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World On Your Street: The Global Music Challenge
Caner Sahin
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Musician: Caner Sahin

Location: London

Instruments: saz / piano

Music: Middle Eastern folk / Turkish / Kurdish / western classical

Listen  Listen (4'02) to Caner Sahin play 'Elife'

Listen to Caner Sahin in the World on Your Street tent at WOMAD 2003

'Even today if anyone ordinary wants to make Kurdish music, that person can't do it easily'.

How I came to this music:

I'm now 31 and have been living in London for three and a half years. When I was only six, I started learning to play the saz (a stringed instrument) from my mother Satey in my hometown of Elbistan in Eastern Turkey. At the age of ten I started to take special lessons and by the time I was fifteen I was living in Istanbul doing a course in music sponsored by the Turkish state education system which took two years.

Between 1991 and 1998, I was teaching there in the Mesopotamian Cultural Centre and also took part in recording and making cassettes of folk music. But at the same time between 1992 and 1995 I was studying classical music on another course in a music academy. After that I went to a fine arts academy in Pera to study classical music for four years, but I completed the course in three years so I had an extra year for my own musical development.

After this I went to Mimar Sinan University to study piano composition at Masters level. Also in 1999 I completed a course by correspondence with the London College of Music. And after that I came to London as an asylum seeker.

Azad Zahawy, Hussein Zahawy and Caner Sahin in the World on Your Street tent at WOMAD 2003It might seem that I was helped by the Turkish government to study, but because where I used to teach in Istanbul is a political place, there was a lot of pressure on the kind of music we played. Even today if anyone ordinary wants to make Kurdish music, that person can't do it easily.

Here in London I teach many students at the Halkevi Kurdish Community Centre in Stoke Newington and another Kurdish community centre called Komkar in Hornsey. Also I teach some students privately.

I've recorded two cassettes with lots of professional people playing as session musicians, not a group as such. Don't Break My Heart was released in January 2003 and at the moment we are still developing a Turkish one. About two years ago I did some music for a Gillette advertisement on the TV. I'm now planning to publish two books about Kurdish music and next year I'm going to start work on a CD.

Where I play:

Because I'm so busy at the moment I'm not gigging much but from time to time I'll pay a big concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. And I've played the Union Chapel. I'm planning another concert in the QEH next year as a soloist and with some of my students. At other times I play in community centres like Halkevi when there are special celebrations or other events

A favourite song:

The song is called Elife and it's an authentic Kurdish folk melody but I actually composed the second and third verses myself and did a new arrangement for it. The song combines classical instruments like piano, violin and guitar with traditional instruments like kamanche (spike fiddle) three different types saz, a ney (a kind of flute) a mey (like a ney!) and some Kurdish Iranian percussion such as dohol. The words address spiritual issues and my friend Ali Can sings them.

Thanks to Hamit Sag for acting as interpreter.
Click here for Hande Domac's storyClick here for Mosi Conde's storyClick here for Rachel McLeod's story

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