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Turkey Renovates Armenian Monuments As Gesture

In this Sept. 11, 2008 file photo, the Church of Tigran Honents at Ani is seen in the Turkey-Armenia border province of Kars, Turkey. Turkey has launched a project to conserve an ancient cathedral and a church in what is seen as a gesture of reconciliation toward neighboring Armenia. Photo: Burhan Ozbilici / AP
 ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey has launched a project to conserve an ancient Armenian cathedral and church in what is seen as a gesture of reconciliation toward its neighbor.

Turkey and Armenia have been locked in a bitter dispute for decades over the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey in the last years of the Ottoman Empire. Efforts to normalize relations have been dealt a setback by the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan is a close Muslim ally of Turkey.

Turkey, however, says it is committed to improving ties with Armenia, and has already restored the 10th century Akdamar church, perched on a rocky island in Lake Van in eastern Turkey. It has also allowed once-yearly worship at the site as a gesture to Armenia and its own ethnic Armenian minority.

"Harmony Iraq", A Project for the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq, Launches Kickstarter Campaign

"Harmony Iraq", an Open Goldberg Project, is using the fundraising website Kickstarter to help send young Iraqi musicians to an intensive 2-week summer orchestra camp. The goals of the Kickstarter project include filming the orchestra for a multimedia DVD, and raising money to help directly finance the orchestra. Supporters include Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen's Music.

The National Youth Orchestra of Iraq (NYOI) consists of musicians from all ethnic and religious backgrounds. They come together each summer for  two weeks of intense musical training, learning to trust each other and work together.

A teaser video featuring footage from 2009 and 2010, as well as an interview from Sir Peter Mawell Davies, can be seen on the project's Kickstarter page.

2011 Arif Mardin Music Fellowship Recipient

The American Turkish Society's fifth Arif Mardin Music Fellowship has been awarded to Emir Demirdag, a 19-year-old percussionist from Mersin, Turkey. Emir will be attending the Five-Week Summer Performance Program at Berklee College of Music taking place July 9 - August 12, 2011.  

Throughout his high school career, Emir, who taught himself to play the drums with only the aid of instructional DVDs and books, enjoyed remarkable local and national success in Turkey. He is the recipient of his high school's "Best Music Student" and "Most Promising Musician" awards, and has won numerous titles from local talent shows. Most significantly, out of 2,500 bands, Emir's band qualified for the semi-final of the nationwide "Fanta Stage Music Contest for Amateur Rock Musicians."

On behalf of The American Turkish Society, we congratulate Emir and wish him success this summer at Berklee College of Music.


Launched by The American Turkish Society in memory of Arif Mardin (1932-2006), world-renowned producer/arranger and vice chairman of the organization for many years, the Arif Mardin Music Fellowship aims to further the education of promising musicians from Turkey and give them a chance to study in the United States. The program is conducted in partnership with Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, where Mardin's successful music career began as the first recipient of the Quincy Jones Scholarship. Past recipients of the Fellowship, from earliest to most recent, include Sirma Munyar (piano/vocal), Canberk Kargi (drums), Erol Balci (guitar) and Olgun Acar (percussion).

Turkish Violinist Virtuoso to Perform at Carnegie Hall in May

Image Young Turkish violinist Burcu Göker, known as the "new diva of the violin," will perform at New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall in May. Göker will perform at Carnegie Hall together with American pianist Eric Jenkins on May 2, a statement from the Turkish Culture Ministry said Wednesday. After their concert in New York, the two musicians will come to Turkey and stage performances in five provinces as well as northern Cyprus starting May 9, the statement said.

Göker, a native of Istanbul, started her musical education at the age of eight at the University of Istanbul State Conservatory, where she graduated the high school division at the age of 14.

Kim Kardashian Is Outraged To Find Herself On The Cover Of Cosmo In Turkey

ImageFamed lawyer Mark Geragos -- one of the most outspoken people in the L.A. Armenian community -- is furious that Cosmopolitan ran a picture of Kim Kardashian on the cover of Turkish Cosmo, saying it's another example of Turks rubbing salt in the wound of the Armenian people.

Geragos -- a friend of Kim K's -- tells TMZ ... Turkey seems to be on a campaign to co-opt L.A. Icons.  First, Geragos says, the Turks used Kobe Bryant's image to promote Turkish Airlines, and now Kim.

Geragos says he believes the Kim K cover is a combination of taking advantage of a celebrity and rubbing salt in the wounds of a people who are the victims of genocide.

Geragos says, "Anyone who has synapses firing would never do such a thing." Source: TMZ

Television Drama Enhances Turkey's Popularity in Arab World

ImageTurkey's television drama industry has played a pivotal role in enhancing the country's popularity in the Arab world. "Five years ago the image of Turkey was that of the oppressive Ottoman Empire," Joseph Husseini of Bright I in Lebanon, a media training facility, told Xinhua, adding "the first year Gumus was broadcast, Turkey became the top travel destination."

"Gumus" (silver) was the vanguard of the Turkish drama. Renamed "Noor" (Arabic for "light") and characters renamed with Arabic names, the entire show became a phenomenon in the Arab world. The show was such a success that 85 million Arabs tuned in to watch the series finale broadcast in 2008.

Just a decade ago international sale of Turkish television dramas amounted to less than 1 million U.S. dollars, and in just a few years it managed to reach 50 million dollars in 2010, due primarily to the huge success of those shows in the Middle East.

Turkish productions now make up 60 percent of all programs of Middle Eastern broadcasters, and the demand keeps on growing.


ImageThis year marks the 400th anniversary of the birth of Evliya Çelebi, the famous 17th century Turkish traveler who journeyed across the Ottoman Empire and neighboring lands over a period of four decades.
Evliya Çelebi, born into a wealthy family in İstanbul in 1611, received a good education and served as an accountant at the Ottoman court. He began his travels first with rounds in İstanbul, during which he is known to have taken notes on many aspects of the city, including important buildings, markets and other landmarks, as well as on traditions. Historical sources say his first journey outside the city was in 1640, after which he toured almost all the Ottoman lands -- which then stretched from Algiers in the west to Baku in the east and from Budapest in the north to Yemen in the south.

Evliya Çelebi’s collection of notes from these travels make up a 10-volume work, the “Seyahatname” (Book of Travels), which still stands as a useful guide to the cultural aspects and lifestyle during 17th century Ottoman Empire.

Turkish Singer Ibrahim Tatlises in Critical Condition After Shooting

Image Istanbul (CNN) -- Turkish singer and actor Ibrahim Tatlises was in critical condition Monday after being shot in the head by unknown assailants early Monday morning, his doctor said on television.

Tatlises, who has millions of fans in Turkey and the Middle East, was shot in the right side of his brain and underwent surgery, Dr. Ilhan Elmaci said in front of the Acibadem Hospital.

Tatlises and his spokeswoman, Buket Cakici, were shot as they left the building housing private Turkish television channel Beyaz TV following Tatlises' weekly television show. Cakici was in stable condition, doctors said.

Turkish Embassy in US Hosts Jazz Musicians

Image To commemorate Turkey's second ambassador in Washington Münir Ertegün and his sons Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegün, the Turkish Embassy in Washington will host a series of jazz concerts. The first concert took place Tuesday with a performance by the Grammy-nominated Orrin Evans Trio. The event drew great interest
The Orrin Evans Trio performed during the night.

The Orrin Evans Trio performed during the night. Turkey's Embassy in the United States hosted jazz musicians for the first time in 71 years recently. The embassy hosted a concert in its residence to commemorate Münir Ertegün, Turkey's second ambassador in Washington, and his sons Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegün, who opened their doors to black jazz musicians in 1930s and 1940s when racism was so rigid in the country.
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