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OMAR FARUK TEKBILEK

Honored as a peacemaker and virtuoso, OMAR FARUK TEKBILEK is now one of the most sought-after musicians, whose work transcends political boundaries while maintaining traditional sensibilities in a way few artists can manage. 

 

Omar Faruk was a musical prodigy. He was born in Adana, Turkey to a musical family who nurtured his precocious talents. At the age of eight, he began his musical career by developing proficiency on the kaval, a small diatonic flute. His musical interests were being nurtured by his older brother and by a sympathetic uncle who owned a music store and who provided lessons.

 

Omar Faruk learned the intricate rhythms of Turkish music, how to read scales and eventually he mastered several other instruments; ney (bamboo flute), zurna (double-reed oboe like instrument with buzzing tone), the baglama (long-necked lute), the oud (the classic lute), as well as percussion. By the age of twelve he began performing professionally at local hot spots. At the same time he studied religion with thoughts of becoming a cleric, or Imam.   

In 1967, upon turning sixteen, he moved to Istanbul where he and his brother spent the following decade as in-demand session musicians. Omar Faruk stayed true to his folkloric roots, but during this period of frenetic session work in the metropolitan music scene, he explored Arabesque, Turkish, and Western styles and the compositional potential of the recording studio. 

 

In Istanbul he also met the Mevlevi Dervishes, the ancient Sufi order of Turkey. He did not join the order, but the head Neyzen (ney player), Aka Gunduz Kutbay, became another source of inspiration.  Omar Faruk was profoundly influenced by their mystical approach and fusion of sound and spirit. During that time he was introduced to Hatha Yoga and eventually to Tai Chi, which he continues to practice daily.

 

Omar Faruk’s skills in the studio blossomed in Istanbul playing with some of the leading Turkish musicians of the day including Orhan Gencebay, flute and saxophone player Ismet Siral and percussionist Burhan Tonguc to name a few. 

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