İlhan Mimaroğlu, a Reminiscence

Was it 1989 or was it 1991? Did this lecture take place in the fall or in the spring? I do not remember these details, but I do remember the moment how I got to know Mimaroğlu’s work. I was at Robert College. That day all the students in my class were required to go to a lecture about music. I did not have a clue about the content of the lecture. I had been playing the guitar for at least three years until that moment and I was able to play pieces by Bach, Charlie Parker or Van Halen. My dream was to become a famous guitar player, I was obsessed with music and I tried to listen to everything that I could lay my hands on. Although I knew somethings about music for my age, I was not prepared for the shock of this lecture at all.

We were all seated in the Suna Kıraç Theater Hall. The lecture was about electronic music. The only electronic music components that I could think at that time were the pedals my favorite guitar players used. The lecture started. Some minutes passed during which we were informed about the history of electronic music and a biography of İlhan Mimaroğlu. After this basic talk, we started listening to a piece by Mimaroğlu. The moment the first sounds came out of the speakers at the hall, I was shocked. I did not know how to categorize this piece, how to listen to this music: should I love this work or hate it, should I laugh at it like most of my classmates did or should I embrace it? Instinctively I loved it, and I wanted to know everything about it. This musical work sounded like nothing I had known at that time. The more the lecturer talked about how the piece was created technically, the more interested I got. It was this specific moment that I knew being an electronic music composer was something that I would like to do for the rest of my life. The title of the piece that have changed my life? It was “Bowery Bum”.

İlhan Mimaroğlu – Bowery Bum, 1964

“Bowery Bum (March 1964)  is the piece that occasioned my association with Jean Dubuffet and opened the way to my discovery of his own extraordinary music (of which I eventually made a first commercial edition on Finnadar SR 9002). The visual impetus of the Dubuffet drawing, one of the Bowery Bums, suggested the form, the content, and even the sound source – the sound of a sole rubber band used as a counterpart to the india ink of the drawing. The outer formal character of the piece corresponds to that of the drawing – a seemingly random maze of lines through which appears a human figure, pathetic and droll.” - İlhan Mimaroğlu, Other Words

Erdem Helvacioglu

Erdem Helvacıoğlu is one of the most renowned new music composers of his generation in Turkey. He has received commissions from the 2006 World Football Championship, TBA 21 The Morning Line, Borusan Center for Culture & Arts, Arter “Space for Art”, The Association for the Art of the Harp, Novelum Contemporary Music Festival, International Istanbul Biennial and the world famous new music ensemble Bang On A Can-All Stars. He has released twelve albums all of which have been included in the “best albums of the year” lists on magazines such as All About Jazz, Textura, Cyclic Defrost, Blogcritics, Perfect Sound Forever and Guitar Player.