Turkish Sufi musician Latif Bolat will lecture and perform at Hobart and William Smith Colleges on Thursday, Oct. 16. Bolat, who will visit classes throughout the day, will talk about Islam and Turkish Sufi practices in relation to Turkish music. His talk will be followed by a multimedia presentation that includes both musical performance and recitation of poetry. The program is co-sponsored by the Religious Studies Department, Office of Religious Life, the Music Department, Baron Fund, Office of Intercultural Affairs, Young Memorial Trust, and Project Nur. It will take place at 7 p.m. in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library, and is free and open to the public.
“I think his presentation has tremendous value in a world in which interreligious conflict appears daily on the news. Not only will Mr. Bolat present new insights about Islamic mysticism, but he will also expose us to some of the tremendous cultural riches of the Islamic world and Turkey in particular,” explains Associate Professor and Chair of Religious Studies Richard Salter.
Earlier this year, Salter had the opportunity to travel to Turkey to present a paper at an academic conference. He notes, “The country was fascinating and its people were incredibly generous, so we jumped at the idea of having someone come to HWS to give us a taste of it here.”
Bolat is one of the most renowned Turkish musicians in North America. He earned his degree in folklore and music at Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey. He then taught traditional music throughout the country and went on to manage Ankara Halk Tiyatrosu, a musical theater company that performed traditional musical plays. Bolat also received additional degrees in Turkish history and Middle East religion and politics from Ankara University and an MBA from San Francisco State University. He now resides in the United States.
He has presented concerts and lectures at colleges, universities, performing arts institutions and festivals across the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, Indonesia and Turkey. With a vast repertory that includes songs in classical, folk and Sufi mystic music styles, he accompanies his singing on the baglama (long-necked lute), and various other traditional instruments from the Turkish folk music tradition.
Specializing in the ancient Turkish mystic-devotional music genre, Bolat strives to create an intimate, almost “storytelling” atmosphere through which to explain Turkish folk and mystic music and its sociopolitical and cultural elements. The entertaining performance invites the audience to ponder questions such as how major sociopolitical factors influence culture and the art it produces.
Bolat has created soundtrack music for George Lucas Studios TV series “Young Indiana Jones” and the PBS documentary “Mohammed: Legacy of a Prophet.” He has released four CDs, distributed worldwide, and is the recipient of the European Union’s “Best collaboration song” award with the Bulgarian group Lot Lorien. The California Art Council recognized Bolat with a grant for his contributions to the preservation of Turkish traditional music, and Turkish Ministry of Culture awarded a grant for his Turkish Sufi poetry translations project titled “Quarreling with God.”