Associate Professor of Music, Theory Program Coordinator
“Onur Türkmen is one of the few composers who has been deeply, conscientiously, and, I think, pioneering transcultural music (…) Onur is for me the perfect cultural and aesthetic “ambassador” for an artistically and musically convincing treatment of Turkish Makams in a contemporary context” ( Ulrich Mertin, violist, Hezarfen Ensemble’s co-director, podcast at Van Outernational)
“(…) (on “but you alone” for choir and string quartet) if Volti had sung nothing but vowels, this piece still would have made its mark” ( Rebecca Wishnia, music critic, San Francisco Classical Voice)
“(…) (on “Beautiful and Unowned” for solo violin) this composition is full of mystery and magic” (Glyn Pursglove, Music Web International)
“In a real sense Türkmen has expanded the vocabulary of international Postmodernism, because as he explains it, his compositional technique refers to a traditional Turkish calligraphic term, hat, or line, which leads to many cultural ramifications” (Huntley Dent, Fanfare Magazine)
“(…) I perceive in his works an imposing intellectual edifice, and they typically provoke in me a flood of meanings and interpretations. From listening to Sailing to Byzantium only one time, I already glimpsed the possibility of a great number of webs of connections that the verbal and musical components can form” (Jane Harrison, professor of musicology, personal blog)
Onur Türkmen is a Turkish composer whose work mainly centers upon two concepts: “Hat”, contemplations on Turkish music makams and instruments; “Ritualistic Drama” that focuses on interconnections between poetry, drama and ritual.
Türkmen has won the 8. Donizetti Classical Music, Composer of the Year Award in Turkey in 2018.
His pieces have been performed by many different ensembles at Schleswig Holstein Festival (2011), Maerz Musik Festival (2013), ISCM (2012, Belgium), November Music Festival (2018), Schiermonnikoog Festival (2018), German Historical Institute International Musicology Congress (2016), Left Coast Chamber Ensemble/ Volti Chorus Season Opening Concert (2016), MUSMA (2012), Kreuztanbul (2009), Istanbul Music Festival (2008), Mediterraneus Project (2010), China-Turkey Communication Concerts (2013) among others. He gave masterclasses and lectures on his music at University of California Davis (2016), Würzburg Hochschule für Musik (2017), University of Memphis (2020), University of Bristol (2021).
His two Ritualistic Dramas so far, have been performed by Yurodny Ensemble (Dublin) (Sailing to Byzantium recepient of Ireland Outcome Grant Summer 2015 and new work award from the Arts Council of Ireland 2019) and Diamanda La Berge Dramm (Amsterdam) (Songs from a Circle, recepient of Eduart van Benium Stichting grant, 2018).
He is the colloborator of European Research Center Project “Beyond East and West: Developing and Documenting and Evolving Transcultural Practice”. His solo violin piece is featured in Ellen Jewett’s CD “Beautiful and Unowned”, published by Naxos Records in May 2019. Recently he received commisions from Goethe Institut and Ankara New Music Festival.
He is the artistic director of NK Ensemble which aims to form a research platform for composers on the usage of Traditional Turkish Music elements in New Music.
He studied composition at Berklee College of Music (undergraduate) and İstanbul Technical University’s MIAM (masters and phD.) with Pieter Snapper and İlhan Usmanbaş.
He is an associate professor, assistant dean at Bilkent University’s Faculty of Music and Performing Arts in Ankara.
Songs from a circle:
Sailing to Byzantium 2019 Official Trailer:
Instant Dances 1-6:
Hat for Kemençe and Strings:
Beautiful and Unowned:
But You Alone: