sailing to byzantium

Sailing to Byzantium is a major new work by Turkish composer Onur Türkmen for the Irish
new music ensemble Yurodny.
The piece focuses on parallels between the work of two great 20 Century writers: the Irish
poet William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939) and the Turkish poet Ahmet Haşim (1884 – 1933).
Born in different places during the same period of upheaval, both poets lived to witness their
nation fight for independence and shared similar philosophical and aesthetic concerns, in
particular a peculiarly distant attitude towards modernism that derived from an astute sense of
the retelling of history through myth and thus placing the writer in a peripheral position. This
adopted remoteness from the modernism of their age led both poets to two central poetic
tenets: firstly an embracing of the traditional arts of metric poetry and the retention of
sonorous verbal metre evoking ancient rituals, songs and other cultural imagery, and
secondly a concept best formulated by the musicologist Charles Rosen as “past within
present”, in which he explains the 19 Century Lied concepts and their relationships with
contemporary philosophical trends, for example Schubert’s Winterreise and its drawing from
the philosophy of Goethe. For Yeats this took a political perspective, in particular relation to
Ireland’s independence, for Haşim this was more about emphasizing the common ground
between Islamic poetry traditions and symbolism.
The main objective of the composer Onur Türkmen in working with this material is to embed
poetry in music in order to pursue a course that is not circumscribed by material based
structuralisms or conceptualisations; but rather which communicates with the shared
memories of human heritage through emotional and perceptive profundity. It is his belief that
such an approach can contribute to the understanding that the perceived dichotomies of East
and West is only a political entity, whereas culture and humanity itself cannot be so easily
categorized. Within a single moment encompassing both past and present the poet’s soul
inevitably penetrates into a Proustian ‘mémoire involontaire’ where the symbol and the
symbolized are merged towards a transcendental unity that seeks for the unseen beyond the
apparent and reaches out to the unknown through the apprehended. In the inability to define
the language of symbolism all dichotomies like objectivity/subjectivity, past/present, east/west
fade away into a common dream shared by all.
Sailing to Byzantium by Onur Türmen for the Yurodny Ensemble is scored for
Celtic Harp
Piano / Percussion
Led by saxophonist and composer Nick Roth, Yurodny perform contemporary settings of traditional music
from around the world and work collaboratively with performers and composers who embrace a reimagining of tradition and the vitality of the present.
In 2013 the Yurodny Ensemble received the EU Presidency Award by Culture Ireland as part of an
international programme celebrating Ireland’s cultural wealth during their tenure of the Presidency of the
Council of the European Union, and which included headlining performances at the Songlines Encounters
Festival in Kings Place, London, GAIA Festival in Switzerland and a two-week Scandinavian tour.
Upcoming highlights for 2014 include tours of Ireland, Hungary, France and Switzerland, a performance at
the renowned Festival au Desert, Mali and a Norwegian tour featuring special guest Stian Carstenson
including performances at the Oslo World Music Festival and Transform Trondheim Festival.
In addition to their touring schedule, Yurodny will also be returning to the studio to record their third album
for Diatribe Records, ‘Haivka’, featuring a traditional Ukrainian choral ensemble from the Carpathian
mountains and special guest composer Alla Zagaykevych.
Media Links
Cork Jazz:
Kings Place:
Winter Tour:
For booking / management contact:
Nick Roth at Diatribe Records
Email: [email protected]
For promotion / PR contact:
Frances Mitchell at Invented Artists
Email: [email protected]
For more info:
Onur Türkmen is a Turkish composer who is mostly known for innovative usage of Turkish music
instruments and maqams in relation with his concept entitled hat (Islamic calligraphy).
His pieces has been performed by many different ensembles including BL!NDMAN (drums), E-XXI,
Yurodny Ensemble, Arcobaleni Duo, Hezarfen Ensemble, Adapter Ensemble, University of Memphis
Contemporary Chamber Players, Ellen Jewett, Bristol University New Music Ensemble, Razumovsky
Ensemble, Talking Drums Trio, İstanbul Modern Music Ensemble at organizations like MUSMA, ISCM,
Schleswig Holstein Festival, Maerz Musik Festival, Kreuztanbul, Istanbul Music Festival, Mediterraneus
Project, Klasik Keyifler Festivali and China-Turkey Communication Concerts.
He is currently teaching
at Bilkent University Music and Performing Arts Department.
Lauren Kinsella
Irish born Lauren Kinsella is a contemporary vocalist based in London. A resident since 2010, she
continues to establish her career as a singer, composer, bandleader and educator in the UK, Ireland and
more recently in Europe.
Lauren is passionate about uniting the voice within instrumental sound and blending extended vocal
technique and poetry in both improvised and composed settings – which, for her, are closely linked. At
the core of her work lies a deep interest in communication and the development of improvised music
within new physical and stylistic territories. Described by BBC Radio 3’s Jez Nelson, Kinsella’s ‘freeranging vocals and de-constructed syllables really impress’ and it is with this impetus that she seeks to
contextualize voice in sound, words and song.
Her work has been reviewed in several countries including the USA, Germany, the UK, France, Norway,
Switzerland and Ireland and she regularly appears on radio stations such as BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio
Scotland, RTE Lyric FM, Jazz FM and Sverigesradio (Sweden). Performance festival highlights include The
BBC Proms Plus Late, The Shiva Festival, Malleswaram, India, Dublin’s Culture Night Festival, 12 Points
Festival, Lupino Live, The Cork Jazz Festival, The European Jazz Nights Festival, The Songlines Encounters
Festival and The London Jazz Festival.
She performs with and writes for her own quintet, Thought-Fox, The Bears with bassist Chris Hyson,
Blue-Eyed Hawk; whose debut album will be released on Edition Records in 2014 and she collaborates in
duos with Swiss drummer Alex Huber, Loop Collective pianist Dan Nicholls and in a newly formed trio
with acclaimed cellist Hannah Marshall and trumpeter Nick Malcolm. She has released albums under her
own name with Thought-Fox in 2012 described as ‘original and highly satisfying’ (Ian Patterson
AllAboutJazz) and with Alex Huber entitled ‘All this talk about’ described as ’a beautiful, original and
surprising release’ (Jan Granile Jazznytt). She is the featured vocalist on the debut album of Laura Jurd’s
Chaos Orchestra released this year. She is recipient of Awards include the 2013 Kenny Wheeler Jazz
Prize. Lauren currently teaches jazz voice in Leeds Conservatory on the undergraduate program.
Nermin Kaygusuz
Nermin Kaygusuz, who sings the settings of Ahmet Haşim’s poems and play kemençe at the
“Sailing to Byzantium” project, is one of Turkey’s most unique musicians who perform both in
traditional Turkish music and new music genres.
She has worked with ensembles such as Istanbul Baroque Ensemble, Avaze, Arayışlar,
Gönülden Damlalar, Melodias Epicas, Buluşma. Last year she performed with Hezarfen
Ensemble at Berlin Maerz Musik festival and gave concerts, lectures in Europe with the
microtonal guitar - kemençe duo that she established with Tolgahan Çoğulu.
She is currently a professor and head of performance department at ITÜ Turkish Music State
Concervatory .
Sailing to Byzantium
Dramaturgical Outline
Batan Ayın Kenarına Satırlar
(Lines by the side of a setting moon)
Bir vurulmuş ilahı andırıyor
Suda teskin-i zahm eden bu kamer,
Nısf-ı leylin miyah-ı dürunda
Yıkanır, dinlenir, durur ve güler…
Eli bazen “sükut”u ürkütüyor
Ki miyah ellerinde habide,
Ediyor bazı kuşları da’vet
Ah o kuşlar ki şimdi bi-hareket
Suların ateşinde sallanıyor…
Zühali bir cidalin asarı:
Gizli bir kavs-i bi-tenahiden
Oklar indikçe – aks-i alem-i dür –
O muzi cüsse-i ilahiden
Suya bir hun-ı ateşin akıyor…
English Translation
Lines by the side of a setting moon
Like a fallen deity, this moon,
Healing wounds in the water,
In the distant pools of the midnight
Bathes, rests, stays and smiles…
His hand sometimes disturbs the silence
-And in those hands sleeps the lakeInviting certain birds,
O those birds, now motionless,
Swaying in the fires of the waters…
The works of a Saturnian war:
As an endless curve of a secret bow
Sends its arrows – reflections of a distant worldFrom that shining holy body flow
Streams of fiery blood into the water…
Suda yorgun, muzi tecelliler
Ediyor bir takarrübü ifşa:
Kuğular, leyl içinde, sine-güşa
Geliyor gözlerinde mestiler;
Sanki mahmul- i hande keştiler
Ki olunmuş nücümden inşa…
English Translation
Tired, shining apperations in water
Disclosing an intimacy
Swans, in the night, with breasts bare,
Are coming, with drunken eyes;
As if intoxicated with their load of smiles
Built from the stars.
Among School Children
I walk through the long schoolroom questioning;
A kind old nun in a white hood replies;
The children learn to cipher and to sing,
To study reading-books and history,
To cut and sew, be neat in everything
In the best modern way--the children's eyes
In momentary wonder stare upon
A sixty-year-old smiling public man
I dream of a Ledaean body, bent
Above a sinking fire,a tale that she
Told of a harsh reproof, or trivial event
That changed some childish day to tragedy-Told, and it seemed that our two natures blent
Into a sphere from youthful sympathy,
Or else, to alter Plato's parable,
Into the yolk and white of the one shell.
And thinking of that fit of grief or rage
I look upon one child or t'other there
And wonder if she stood so at that age-For even daughters of the swan can share
Something of every paddler's heritage-And had that colour upon cheek or hair,
And thereupon my heart is driven wild:
She stands before me as a living child.
Her present image floats into the mind-Did Quattrocentro finger fashion it
Hollow of cheek as though it drank the wind
And took a mess of shadows for its meat?
And I though never of Ledaean kind
had pretty plumage once--enough of that,
Better to smile on all that smile, and show
There is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow
What youthful mother, a shape upon her lap
Honey of generation had betrayed,
And that must sleep, shriek, struggle to escape
As recollection or the drug decide,
Would think her son, did she but see that shape
With sixty or more winters on its head,
A compensation for the pang of his birth,
Or the uncertainty of his setting forth?
Plato thought nature but a spume that plays
Upon a ghostly paradigm of things;
Soldier Aristotle played the taws
Upon the bottom of a king of kings;
World-famous golden-thighed Pythagoras
Fingered upon a fiddle-stick or strings
What a star sang and careless Muses heard:
Old clothes upon old sticks to scare a bird.
Both nuns and mothers worship images,
But those the candles light are not as those
That animate a mother's reveries,
But keep a marble or a bronze repose.
And yet they too break hearts--O Presences
That passion, piety or affection knows,
And that all heavenly glory symbolize-O self-born mockers of man's enterprise;
Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul,
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?
(My Soul)
Hicran-ı muhitat ile solmuş, sarı, çıplak,
Rakid, ölü bir havza düşen bir kuru yaprak
Sessizce nasıl izler açar sine-i mada
Ey tude-ı nur-ıelem, ey çehre-i sade!
Bir göl gibi durgun uyuyan ruhuma nurun
Aktıkça, o sakin suda her lem’a durum
Bir çin-i felaket gibi ra’şeyle genişler…
Ey eski kamer, ey ezli ruh-ı münevver,
Sen şimdi bu tüllerle muhitatı sararken,
Nurunda teselli, bütün alama koşarken,
Yalnız bu derin gölde senin açtığın izler,
Bir gizli gamın şehka-i seyyalini gizler.
Bir göl ki semasında ne ahenk, ne saye
Vermez o büyük uzlete bir hadd ü nihaye.
Gençlik ve emel, hüzn-i civarında dikendir,
Üstünde esen nefhada bir girye nihendir.
Tülden ve buluttan ve bütün sim ü semenden
Bir hab-ı serabi dökülürken yere senden,
Sen her suda bir başka güzellikle doğarsın,
Ormanların aguş-ı sükutundan akan ab,
Senden alır ahengine bir girye-i bitab.
Göller ki öper hüsnünü yalnız leb-i saye,
Sevdalara bir cennet olan sayeli göller
Altında senin, hüsn-i esatir ile titrer…
Ruhumda, fakat, her dökülen katre-i nurun,
Yalnız bir ölüm, bir ebedi matem-i durun
Nilüfer-i giryanını, ey mah-ı münevver,
Ezhar- ı leyali gibi rüya ile besler.
English Translation
My Soul
Paled with the surrounding desolation, yellow and
A dry leaf falling into a pool that is still and dead
How silently leaves on the water’s breast its trace.
O heap of sad light, O plain of face!
As your light flows into my soul asleep peacefully
like a lake,
It stirs in that still water every distant light flake
Into a wrinkle of disaster that will in tremors
O ancient moon, O soul infinitely enlightened,
As you wrap in these veils the vicinity,
As you run, with consolation in your light, to
Only the traces on this deep lake that you burrow,
Hide the flowing sobs of a disguised sorrow.
Such a lake that on its sky neither harmony nor
Lend a final boundary to that great solitude
Youth and ambition are like a thorn in the grief
And are like a teardrop disguised in the breeze
gently blowing.
As a sleep of mirages, of veil and cloud,
Of silver and jasmine, fall from you to the ground,
On every other water you rise with another
On every other water you are another light,
another moon
The streams flowing in the forests’ silent embrace
Add to their harmony a tired teardrop from your
Lakes that kiss your beauty with only lips’ shadow
Drift into the sleeping sky hanging in the night
with your joy…
Shadowy lakes that are paradises for many loves
Tremble under you with the beauty of fairy tales..
But in my soul every drop of your light that flows,
O enlightened moon, feeds the crying lotus
Of a lonely death, of endless distant mourning
Like the flowers of the night, with dreams.
Sailing to Byzantium
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come