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Turkish Student Association holds 100-year celebration concert

TURKANA+performs+at+the+100th+anniversary+of+the+Republic+of+Turkyie+celebration+at+Harvest+Vineyard+Church+on+Oct.+29%2C+2023.
Courtesy of Muhammet Arslan
TURKANA performs at the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkyie celebration at Harvest Vineyard Church on Oct. 29, 2023.

The Turkish Student Association (TSA) held a Turkish folk music concert Sunday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Türkyie.

The event began with a speech from Halil Ceylan, a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering.

“Progress can be achieved when we stand together regardless of our backgrounds and beliefs,” Ceylan said.

The concert featured the Turkish folk band TURKANA, an ensemble made up of Turkish and American musicians performing Turkish pop and folk music. The group is based in Iowa City, with one member traveling from Wisconsin to attend and perform at the event. TURKANA consists of five members: Bahri Karacay (sax and lead singer), Paul McCray (solo guitar), John Kramer (bass guitar), Doug Langbehn (keyboard) and John Bayless (drums).

During the concert, TURKANA encouraged audience members to clap and dance along with the music. Members of the audience waved the Turkish flag along with the music and donned clothing with the flag embellished on it.

TURKANA played 22 songs, and by the 11th song the band invited everyone to the front of the stage to do a Turkish folk dance called Halay.

“Halay is an integral part of Turkish culture and was one of the most entertaining and beautiful moments of the event,” Muhammet Bekir Arslan, the event coordinator and a graduate student in architecture, said. “It is a traditional folk dance performed in a group, where participants join hands and form a circle. Halay carries deep cultural significance, and its rhythmic and energetic movements evoke a strong sense of unity and belonging.”

Arslan said at first, learning the steps and coordination of the dance might have seemed challenging for some.

“But as the evening progressed, it became evident that everyone was enjoying themselves,” Arslan said.

All concert attendees were offered complementary Baklava and Turkish tea during the show.

Arlsan said the Turkish Student Association would like to thank everyone who attended and celebrated. To learn more about future events, follow TSA’s Instagram.

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