NEOTOLIA: Neo-Ancient Anatolian Songs


Saturday, December 10, 2016
8:00 p.m.
170 Beacon Street, Boston

Nazan Nihal - Vocals
Utar Artun - Piano
Jussi Reijonen - Oud & Guitars
Giuseppe Paradiso - Drums
Galen Willet – Bass


Music is a universal language, spanning across all of space and time. Nazan Nihal and Utar Artun are taking music into a new dimension, bringing the old sounds of Turkish Folk Songs (Turku) to life in their new project, Neotolia. Nazan is a remarkable singer/songwriter and Utar possesses unlimited potential as a composer, conductor, film scorer and arranger. When the two met, they were inspired by their mutual addiction to music. Nazan’s unique interpretation of the old Anatolian songs sparked a chord in the musical heart of Utar and it was at this moment that the concept for their new project, Neotolia, was born. Nazan and Utar want to share their contemporary perception of the music that rose out of Anatolia, music with the power to erase the boundaries between history and current times.

As important as their revival of Turkish Folk Songs is their creation of new compositions, mostly in the English and therefore understandable for a big audience. The songs from Neotolia are founded in the heart. Everyday common feelings are captured in lyrics and music, listeners can recognize feelings and emotions that they have been going through. Neotolia also creates music for other artists, while giving support as songwriters and producers. Neotolia feels no boundaries. With their roots in Turkey they explore new directions in music. Domiciled in the States they travel all around the world including Europe, bringing music to their audience. Following their award winning debut album 'Rose Lace', Neotolia finished the recordings of their second album on June 2016. World renowned artists Dave Weckl, Arto Tunçboyacıyan, David Fuze Fiuczynski, Joey Blake, Tahir Aydoğdu, Bassam Saba are featured in their second album.

Nazan Nihal, Vocals

Nazan NihalNazan Nihal started her music career as a songwriter and electric guitar player. She had been on stage in Turkey, The Netherlands, Canada and The States. In Holland Nazan played during the festivities during 400 years relationships between Turkey and The Netherlands in 2012. Parallel to her music career she studied pharmacy, and earned a PhD degree. She moved to Boston in 2013 and started to take private vocal classes from Berklee College of Music Vocal Faculty such as Steven Santoro, Lawrence ''Larry'' Watson, Tom Baskett and Lisa Thorson as well as the Sony Music Entertainment- vocal coach Boris Buriev. In addition to writing her own material she also arranged some Turkish Folksongs.

She released her first single ‘’Today’’ on iTunes in Fall 2013. As a singer/songwriter, she was honored with prestigious prizes. She was the songwriter of "Paket" - First Prize, Miller Music Factory Awards, (Istanbul 2008); was the singer of "The Girl Who Has Chocolate Eyes" - First Prize, TBD Halıcı Electronic Music Contest (Istanbul 2011), was the songwriter of ''Ruh Eşim''- Honorable Mention Award, Turkish National TV (TRT) ''Altın Anten Pop Music Songwriting Contest'' (Istanbul 2014), was the singer, co-arranger, co-producer of Neotolia Rose Lace Album- Bronze Medal, Global Music Awards (Dec 2014) and was the librettist of ''Hiçlik'' the finalist of the 9th National Eczacıbaşı Composition Contest (May 2015).

Utar Artun, piano

Utar ArtunUtar Artun was born in Ankara, Turkey. In 2006, he arranged musical pieces for the theater play “The 7 Women”. Artun arranged many movie soundtracks and oldies for symphonic orchestra, and the Bursa Regional Symphony Orchestra performed his arrangements and compositions in live concerts such as the 2008-2011 New Year Concert and the International Bursa Music Festival in 2009. Artun performed in 7th Eskisehir Jazz Festival, 12th International Ankara Jazz Festival, 6th International Mersin Music Festival and 25th International Ankara Music Festival. In 2008, Artun graduated from Percussion Department of Hacettepe Conservatory with 2nd Rank (runner-up) Degree of School Placement Award. (Turkey)

After graduation, he participated to European Scholarship Tours of Berklee College of Music and graduated in 2.5 years with summa cum laude degree. He was awarded for highly “Honorable Mention” from Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra Composition Competition, Barnes&Noble award, 5 Dean’s List awards, Outstanding Pianist award, Arif Mardin Scholarship Award and Brian Oliver Memorial Award. He was among the finalist of ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composers Competition (2010) and Young Jazz Composers Competition (2011). In January 2010 and 2012, one of his compositions was selected to Jazz Revaluation CD. He is currently a JRR artist of Berklee College of Music and Artun was a part of Birds of Feather, Octave and Ripple Effect albums. In October 2011, he performed with Kevin Eubanks in the studio recording session of WGBH Studios - Boston, MA. In the US, He’s been in workshops, concert performances and clinics with world renowned artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Maria Schneider, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Simon Shaheen, Dave Hines, Larry Finn, Eddie Gomez, Erkan Ogur, Jason Moran, Fred Hersch, Kati Agocs, Ran Blake, Ken Schaphorst, Hankus Netsky, Husnu Senlendirici, Mehmet Ali Sanlikol, Yazhi Guo, Luis Conte, Kenwood Dennard, Jason Linder, Ledisi, Arto Tunc, Jojo Mayer and David Fiuczynski. He involves into the Rhythm of the Universe Project as an Arranger, Performer and Orchestrator, and Planet MicroJam Institute at Berklee College of Music.

Artun has done numerous studio recordings, albums, festivals, concerts and performances in Turkey, Boston, MA and also New York, NY such as Undead Jazz Festival, Burlington Jazz Festival and Detroit Jazz Festival. Artun had performances, touring and clinics in Switzerland (HKB-Bern), France (Paris, Sunset and Nancy, Music Academy International), Austria (Innsbruck- Treibhaus), Germany (Berlin-Aufsturz), Netherlands (Amsterdam- Panama) and Italy (Gezmataz Jazz Festival, Genova). He had a debut performance with Quintet 57 at 19th Istanbul Jazz Festival and 12th Side Culture Art Festival Golden Trombone. He had touring with Jussi Reijonen in Finland along with 8 performances and 5 workshops. Also he had plenty of interviews, TV broadcasts and newspaper-press cuttings in USA and Turkey. He released his band’s “neotolia” EP album – Rose Lace in 2014. He won a Bronze Medal from Global Music Awards 2014 with this album. Recently, he won the Boston Microtonal Society Award and released his new solo music video “Cajonversations” and he won the Beneficent Society Scholarship Award. Currently, got the finals of 9th Eczacibasi National Composition Contest with his symphonic lied "Hiclik". Artun won the 18th HALICI MIDI Composition Contest and 2nd place in the Berklee Film Scoring Contest 7 in 2011. In February 2013, He won a runner-up award of the TRT 2013 Children Choir Contest. In 2013, Artun won the Highest Award of SCAMV 1st National Symphonic Composition Contest. In Turkey, he is one the highly awarded scholars of Foundation of Modern Education (CEV) and Ankara Jazz Society (ACD).

In 2015, Artun got his M.M. degree from the historic New England Conservatory with Academic Honors. He has also composed and arranged over 80 pieces for symphony orchestra, as well as more than 120 pieces for brass bands and big bands. Featured on various studio albums as a piano player, arranger, and drummer. His compositions and arrangements are performed in USA, Switzerland, Turkey, Holland and Russia. Artun is working as an Arranger for Ankara Kent Bigband and Musical Director for Classical Oasis Ensemble. Furthermore, he's a voting member at The Recording Academy for upcoming Grammy Awards. In addition to that, Utar Artun is a member of SCI, NACUSA, Cagdas Turk Bestecileri and BMI. Currently , Artun is a faculty member at Berklee College of Music.

Jussi Reijonen - Oud & Guitars

Jussi ReijonenSounds. Spaces. Shades. Scents.

It is said that music does not lie in the notes themselves but between them, and it is exactly in that space where Boston-based Finnish fretless/fretted guitarist and oudist JUSSI REIJONEN‘s music thrives and blossoms. His critically acclaimed and Independent Music Award -nominated debut album, un, out now on unmusic, has been a lifelong musical journey in the making – a journey that spans three decades and four continents, and which has taken him from his native Northern Finland to years spent living in the Middle East, East Africa, and now the United States. From the very first notes of opening piece Serpentine until the last echoes of album closer, Kaiku, have faded into the ether, the album never once loosens its grip on the unsuspecting listener; what lies between the bookends is a breathtaking musical journey that walks a crooked tightrope between tension and resolution and gracefully dances between the traditions of American and Scandinavian jazz and the folk musics of the Middle East and Africa in its thirst for new sounds and textures. In this day an age, where the term is so frequently misused, un is true world music from a true world citizen – music in its most honest, heartfelt true sense; music with no frontiers.

Although born in Rovaniemi, a picturesque small town on the Arctic Circle in northern Finland, Reijonen did not grow up an ordinary Nordic childhood; the decade between age 6 and 16 was spent moving between Finnish Lapland, Jordan, Tanzania, Oman and Lebanon as his family followed his father’s work around the world. Since relocating to the US in 2008, he has had the honor of performing with the likes of renowned jazz drummer Jack deJohnette, flamenco cantaor legend Pepe de Lucia, Spanish multi-Grammy-award-winning producer and flamenco guitarist Javier Limón, Palestinian oud/violin master Simon Shaheen, fretless guitar pioneer David Fiuczynski, Turkey’s gypsy clarinet legend Hüsnü Senlendirici, and Lebanese nay virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist Bassam Saba, to name a few. As a result, in both his original compositions and his playing, the open spaces and silences of Scandinavia effortlessly rub shoulders with the maqamat of the Arab world and the rhythmic richness of India and West Africa, creating a truly enchanting musical mosaic. As he puts it himself, “This music has come to me over a period of several years… a lifetime, almost. Un is the result of a childhood spent growing up in five different countries on three different continents, and an adulthood spent wondering where I am really from and where my true roots are. For years, I have been trying to find answers to why all these seemingly disparate sounds pull me towards them so strongly, and how to bring what they have given me into a musical handwriting that makes sense and is in balance with itself. For me, un is a journey Home… wherever that might be.”

Giuseppe Paradiso - Drums

Giuseppe ParadisoGiuseppe was born in Santeramo in Colle (Bari, Italy) in 1983 and started his musical studies on drums at the age of six years old. In 2007 he graduated with full marks and honours from the Italian Conservatory "N. Piccinni" of Bari, in percussion instruments, studying with professor Beniamino Forestiere, who later dedicated a composition for solo marimba to Giuseppe Paradiso. At the conservatory he had the opportunity to study mallets (marimba and vibraphone) and often performed as a mallet player (marimba-­‐vibraphone); in 2003 he participated as a soloist at the "International Marimba Competition" at the Superior National Conservatory of Paris, one of the most prestigious mallet’s competition in the world, performing in front of a jury of top exponents. At the same conservatory, he received the 5 year Composition Certificate “Compimento Inferiore”, part of the Contemporary and Experimental Composition program, as well as classical piano for eight years.

As well as his classical training at the conservatory, he attended several jazz and contemporary music workshops and master classes such as “Siena Jazz” Summer Workshop (Italy), “Les journées de la percussion” (Paris, France), "Berklee Summer School at Umbria Jazz" clinics, where he received a Berklee Scholarship for a full-time program of four years at BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC in Boston. He also attended clinics led by international re-known musicians such as Evelyn Glennie, Elvin Jones, Ron Carter, Danilo Perez, Peter Erskine, Antonio Sanchez, Benny Golson, Jimmy Cobb, Victor Mendoza, Massimo Manzi, Ettore Fioravanti amongst others.

In 2008 he moved to Boston (United States) to study at Berklee College of Music, where he graduated in 2011 with Magna Cum Laude in Drums/Performance as a recipient of several scholarships. At Berklee College, he had the opportunity to study with some of the finest musicians and educators in the world such as Ian Froman, Ralph Peterson, Terri Lyne Carlington, John Hazilla, Mark Walker, Ed Saindon, Dave Samuels, Victor Mendoza, Dave Santoro, Jamey Haddad, amongst others.

He has performed internationally and had the pleasure to work both as a sideman and leader with several artists, groups and orchestras from all over the world, including a large variety of musical genres. His performances include multiple festivals, major venues, universities and events, to name a few: "Panama Jazz Festival" (Panama City, Panama); “Newport Jazz Festival”(Newport, RI - USA); "Les Journee de la Percussion" at Conservatoire Superior de Paris (Paris, France); Berklee Performance Center (Boston, MA); "Festival Duni" (Matera, Italy); "Festival Paleariza" (Reggio Calabria, Italy); "Le Giornate Della Percussione" at the Conservatory “G.B.Pergolesi” (Fermo, Italy); Northeastern University (Boston, MA); Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of Boston (USA); Berklee Summer Series (Boston, MA); Dante Alighiery Society of Boston; The Austrian-Canadian Cultural Centre (Calgary, Canada); Ryles Jazz Club, (Cambridge, MA); Shapeshifter Lab, Something Jazz Club (New York City, USA); Gregory’s Jazz Club (Rome, Italy); Ueffilo Jazz Club (Gioia del Colle, Italy), Wally’s Jazz Club (Boston, MA); Hard Rock Café of Boston, Regatta Bar (Cambridge, MA), amongst many others.

TV appearances and radio programs include: Spanish TVE LA2 “Entre Dos Aguas”- documentary produced by 7 times Latin Grammy Award winner Javier Limón; “Boston Strong” video campaign on NECN (United States); FOX 25 (United States); “The New Edge” radio program on WMBR 88.1FM Cambridge public radio (United States); “L’Italia chiamo`” radio show (Boston, USA), as well as several appearances on Italian different TV channels.

Galen Willet – Bass

Galen Willett is a versatile electric bass player and composer from California's San Francisco Bay Area. He attended Berklee College of Music and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in Jazz Composition and Electric Bass Performance.

At Berklee, he studied with Oscar Stagnaro, Esperanza Spalding, Bruno Råberg, Fernando Huergo, and Anthony Vitti, among others. He has performed in a diverse range of styles, including pop/rock, folk, blues, jazz, funk, fusion, several Latin styles, and Afro-pop.

Galen founded the band Forces of Nature and released a free digital album of his compositions for the group, featuring "De Marrakesh A Dakar," which uses rhythms and musical ideas from Morocco and Senegal.

Galen currently performs with Boston-based groups including Kina Zoré (Afro-pop), Maris and the Merry Rockers (pop/reggae), Adam Block Band (blues/rock), Los Soneros de la Seis (Latin), Neotolia (Turkish), and Taxim Square (Turkish). He also offers lessons in Boston and worldwide.