Our final concert in BogaziciTom Lloyd | March 15, 2010
By the time we reached the warm-up rehearsal on Friday afternoon for our final concert, at Bogazici University in Istanbul, we were all feeling a little bit punchy. We had been together for nine full days now, with the last three days taking in all the incredible energy, variety, and stimulation of Istanbul.
We had taken it easy the night before, taking an early curfew after the excitement of a party at the home of the Rector (president) of Bogazici Kadri Ozcaldiran and his wife Perran, an enthusiastic Bryn Mawr alum. The enthusiastic welcome by the Bogazici students had lifted our flagging energy levels. Several bi-co alums were there and became part of the energy of the party.
The next morning we gave free time for sleeping in or exploring the city until 2. A group of us went to the Galata district way at the end of the famous Istiklal pedestrian boulevard, where one of our guides, Firat Dadas, himself an avid percussionist, introduced us to several shops with handmade instruments, both traditional and Western.
Before we began rehearsal in the concert hall at Bogazici, the students showed us around campus a little, including spectacular views of the Bosporus and beautiful gardens.
When we got to the concert hall and had our time on stage, the acoustics looked to be excellent, but the set-up on stage a challenge. There were two levels of risers, but they were very high (about 18″ each) and straight rather than curved, plus the top level wasn’t wide enough to go across far enough for our 3-row formation. Our 4-row mixed formation would be impossible. The risers took up enough space that they didn’t leave much room on the front half of the stage to do our 2-line semi-circle position. In situations like this, it takes a few minutes to assess and figure out the best thing to do. However, the students, as I mentioned, were feeling a bit “punchy,” meaning in this case that they had lots of contrary suggestions on what to do and not much patience for indecisiveness.
After singing a couple of pieces in a 3-line set-up using the risers, and just before we almost completely lost our cool, I decided to give a try to a mixed 2-line semi-circle different from any we had used before to optimize the singers ability to hear each other. Much to everyone’s relief, this seemed to work – people could hear the other parts and the sound in the hall was great.
If a tough dress rehearsal means a great concert, this one certainly proved the rule. There was something electric in the audience that night, which was our largest one yet. The response to our opening spiritual was fantastic, and even more so to our Karanfil Deste Gider.
Most gratifying of all was the prolonged ovation for our performance of the mournful “Bebek,” a challenging 4-part arrangement of a traditional lament with some exposed open intervals that had been tough to tune. We were finally enjoying the best musical benefit of going away together on tour – pieces that were a struggle in rehearsals wedged in between the daily stresses of classwork and other activities all of a sudden gel to a degree we wouldn’t have thought possible. At the end of our half of the program, with the audience clapping in rhythm to our encore “Niksarin Fidinlari” we knew we had come together with each other, the music, and our audience, in an extraordinary way – we felt very, very lucky to be so fortunate.