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Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol

Belmont, MA      

Grammy nominated Turkish-American 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, Jordan Hall and on A Far Cry string orchestra’s recording Dreams and Prayers. He is DownBeat Magazine’s September 2016 Editor’s pick, JAZZIZ’s Top 10 Critics’ Choice 2014 pick, a multi-instrumentalist/vocalist, an ethnomusicologist as well as a full-time faculty member at New England Conservatory. Sanlıkol was a recipient of The Aaron Copland Fund for Music Grant twice in 2016 and 2020 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.”

A musical polymath, Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol has composed for, performed and toured with international stars and ensembles suchas Dave Liebman, Bob Brookmeyer, Billy Cobham, Anat Cohen, Antonio Sanchez, Tiger Okoshi, Gil Goldstein, Esperanza Spalding, The Boston Camerata, The Boston Cello Quartet, A Far Cry string orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Okay Temiz and Erkan Oğur. Sanlıkol’sunique blend of jazz composition and Turkish music has been praised by the Boston Globe as “a true fusion of jazz and folkloric Turkish language and colors.” 

On the other hand, his “coffeehouse opera”, entitled Othello in the Seraglio: The Tragedy of Sümbül The Black Eunuch, which has been the recipient of the Paul R. Judy Center grant at Eastman School of Music in 2015, bridges the musical cultures of opera house and coffeehouse, Baroque Italy and Ottoman Turkey. With music from 16th and 17th century European and Turkish sources, arranged, adapted and woven together with original music by Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol, this unique opera has been performed 20 times within three years since it’s premiere on European period instruments and traditional Turkish instruments by an ensemble of specialists in those fields.

Sanlıkol completed his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Composition at the New England Conservatory and helped find the organization DÜNYA based in Boston, Massachusetts. Sanlıkol 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. DÜNYA has released 10 CDs, a single, a concert DVD, a documentary and a feature film with Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol both as director/performer and composer. 

Sanlıkol actively delivers papers and talks at academic conferences such as International Conference on Analytical Approaches to World Musicand Society for Ethnomusicology. Sanlıkol’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 Yapı Kredi Yayınları. Currently, he is the director of New England Conservatory’s Intercultural Institute.

Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol & Whatsnext? feat. Anat Cohen, Dave Liebman, Tiger Okoshi and Antonio Sanchez

EPK of “Resolution” (released on Sept. 23, 2016)

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Othello in the Seraglio TRAILER

This is the trailer of the film version of a ‘coffeehouse opera’, entitled “Othello in the Seraglio: The Tragedy of Sümbül the Black Eunuch”

Conceived and composed by Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol
Storyteller script by Robert Labaree

Based on:
The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare (1603)
Un Capitano Moro (A Moorish Captain) by Giovanbattista Giraldi (Cinzio) (1565)
Kızlarağası’nın Piçi (The Bastard of the Chief Black Eunuch) by Reşad Ekrem Koçu (1933)

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Harabat / The Intoxicated

Recorded by American Composers Orchestra live on April 1, 2016 at Zankel Hall in the program Orchestra Underground: Eastern Wind – www.americancomposersorchestra.org

Composed by Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol, Text: Edip Harabi (1853-1917)

Commissioned by Carnegie Hall / ACO, performed by American Composers Orchestra
George Manahan, Music Director and Conductor
Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol, Vocals and Ud

This piece features influences of classical Ottoman/Turkish music tradition with complex rhythmic cycles (usul) at times infused by Jazz.

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