Welcome to Türkiye: Meet the Performers

We have just over a week to go until our next Language of Food Event on March 28th, celebrating the rich cultural traditions of Turkey.  In anticipation, here’s a look at some of the wonderful performers who will be bringing their talents to the event.  Meanwhile, don’t forget to visit our website to reserve your tickets today!



Led by Serdar Soysal, the Anadolu Youth Dancers is made up of Turkish-American youth from the Seattle area.  Begun in 2009 with 13 children, it has since grown to over 30 members.  The dancers perform regularly at festivals in the region, including the International Children’s Friendship Festival, Northwest FolkLife Festival, and TurkFest. The group gives Turkish-American Children the chance to build leadership, teamwork, and dedication through the performing arts, while sharing the rich tapestry of Turkish folk dances with the Pacific Northwest.

At our event, the group will perform several pieces from their repertoire, including dances from Thrace, the Mediterranean, and the Caucasus.





Bob Beer is the grandson of a Greek immigrant from Marmara Island in northwestern Turkey. When he was nine years old his mother played a record of Greek music from Istanbul, sparking his interest in the region. He met Pontic musicians while in Greece on a foreign exchange program and began learning to play the Pontic lyra; hearing radio programs from Istanbul drew his interests east. He visited Turkey several times, and in 2000 moved to Istanbul, where he lived for 14 years and studied for a time with Erol Parlak. Bob has been a guest of the Arguvan Folk Music Festival and several Turkish folk music radio and television programs.

Izumi Fairbanks lived in Turkey and


Japan and began studying folk music in the mid-2000s after moving to Seattle. She has traveled to Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Brazil to learn, and often takes lessons from visiting masters. She enjoys playing percussion and string instruments (tapan/davul, doli,baglama, panduri, kemence, gudulka) while continuing to study Bulgarian folk music with Alexander Eppler.  She sings in the Georgian polyphonic choir ‘onefourfive’ and plays doli and panduri, and also plays tupan with “Bulgarian Folk Music Group – Alexander Eppler.”  She frequently collaborates with the Anadolu Folkdancers group where she danced and performed for three seasons.

At our event, Bob and Izumi will play Turkish folk music on the kemane fiddle, kemenche, Pontic lyra, baglama, vocals, and drum, both solo and as a duo.

ŞEHR-I SEATTLESehr-i-Seattle_TurkFest10

Şehr-i Seattle focusses on a wide variety of Turkish music.  The members of the group are Mert Sedef, Aslı Selçuk, Güneş Bıyıkoğlu, Berk Nadir, Batuhan Bıyıkoğlu, Tamer Erzurumlu, Barış Saydağ, and Bilgen Çakır.

At our event, they’ll present a fun variety of danceable Turkish popular and contemporary music, featuring hits from the 1970s to today.


IMG_5557Mahmud John Burton, Neyzen Bashi has studied and performed music from a number of the world’s sacred and folkloric musicial traditions for the past 30 years.  In addition to singing, he plays a variety of string and wind instruments, focusing most recently on the oud and ney and the great musical culture of Turkish Mevlevis. Living in Ithaca, New York, he formed and directed the Ithaca Sufi Choir over a 20-year period, and for the past 10 years has provided musical support for MOA events in America. He is currently a member of Cornell Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Music Ensemble, and works with groups and individuals in exploring dimensions of the sacred through sound and music.

Nur Jemaluddin Chris Henke, Neyzen had difficulty finding a musical home in the European based music system. In the early 80’s, he encountered the Raga system of India, a life-changing event. When he discovered the simplicity of learning music in an Aural tradition, where the transmission is passed directly from teacher to student, he finally found his niche. For the next 14 years, he became absorbed in the Raga music of North India, playing the Bansuri flute. Eventually, he met his true Malhar Kuldarni, in India, and made many trips there to study. After that, he turned his attention to his other great musical interest, the Makam music of Turkey. In this, it was natural for him to gravitate IMG_5922toward the ney, the traditional cane flute of Turkey. For more than 15 years, he has been absorbed in the study of the ney and Turkish music. He has made several trips to Turkey and studied music while there, as well as working with eminent Turkish musicians in the USA. Besides playing ney with the Mutrib Orchestra, he has toured extensively with the Latif Bolat Ensemble.

Nureddin Alan Crammatte, Kudumzen Bashi started playing the doumbek in 1975 on Maui with Michael Grubber, and has studied with Vince Delgado and Marry Ellen Donald. A native of Seattle, has also been playing the tabla since 1977, taking lessons in the Unites States and India with Choiltial Mishra and in Kathmandu with Homnoth Upadhaya. Nureddin began playing kudum for the Mevlevis in 1982. To this day, he tours extensively as the main kudum player for major Mevlevi events throughout the United States.

At our event, these members of the Mutrib Orchestra will share classical Turkish songs, as well as specific Sufi music.  They will be joined by Jakarta-born vocalist Jemilla Goldstein, who will sing “ilahi,” a form of Turkish sacred song that involves call and response.  The Mevlevis will also demonstrate the Sufi practice of “turning,” the ceremonial dance practiced by their order, from which they earned the nickname “whirling dervishes.”

Don’t miss out on these wonderful performances next weekend! Plus a banquet of delicious Turkish specialties prepared by Cafe Turko’s Sureyya Gokeri, a Turkish bazaar featuring regional crafts, special guests, and more! Reserve your tickets today at www.nwlanguageacademy.com.