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An extended intercultural composition by Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol for Jazz Orchestra featuring NEA Jazz Master/Saxophonist Dave Liebman

The Latest Update

New Video combining animation and band footage released!

Posted on August 7, 2020 by Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol

I felt that seeing musicians playing their instruments in music videos has become quite monotonous lately. As a result, I wanted to introduce a fresh approach… Here is our new video combining animation and band footage about a significant event in the great poet/mystic Rumi’s life: according to some, Rumi composed some of the most beautiful mystical poetry ever written after the murder of Shams (his beloved teacher and friend) by the people of Konya who were jealous of their close relationship.

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“The Rise Up” – Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol & Whatsnext? featuring Dave Liebman EPK

Posted on July 9, 2020 by Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol

We are getting ready to release “The Rise Up” on August 21, 2020 on DÜNYA, and here is our EPK!

www.dunyainc.org – www.sanlikol.com


In 2018, NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman commissioned Turkish-American composer and New England Conservatory faculty member Mehmet Ali Sanlikol to write an extended piece for jazz orchestra featuring Liebman as soloist on soprano saxophone. Liebman, whose career spans 5 decades, belongs to a special category of living jazz musicians who not only performed with icons such as Miles Davis and Elvin Jones, but also continue to help shape the evolution of jazz into our current time. This commission grew out of Liebman’s recent experiences performing Sanlikol’s music. In keeping with their overlapping interests, Mr.Liebman asked Sanlikol to compose a new extended piece with Turkish and Jewish historical themes and musical elements. The commission was partially funded by The Boston Foundation, in recognition of its intercultural and artistic significance. The resulting composition is “THE RISE UP“, a 50-minute work for an expanded jazz orchestra of 26 with oboe, flutes, clarinets, English horn, French horn, trumpets, trombones, bass trombone, 5 saxophones, tuba, drum set, percussion (augmented with a variety of Middle Eastern drums), piano, and Sanlikol on voice and Turkish flutes and reeds — plus a choir of Greek Orthodox cantors.

The piece is inspired by and structured around three episodes from Middle Eastern history which chronicle dark and traumatic events followed by human inspiration and/or transcendental creation. Each episode is comprised of 3 pieces and, the entire composition is made up of 9 non-stop sections in which Sanlikol provides carefully designed improvisational space for Liebman while featuring multiple musical styles, Ottoman-Turkish rhythmic cycles, polymodality, and his unique inventions where American trumpeters use false fingerings in combination with extended tubings to perform precise microtones of the Turkish makam (mode) tradition.

The first narrative centers around the great Sufi poet Rumi, who composed some of the most beautiful mystical poetry ever written after the brutal murder of his beloved teacher, Shams. The second story comes from the traditions of Sephardic Jews, expelled from Catholic Spain but welcomed by the Ottomans, leading to a cultural flowering treasured to this day. The third narrative tells the story of Mimar Sinan, forcibly taken by the Ottomans as a young Orthodox Christian boy, who came to embrace his new Muslim identity and rose to great heights as the master architect of some of the greatest mosques in the world.

“THE RISE UP” was premiered on May 17, 2019, and the piece was received with great enthusiasm by a diverse sold-out crowd. The composition has been recorded this past Fall at New England Conservatory’s brand new studio specifically designed to record large ensembles. On the recording date the orchestra was conducted by Ken Schaphorst, chair of the Jazz department at New England Conservatory. Liebman was featured on soprano saxophone, and Sanlikol on Middle Eastern instruments and voice. To reach wider audiences with this intercultural music, and to make our contribution to the broadening of the jazz vocabulary and reach, we are applying for partial funding of the post-production costs of the studio recording of “THE RISE UP.”

Start and End Dates



Boston, Massachusetts

2 updates
Last update on August 7, 2020

Project Created By

Belmont, Massachusetts
Grammy nominated Turkish-American composer and CMES Harvard University fellow (2013-15) Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol made his Carnegie Hall debut in April 2016 premiering his commissioned piece Harabat/The Intoxicated with the American Composers Orchestra. Other recent works have been heard at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, Jordan Hall and on A Far Cry string orchestra’s recording Dreams and Prayers. He…


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