Composer synthesizes western and oriental music
Anjelika Akbar performs classical music with Turkish and Eastern strains. A talented musician and author, she also composes film scores and writes children's books.
By Metin Demirsar
Istanbul (Dunya) – When composer and pianist Anjelika Akbar, 43, goes on stage, accompanied by percussionist Mehmet Aktay, she performs an oriental version of Mozart's popular 'Turkish March' – the 'Eclectic Turkish March.'
Mehmet Akatay, one of Turkey's foremost specialists in the darbuka, a small goblet shaped hand drum used to play light, bouncy, fast beat rhythms, accompanies her.
At a concert in Istanbul on September 27, the two performed masterpieces of Johann Sebastian Bach, Turkish minstrel Asik Veysel, German British Baroque composer George Fredric Handel, Paraguayan guitarist Agustin Barrios Mangore, with a mix of Eastern and western strains.
They also performed the music and Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla, Japanese jazz composer Uhera Hiromi, Greek film scores composer Eleni Karaindrou and selections of the works of Mrs. Akbar.
Although she received a rigid classical music education in the former Soviet Union and Turkey, she enjoys mixing local rhythms with classical melodies of the master European composers of classical music so that more people can understand and enjoy music.
"I don't see music as limited by walls. My music is a wondering around as my heart pleases," Mrs. Akbar declared in an interview near her home. "If I have been able to affect even a single person, say a child, with my music, I am happy."
She has more than 400 compositions to her credit, including the original motion picture score for the new Turkish film 'Beni Unutma' (Don't Forget Me), a love story, laced with 19 of her compositions, including the playful and extraordinary 'Days of Happiness.'
The music from the film is introspective and light, resembling Michel Legrand's music from the 1960s French movie 'Umbrellas of Cherbourg.'
She was born in 1969 in Kazakhstan, the daughter of a musician mother and a philosopher father who also directed an orchestra, and was a citizen of the Soviet Union. Her parents were of mixed heredity with some Jewish ancestry.
Mrs. Akbar was a child prodigy. She could play the piano at the age 2.5 years and was four years old when she composed her first music.
Instructors at the Leningrad State Conservatory of Music were quick to spot her talent and admitted her to the Tashkent Uspensky Music School for gifted children, where she studied 11 years. She graduated from the Tashkent State Conservatory. During this period, the Russian Composers Association voted her the 'Best Young Composer.'
In 1990, before the breakup of the Soviet Union, she came to Turkey to write the music score of a film on world ecology that her husband had written. The film was never completed and their marriage soon broke up.
She was pregnant at the time. She decided to remain in Turkey and give birth to her first son, Yurek Akbar, who is now a photography student who takes many of the studio pictures for her albums. She also adopted Turkish citizenship. Mrs. Akbar completed her MA and Ph.D at Hacettepe University School of Music.
She also served as a founding faculty member at the Ankara University State Conservatory.
Mrs. Akbar published her first album 'Su' (Water) featuring her preludes in 1999. The same year she composed the songs of Can Dundar's documentary "Village Institutes."
She launched her 'Bach A L' Orientale' album in 2003 where she fused the works of Bach with oriental instruments.
Her latest albums 'Raindrops by Anjelika' and 'My Turkey' were released in 2009 and 2010 by Universal Music Taxim Edition and Rezonans Music, a company she owns. The later accompanied her autobiography by the same name, published by Isbank.
Her rendition of the Turkish national anthem, 'Istiklal Marsi' in 'My Turkey' is extraordinary.
Mrs. Akbar has performed in in Russia, France, Germany, the Baltic Countries, Central Asia, India, TRNC, Qatar and Turkey.
She has also written a children's tale about Basha, a flying dog.
Mrs Akbar is married to Batu Tarman, a Turkish civil engineer and contractor, and is the mother of 2 children.
The harmony in Istanbul of different cultures living together have influenced her music, she says.
"I was surprised at the multi-cultural life of Istanbul. You could see a nun, a mini-skirted girl and a woman in a black chador together, and they all accepted Turkish nationality," she said.
She has performed with some of the best artists in Turkey, including cellist Rahsan Alpay, as well as popular performers like the belly dancer Asena.
She is currently putting together instrumental works of some of the best Turkish spirituals, such as the works of Yunus Emre; and music about the Cemre, which are three mythical fireballs that come from the heavens to warm earth at the end of each winter. Each Cemre warms one aspect of the nature until summer finally comes.
"I learned about the Cemre in Turkey, though they generate from Central Asia. I was fascinated," she said.
She is also planning to compose the music score for a Turkish movie on autistic children.