Ministry of Culture and Tourism
TURKİSH SUFİ MUSİC ENSEMBLE
It was 1925 when the law was decelerated which had closed lodges of dervishes which are known as “Tekke”s and had prohibited all sorts of rites, ceremonies, acts and music that had been performing in these tekkes. Naturally, Mevlevi rites and music were among those acts which were prohibited to be performed. Those who had been performing these rituals as worship or those who had a passion for it also wanted this tradition to be continued, started to gather and to perform Sema Rites in only some private meetings.
The first Sema ceremony in public after the prohibition was performed in 1954 in the city of Istanbul. After 1954, some private organizations and volunteers started to perform Mevlevi Rites every year on 17th of December in remembrance of Rumi. These performances had been performing mostly in the city of Konya which has Jalaladdin Rumi’s tomb in it. Although it was forbidden to perform such rituals in public, the administration “non-officially” permitted it pretending not to see. But all those years that passed made people forget such traditions. On the other hand, as a direct consequence of the prohibition there were not enough artists to perform Turkish mystic music or Sema ceremonies as perfect as it supposed to be. Yet efforts had been rewarding. As time went by there had been a number of trained musicians, whirling dervishes known as semazens and volunteers who had wanted to participate in the anniversary programs. Thousands of visitors from all over the world were filling the city of Konya to witness the ceremonies which were being performed for the anniversary of Rumi’s death. Hundreds of artists as well, had been coming to Konya to participate in anniversary programs.
When it came to 1990’s it was realized or understood by the government that to perform Mevlevi Rites or to play Turkish Classical Mystic Music was not something to be afraid of, rather it was a national value which should had been preserved and proud of it. This fact was going to be proved again in 2006 when UNESCO accepted that Mevlevi Culture and Mevlevi Music were the world’s cultural heritage that had to be preserved.
As a result of this progress, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism decided to assemble an official sufi music ensemble as a branch of Directorate of Fine Arts. It was decided to open an exam to hire new artists. After the exam which has opened in 1989, almost 40 artists were employed as a state artist and from these artists an assembly was assembled. Thus Konya Turkish Sufi Music Ensemble was born.
The main purpose for which this ensemble was founded, have been to perform Turkish Classical Sufi Music and Mevlevi Sema Rites as perfect as possible, to do researches, to record and publish musical albums and to pass this valuable national treasure on to future generations preserving it as well as possible. It was also aimed to perform those sema ceremonies perfectly which had been performing untidily by some private organizations every year on 17th of December.
In 1990 the ensemble started to work in a small office near Rumi’s tomb. Unfortunately there weren’t any appropriate facilities to carry out the sema ceremonies. Thus the ceremonies had been performing in basketball arenas. Thankfully in 2006 after all the efforts put together from both the administration and the directorate of the ensemble a modern cultural center was built.
The first art director of the ensemble was Mr. Tevfik Soyata. After him Mr. Ahmet Çalışır and Mr. Ahmet Yılmaz worked in this position. The art director have been Mr. Yusuf Kayya since 2003
Since the ensemble was brought together, thousands of sema ceremonies were performed in dozens of countries over six continents. Thousands of concerts were performed almost in the whole world spinning around it like a dervish from Siberia to Sydney.
Beside the anniversary programs in remembrance of Rumi, in an appropriate way to the purpose for which this ensemble was founded, Konya Turkish Sufi Music Ensemble has also been performing a classical Turkish Music concert a month in Mevlana Cultural Center, Konya which has also been the main office for the ensemble since 2006. The Ensemble has also been doing researches on Mevlevi Music, Turkish Classical Music and Turkish Mystic Music aiming to discover rare music pieces to perform and to record albums. The Ensemble has recorded eight Mevlevi Rite albums in makam; Rast, Ussak, Cargah, Dugah, Huseyni, Acembuselik, Suzidil and Karcigar and a Sufi Music album named Vuslat. It has also been worked on recording a couple Turkish Classical Music suites which are known as “Takim” which were never played before.
Our ensemble have executed many TV documentaries, programs and broadcasts for hundreds of TV channels from all over the world such as PBS, BBC, Al Jazira and NBC since it was assembled.
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