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Barbershop Istanbul’s Four-Year Journey

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Barbershop Istanbul’s Four-Year Journey

15.06.2017

Barbershop Istanbul’s Four-Year Journey 

Written by Cem Kayıran

Barbershop Istanbul -with their take on classic and modern barbershop- took the stage on May 30th at Akbank Sanat within the scope of Modern Vocal Days. The group, which consists of Enis Turhan, Erdinç Hasılcıoğulları, Kaan Bayır and Onur Zorluuysal, spoke about their four-year adventure and how they shaped their repertoire.

“IT’S A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY WHERE EACH ON OF US HAVE BEEN FORCED TO CONTINUOSLY IMPROVE OUR VOICES AND VOICE TECHNIQUES.”

How did Barbershop Istanbul’s musical journey begin? How did the four of you come together? 

Erdinç Hasılcıoğulları: To be frank, at the beginning forming a barbershop quartet in Turkey didn’t seem like an idea that could be achieved. Deke Sharon, the director of Pitch Perfect who is also a singer and arranger, referred to barbershop as “the black belt of a capella music.” This wasn’t a very encouraging statement but it is realistic. The low number of multi-voice a capella music groups can be attributed to the excessive circulation among these groups and the difficulty of finding experienced male choir singers was an obstacle. In short, the most important thing that enabled the launch of this musical journey was coming together with very talented singers such as Ozan Çavuşoğlu, Enis Turhan and Kaan Bayır. Without a doubt, at that point in my life if there weren’t singers of that calibre, Barbershop Istanbul would have remained just an idea.

During your first three years you worked with Chuck Hunter. What kind of a effect did working with such a name have on your music? 

Kaan Bayır: Working with Chuck was a fantastic experience for all of us. We were so lucky to work with someone who is not only a great barbershop singer but also a great coach. During the time we worked together, our communication was very strong and we got to know each other very well. Due to his experience, his command of barbershop music and his coaching, we came a long way in a short period of time.

What are the key elements that shape your repertoire? 

Kaan Bayır: Together we listen to the songs that we discover on our own and discuss them. We pay attention to the songs in our repertoire that give all of us joy when we are listening to them. Our pool consists of modern barbershop arrangements alongside parts arranged in the classic barbershop style. The stories of the pieces are important for us.

You received an invitation from the Harmony-University-Quartet College, which takes place this July, and you are the first Turkish quartet to join. Are you preparing anything different for this performance? How does the anticipation of taking the stage there feel?

Enis Turhan: Being a part of such an event is very important for us. It is very exciting that we will be able to meet many groups that we have listened to with admiration for years, and to see them live in concert. During this event, coaches will listen to us and we will work together with them. This is called Quartet College. All the quartets that join Quartet College will present a performance.

How would you describe your performances to someone who has not seen you live? 

Onur Zorluuysal: Barbershop music consists of four male vocalists; tenor, lead, baritone and bass. It is based around vocal harmonies and lacks any kind of percussion or instrumentation. Generally the lead sings the melody and the others accompany him in this music. We can say that most people are surprised such lively music can come from just four male vocalists, at least these are the kind comments we get. In our repertoire it is possible to hear familiar melodies, within different arrangements of course. We are sure that simply listening to these as a capella will be a different experience for the listener.

Barbershop Istanbul has until now consisted of four musicians that have appeared in different types of choirs. In comparison to your previous choir experiences, what is the key element that makes Barbershop Istanbul different? 

Enis Turhan: Even if the statement we mentioned earlier that refers to barbershop as the black belt of a capella music sounds ambitious, it is very true. We decided to make music where everyone’s every note and every breath is considered important and worked on with a perfectionist’s touch. What makes it different from a choir is that each of us have to concentrate as if we are singing solo. Believe it, we have spent long hours to get the tone we wanted from a single note.

What kind of interest in vocal and choir music do you think exists in Istanbul and in Turkey? 

Onur Zorluuysal: Vocal groups and choirs are experiencing an important breakthrough and we have to say that this makes us very happy. With every passing day choir music that exceeds the standards is rising in Turkey, there are a number of very successful a capella singers coming out in the world and we see that this has a strong impression on young people. The young people in the universities that have embraced choir music is also a major effect.

On that subject, what importance does Akbank Sanat’s Modern Vocal Days hold? 

Onur Zorluuysal: Our music and other vocal music is in great need of support. Akbank’s support is very valuable in helping to get our name out there and to promote this music. For us, appearing at Akbank Sanat’s Modern Vocal Days was a special source of pride and we were quite happy and excited. Many thanks to Akbank Sanat.

After Modern Vocal Days and your Nashville trip, what is on the calendar for Barbershop Istanbul?

Erdinç Hasılcıoğulları: Some of us have appeared on the stage with different groups in previous years at Modern Vocal Days, but it is the first time as Barbershop Istanbul and for us it is our most important event in Turkey this season. We are planning on finishing this season with Nashville, and our next season will take shape during the holidays. Our main goal up until this point is to perform barbershop music in Turkey with an international quality.



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