploring the works of classically trained Turkish and Armenian composers and their influences. An active soloist and chamber musician, Ayşe most recently performed with acclaimed violinists Cihat Aşkın and Moves Pogossian earlier this year; both concerts were televised in Armenia and Turkey.
Born in Paris, Ayşe Taşpınar began her music education with her mother. She continued her education at the Conservatorio di Roma “Santa Cecilia” with Pieralberto Biondi; Bilkent University with Ersin Onay; the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatorio di Milano where she studied with Vincenzo Balzani and earned her Diploma di Pianoforte in one year with the highest ranking. In 2004 she was accepted to the Jacob School of Music at Indiana University, earning her MM and performance diploma with Arnaldo Cohen. Her awards include first prize at the Monterosa Kawai (2001), second prize at Vietri Sul Mare (2002), second prize at Castiglion Fiorentino (2003), and first prize at the Seiler Piano Competition (2004).
The extraordinary clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski is a musical force of passion and dynamic virtuosity. Already of international distinction, Lumanovski has launched a major career as a soloist, chamber musician in both classical and cross-over repertoire. His synergistic blend of natural talent and training combines the spirit of folk music with the discipline of classical music. Lumanovski’s performances throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Brazil, Korea and China have received critical acclaim. Lumanovski has mesmerized audiences across the globe. He is proud to have been the soloist of his New York début of the Carter Clarinet Concerto with musicians from New Juilliard Ensemble and the Lucerne Festival Academy with Maestro Boulez.
His performances have been widely reviewed. The New York Times wrote of his work under Pierre Boulez, “the soloist—the brilliant, fearless young clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski—aligned himself with various instrumental contingents of the large ensemble”. Professionally, Lumanovski has had the privilege to perform with innumerable extraordinary musicians and orchestras including: Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, The Berklee Middle Eastern Fusion Ensemble, New Juilliard Ensemble, World Youth Symphony Orchestra, Qatar.
Philharmonie, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, Marcel Khalife, Al Di Meola, Hüsnü Şenlendirici, Zülfü Livaneli etc. Lumanovski is also a master improviser and performer of Macedonian, Turkish and Gypsy music and is presently touring with the renowned New York Gypsy All-Stars, playing throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. This jazz influenced fusion and folk music group exemplifies Lumanovski’s fantastic originality. His sound blends Balkan folk music and western classical music with breathtaking dexterity, musicality and tenacity, lending his style a gratifying complexity. Of his performance with the All-Stars, Lumanovski plays a “blistering series of haunting dance numbers” (Lucid Culture Blog).
Hailed by The Los Angeles Times as “that rare composer able to sound connected with modern music, and yet still seem exotic”, Kamran İnce was born in Montana in 1960 to American and Turkish parents. He holds a Doctorate from Eastman School of Music, and currently serves as Professor of Composition at University of Memphis and at MIAM, Istanbul Technical University. His numerous prizes include the Prix de Rome, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lili Boulanger Prize, and the Arts and Letters Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His Waves of Talya was named one of the best chamber works of the 20th century by a living composer in the Chamber Music Magazine. Leading orchestras throughout the world perform his works. Concerts devoted to his music have recently been heard at the Holland Festival, CBC Encounter Series (Toronto), the Istanbul International Music Festival and Estoril Festival (Lisbon). His music is published by Schott Music Corporation. His latest projects include Songs With Other Words (2014) (recomposing of selected movements from Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words) for Spark and Schleswig-Holstein Festival; Abandoned (2014), a dramatic work (mini opera) for Opera Memphis’ Ghosts of Crosstown Project; Fortuna Sepio Nos (2013), a piano trio for Arkas Trio; it’s a nasreddin (2012) for Berlin Counterpoint and Istanbul Festival; Zamboturfidir (2012) for Yurodny (Dublin) and Hezarfen (Istanbul); Symphony in Blue (2012) for Istanbul Modern Museum; Still, Flow, Surge (2011) for Present Music’s 30th anniversary; Far Variations (2009) for Los Angeles Piano Quartet; Concerto for Orchestra, Turkish Instruments and Voices (2009) for the Turkish Ministry of Culture; Dreamlines (2008) to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Turkish Chamber of Architects (2008); Music for a Lost Earth (ambient music project) (2007); Gloria (Everywhere) (2007) for the Chanticleer Mass project; Turquoise (2005), a project of his various works arranged by him for the Netherlands Blazers Ensemble; and 5th Symphony Galatasaray (2005) in honor of the infamous soccer club’s centennial celebrations.
Önder Özkoç was born in 1978 in Konya, Turkey. He studied economics from 1996-2000 at Hacettepe University in Ankara, and studied composition between 2000-2008 at Hacettepe University Ankara State Conservatory. He received his BM in composition studying with Serdar Muhatov for six years, and received his MM in composition studying with Turgay Erdener for two years. He currently teaches at Hacettepe University Ankara State Conservatory Composition Department. Özkoç's first exposure to music was through folk songs sung by his mother and father at home and the Mevlevi Music atmosphere in Konya. His natural close relationship with the traditional music from early childhood continued on and had formed a basis mainstay and inspiration for him. Özkoç has lectured on traditional Turkish music both in and out of Turkey. In 2013, he was a guest speaker at the traditional music symposium organized by the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory. In 2014, he was invited by Carnegie Mellon University to give a series of seminars on Turkish traditional music and to give a concert of traditional Turkish music. Please visit www.onderozkoc.net for more information. His scores are available at www.sheetmusicplus.com.
Turkish composer, pianist, and conductor Erberk Eryılmaz received his education at Samsun Conservatory, Ankara State Conservatory, the Hartt School, Carnegie Mellon University, and is currently pursuing his doctoral studies at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music.
He has collaborated with ensembles including the Presidential Symphony Orchestra of Turkey, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic, Hartt Symphony, Apollo Chamber Players, and Carpe Diem, Tesla and Del Sol String Quartets. His compositions, performances and recordings have received praise by Washington Post, Fanfare Magazine, Andante, CNN Turk, Cumhuriyet, Hürriyet, and have been featured on Turkish State Radio and American Public Media's Performance Today.
Eryılmaz has received numerous awards including BNY Mellon Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement, the Diemente Prize and top prizes at the Van Rooy Competition for Musical Excellence, Silberman Chamber Music Competition, Carnegie Mellon University's Harry G. Archer Orchestra Composition Competition and String Quartet Composition Competition. He was also selected to participate in the Moon Arts Project which will include his work, "Was her face the moon or sunlight?", expected to be sent to the moon in 2019. This project will bring the first music to the moon. In 2015, Erberk Eryılmaz and his wife Laura Krentzman established Hoppa Project. For more information please visit erberkeryilmaz.com
Hoppa Project aims to promote music from Eastern Europe and the Middle East by performing the music of the region with a wide range of styles from folk to newly commissioned contemporary music. “Hoppa” is an exclamation that is commonly used in the region to say “Come on!, Let’s go!”. This is the attitude we feel is needed to share what we love. Our goal is to expose people to a culture that they might not know well, and also bring foreigners abroad back home with music. Hoppa Project brings western and eastern trained musicians together in order to discover cultural connections. Hoppa Project was established in Pittsburgh, PA in 2015 by Erberk Eryılmaz and Laura Krentzman and has collaborated with varied performers such as Macedonian clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski, Houston-based Apollo Chamber Players, and Australian-Turkish singer Ayşe Göknur Şanal. Hoppa Project has premiered works by Turkish composers Yiğit Kolat and Önder Özkoç, and Iranian-American composer Reza Vali. Currently based in Houston, TX, we hope to contribute to the rich culture of the city by presenting music from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. For more information about Hoppa Project, please visit hoppaproject.com.