Esra Berkman – Kanun
Born in 1980, Esra Berkman was graduated from Yıldız Technical University, Department of Music and Performing Arts with a major in Music Ensembles in the branch of “Kanun” in 2004. She was a student of Prof. Ruhi Ayangil. She completed her master’s degree in Art and Design at YTU Institute of Social Sciences in 2007 with her thesis titled: “Viewing 20th Century Kanun Art Through the Context of the Thoughts and Approaches of the Five Kanun Players Who Learned to Play via Autodidactic Method”. She earned her Proficiency in Art PhD degree at the same institution in 2012 with her thesis titled: “Kanun Virtuoso, Composer and Educator Khachatur Avetisian (1926-1996) and Conversion of Music in the Context of Kanun Instrument in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic”. Within the same framework, she carried out studies on Armenian kanun repertoire with Khachatur Avetisyan’s students Assoc. Prof. Anahit Valesyan of Gyumri Conservatory and Prof. Karine Hovhannisyan of Yerevan State Komitas Conservatory.
Esra Berkman participated as a trainee to the “International Qanun Meeting” held by MediMuses in Beirut on January, 2003. She attended the masterclasses given as part of this organization by Apostolos Tsardakas, Imane Homsy, Emile Haddad, and Erol Deran; and received certificates. She presented her first recital performance in Beirut at Saint Joseph Hall. Between 2004-2010, she organized the “Kanun Circle” meetings, administered by Ruhi Ayangil, which was held nine times by 2010. She was the kanun performer for the CD project “Şimdi Hatırda Mıdır? / Şarkılar ve Saz Eserleri” (Can It Be Remembered Now? / Songs and Instrumental Music), produced under the art direction of Nevzat Sümer in 2007. She worked as répétiteur at the YTU Cumhuriyet Choir in 2004-2009, and as kanun performer at Ayangil Turkish Music Orchestra in 2006–2008. She played the kanun part for Selman Ada’s Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves Opera performed by Istanbul State Opera and Ballet Orchestra in the 2006–2007 season. She had the opportunity of performing Khachatur Avetisyan’s compositions for kanun-piano many times in Turkey and abroad with the Kanun Piano Duo she founded. At the request of Berkman, four young contemporary composers, Tolga Zafer Özdemir, Enis Gümüş, Uğraş Durmuş, and Onur Türkmen composed and/or transcribed music pieces for Kanun Piano Duo. The duo received their certificate from the masterclass of chamber music held by conductor Nvart Andreassian at the YTU Vedat Kosal Music Research Centre on April 21, 2010.
Berkman played the kanun parts for Hasan Uçarsu’s chamber music work “Eski İstanbul’un Arka Sokaklarında” (At the Back Streets of Old Istanbul) at ITU MIAM İlhan Usmanbaş Hall in 2009, with the contemporary music ensemble Diskant Ensemble; and for composer Evrim Demirel’s “Anadolu’dan Dört Halk Türküsü” (Four Folk Songs from Anatolia) within pianist Birsen Ulucan’s CD work “Masallar, Rüyalar, Fısıltılar” (Tales, Dreams, Whispers), with Istanbul Contemporary Music Ensemble founded on 2010. Having published works in Turkish and international academic journals, Berkman is an research assistant at the Department of Music and Performance Arts at Yıldız Technical University Art and Design Faculty since 2007. She has been giving concerts in Turkey and abroad with pianist Nazlı Işıldak as Kanun Piano Duo since 2011.