The choir’s founder and arts director, Mehmet Bajraktarevic, said he was very proud to be in İstanbul for such an important occasion.
The Sultan Mehmed Fatih Ensemble, a Sarajevo-based choir, was at İstanbul’s historic Aya İrini Museum on May 29 to mark the 558th anniversary of the conquest of İstanbul by the Ottomans in 1453, marking the end of the Byzantine era. The choir performed a number of İlahis, or Muslim hymns, during the concert, which was organized by Turkey’s state-owned Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT).
The choir’s founder and arts director, Mehmet Bajraktarevic, said he was very proud to be in İstanbul for such an important occasion. “During my 35-year career, I’ve directed many concerts throughout Europe, but this is the most significant task that I have been given. I am honored that Sultan Mehmed Fatih was chosen to perform at Aya İrini on such an important day in history. This is by far the ‘trophy of my career’,” he said, adding that he was delighted to have been invited to perform at Aya İrini by TRT.
The performance at Aya İrini marked Sultan Mehmed Fatih’s ninth appearance in Turkey in seven years. “We are always excited to perform in Turkey. We are respected here, and our talent is recognized. While in our own country, Bosnia, people are not interested in our choir, or our İlahis. It saddens me, but it is a harsh reality,” Bajraktarevic said ruefully.
The choir director also shared information on the background of the choir. Formed in 2004, the ensemble is made up of nine pedagogues and 100 vocalists of varying age groups. “Sultan Mehmed Fatih has two generations of vocalists. We even have a mother and a daughter singing together,” Bajraktarevic said.
The choir was invited to perform on the anniversary of İstanbul’s conquest, after the general director of TRT, İbrahim Şahin, discovered the ensemble at a concert during a random visit to Bosnia. The ensemble is made up of different choirs from Bosnia and Turkey such as the Choir Dzulistan from Novi Pazar, Serbia. The ensemble’s popular repertoire consists of songs in several different languages, including Persian, Turkish, Bosnian and Arabic, with a unique blend of Western and Balkan influences and traditions.
Cihan news agency
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