The music of Armağan Durdağ embraces a Postmodern approach which powerfully integrates Western Neo-Romanticism –including but not limited to Post-minimalistic blend of rock, jazz, and popular music– with the melodic and rhythmic colors of traditional Turkish maqam and folk music. Proud of being born in the 2700-year-old cosmopolitan city of Istanbul as a literal bridge between the Middle-East and Europe, and therefore creating an original synthesis of both Western and Eastern, as well as both modern and ancient musical traditions and spiritualism, Durdağ’s compositions also reflect neo-tonal and modal elements. While employing unique combinations of Western and traditional Turkish music instruments, his music sometimes makes use of intensive polyrhythmic sound masses as well as contrasting silences resulting in a nonlinear and nondirectional quality designed to create a meditative state of mind.
Among his compositions, “Roxana” Cello Concerto was performed for four times by renowned Turkish cellist Rahşan Apay and major orchestras in Turkey, and broadcasted nationwide on television. Katibim, for soprano and piano, was premiered at the 7th Festival of European Songs in Warsaw, Poland with soprano Ece İdil and pianist Metin Ülkü. It is also released in Ece İdil’s 2017 studio album “From the Balkans”. Mother, for string orchestra, commissioned by the Orchestra Ankara was premiered at the 32nd International Ankara Music Festival. Bridges of Light, a double-concerto for two alto saxophones and percussion orchestra, commissioned by Jewish-American saxophonist Allen Rippe, was premiered in 2011, in Memphis, TN under the composer’s own direction, and was dedicated to all the people who were losing their beloved ones in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Bridges of Light was also performed at the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) National Conference in Urbana, Illinois, USA in 2014. The Refuge, for alto & soprano saxophone, cello and piano, also commissioned by Allen Rippe, was premiered in 2017 in Tucson, AZ. It was inspired by Syrian refugees and was dedicated to whoever in the history of the world was forced to leave their beloved country because of a devastating war. Istanbul, for two Turkish traditional instruments (kemençe and kanun) and a mixed ensemble, was commissioned by internationally acclaimed Hezarfen Ensemble, for its five-year European Research Council project, “Beyond East and West: Developing and Documenting an Evolving Transcultural Practice” and was premiered by the ensemble at Guitar+Microtonal Festival in 2017, in Fulda, Germany.
Durdağ also dedicates his time and soul for his special project “New Music for a New World” to be performed by Armağan Durdağ Ensemble founded by the composer himself. The first part written for this project entitled “The Land of Colors” is a 63 minute, 15 movement work, combining Turkish ethnic instruments such as ney, oud, bendir (frame drum), kemençe with Western classical instruments such as the piano, string orchestra, percussions, sometimes including electronic music and a singer, using many different texts from the holy books of the three prominent religions, from some mystics having worldwide reputation and from other important people of the world history. Armağan Durdağ Ensemble premiered The Land of Colors in 2012, at Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall, in Istanbul, Turkey under the baton of Burak Tüzün and the composer himself at the piano. The second part of this project entitled “The Portrait of Freedom”, with 7 new movements, was premiered by the Armağan Durdağ Ensemble in 2015, at Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall. The first 15 movements, entitled The Land of Colors, is scheduled to be released as composer’s first CD album in 2018 in the USA.
Armağan Durdağ was born in 1981 in Istanbul, Turkey. After studying piano privately with Mert Bilginer and the fundamentals of music theory with Nail Yavuzoğlu, he pursued his bachelor’s degree in Music Technologies at the Turkish Music State Conservatory in Istanbul Technical University. Later he moved to Washington, DC, where he studied piano and composition with Jeffery Watson, and orchestral conducting with A. Scott Wood at the Washington Conservatory of Music. He wrote the string orchestrations for Faces & Places, a 2009 jazz album by renowned Turkish composer and pianist Fahir Atakoğlu, which was a candidate for a Grammy nomination. Pursuing his Master of Music degree in Music Composition at the University of Memphis, he studied composition with Rome Prize winner composer Kamran İnce, and orchestral conducting with Kraig Alan Williams. Durdağ has recently completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music Composition with a minor in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Arizona, where he studied composition with prominent American composer Daniel Asia and conducting with Thomas Cockrell. He also taught music composition at this institution as a Teaching Assistant. Master classes he attended are given by such prominent American composers as Joseph Schwantner (Pulitzer), Fred Lerdahl (Pulitzer), Marc Mellits, Sophia Serghi, Christopher Trapani (Rome), Chris Brubeck, David Maslanka, Joan Tower (Grammy), and Bernard Rands (Pulitzer).