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Cenk Ergün

Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 7:30–8:45 p.m.
Location:  ATRM Atrium
Ames Family Atrium
Ames Family Atrium

About The Event

Cenk Ergün, born in Istanbul, Turkey, is a composer and improviser whose work has been performed by So Percussion, JACK Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, Yarn/Wire and others at venues in New York, Amsterdam, Zurich and Istanbul. Ergün has participated in the NY Phil Biennial, Lincoln Center Festival, Gaudeamus Music Week, MATA Festival, Bang on a Can Marathon, WNYC’s New Sounds Live, Peak Performances at Montclair University, Stanford Lively Arts and San Francisco Electronic Music Festival. His music is frequently notable for long durations of meditative soundfields in alternate tuning systems, occupying a unique space between concert and sound installation.

This world premiere performance of Ergün’s Formare (scored for female choir, children’s choir, harpsichords, and trombones) features a coming together of several notable musicians and ensembles of northeast Ohio, including members of the Cleveland Chamber Choir (under the direction of Scott MacPherson); the Cleveland Institute of Music Children’s Choir (under Jennifer Call); harpsichordists Peter Bennett, Michael Quinn, and Qin Ying Tan; and trombonists Lee Allen, Evelyn Proffit, Katie Lambert, and Zoe Cutler.

Free; no ticket required.


Program Notes

The Composer

Cenk Ergün (b. 1978, Turkey) is a composer and improviser based in New York. His music has been performed by artists such as Sō Percussion, JACK Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, Wet Ink, Yarn/Wire, Ensemble Laboratorium, and Joan Jeanrenaud. He creates electronic music recordings and live performances in collaboration with choreographers, filmmakers, and other musicians such as Jason Treuting, Jeff Snyder, and Samita Sinha.

Venues that have featured Ergün’s music include New York’s Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, 92nd Street Y, (Le) Poisson Rouge, Roulette, and the Stone; Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw; Zurich’s Tonhalle; Istanbul’s Babylon; and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie.

Ergün’s music has been heard at NY Phil Biennial, Lincoln Center Festival, LucerneFestival, Gaudeamus Music Week, MATA Festival, Bang on a Can Marathon, WNYC’s New Sounds Live, Peak Performances at Montclair State University, Stanford Lively Arts, and San Francisco Electronic Music Festival.

His first solo composition record, Nana, was released in 2014 on Carrier Records. Other releases include The Art of the Fluke with Alvin Curran and Sō Percussion’s Cage 100: Bootleg Series.

Ergün’s music has been described as “intense,” “haunting,” “ominously throbbing” (NY Times); as “psychedelically meditative” (NewMusicBox); and as showing “conceptual rigor” (The Wire).


Members of the Cleveland Chamber Choir

Scott MacPherson
artistic director

Kristine Caswelch
Melanie Emig
Katie Fowler
Madelyn Hasebein
Kimberly Lauritsen
Natalie Mallis

Kira McGirr
Julie Myers-Pruchenski
Jenna Hall Tucker
Melissa Vandergriff
Kiko Weinroth
Anna White

The Cleveland Institute of Music Children’s Choir

Jennifer Call

Emily Barr
Mira Call
Myka Dent
Mari Garcia-Uchino
Maya Garcia-Uchino
Samara Gibbs
Jackson Gordon
Lourdes Karamlou
Milla Knol

Daniel Lee
Marina Luttge
Maria Pitas
Casey Renner
Alastair Roche
Lisa Singh
Rhea Singh
Iris Von der Heydt
Asher Voorhees


Peter Bennett
Michael Quinn
Qin Ying Tan


Lee Allen
Zoe Cutler
Katie Lambert
Evelyn Proffit


From latin formāre, present active infinitive of formō: to form, create, shape, make, mould

Commissioned by the Cleveland Museum of Art in partnership with the Cleveland Foundation

Music does not exist without listeners: you and the musicians will shape tonight’s experience together. You can attend the performance without interruption, if you would like, or instead can choose to wander in and out of it—the same way you might while exploring galleries in the museum. The center of the atrium will provide the most balanced listening; perhaps it is the ideal spot to experience the music if you are planning to remain stationary throughout the duration of the performance. However, if you are after a more self-curated, adventurous experience, please move freely about the entire space: take an escalator and stand right next to a trombonist or walk to the north allée and plant yourself next to a singer to get a bird’s-eye view of the surroundings. Don’t worry; the performers will be expecting these close encounters with the audience. So, start by grabbing a stool or lying down somewhere, then go get a drink from the café and walk around; perhaps take a picture or a video and share it with friends and family. Have you ever lain down underneath a harpsichord as it is being played? Tonight is your chance!

Formare is a one-hour-long piece of music for female choir, children’s choir, four trombones, and three harpsichords, specifically designed to be realized in the Ames Family Atrium. During multiple visits to the space, I was inspired by its architectural and acoustical character: I found it to be vast and intimate at once, and I wanted to create and place a sound environment in it to magnify these qualities. The title, Formare, means “to form” in Latin; it refers both to the formation of sound and to the positioning of the performers within the space. The four trombonists are divided into pairs and placed on the west and east allées, four of the twelve singers are spread across the north allée, and the other eight, along with the three harpsichordists and a children’s choir, are positioned evenly around the ground floor. This formation is designed to create discrete duets, trios, and quartets throughout the atrium, revealing a different facade of sound depending on one’s listening position.

There is no story here, this music is not about anything, and there is nothing to get. It is simply an environment made of sound to be experienced in this setting, inviting listeners to immerse themselves in it, to meditate, and to explore. Formare also focuses on the physicality of sound and seeks to celebrate the beauty of musical instruments—in this case, the human voice, the trombone, and the harpsichord, each a magical product of design in its own right.

—Cenk Ergün


Generously supported by

Logotype for Cleveland Foundation with using a swash lowercase f.

    These programs made possible in part by the Ernest L. and Louise M. Gartner Fund, the P. J. McMyler Musical Endowment Fund, and the Anton and Rose Zverina Music Fund.

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