Turkish band Istanbul Breeze performs native music


Curtis Almeter | Contributer

Curtis Almeter | ContributorDena El Saffar plays violin during the Istanbul Breeze performance Sept. 18 in Corley Auditorium.

The members of the Turkish band Istanbul Breeze showed the audience their personalities were as bright and cheerful as the music they played. Ozan Cemali, Dena El Saffar and Tim Moore formed the band 2011. Thomás Lozano joined the group this year. They gave explanations and demonstrations of Turkish music and instruments last Friday in Corley Auditorium. Istanbul Breeze also performed concerts Sept. 16 and.

The band began because Cemali wanted to let others enjoy the rich musical culture from his native Turkey. The musical talents of his family led Cemali to begin playing music at age 10. He plays some traditional Turkish instruments like the baglama and the oud, both stringed instruments similar to a guitar or lute.

El Saffar plays many instruments. She began with the violin at age 6.  

“Sometimes it was cool to play, sometimes it wasn’t,” she said.

After high school, her interest in playing music grew, and it has held her captive ever since. El Saffar may have begun with classical music, but she later branched out to Turkish. She described the difference between the two styles as like conformity versus freedom.  

“It makes me feel bilingual,” said El Saffar.  

She said she sometimes inadvertently switches styles during a classical piece and adds her own personal embellishments to it. Then she remembers she is in a classical setting and returns to conformity.

Moore is described as a natural percussionist. He can play a wide variety of instruments from all over the world. Talking about his own music, he said inspiration was something he could not teach his students.

“You either have it or you don’t,” he said. “Traveling with a band is not an easy life.”

Lozano was born in Spain. Among his many other talents, he performs traditional ballads and converts poetry into song. His love of music is evidenced by his advice to others who wonder if they could play music for a living:

“You have to not be able to conceive of a life without music,” he said