Music of the heart

The rich, religious traditions of the world’s greatest cultures have inspired the creation of song and melody for thousands of years. Many religious rituals and diverse faiths use music as a means of illuminating the divine. On Saturday, Steelgrass Recording Studio continues “The Power of Music” concert series with the renowned Turkish musician Latif Bolat at Church of the Pacific in Princeville.

Traveling to Kaua‘i from Santa Fe, N.M., Bolat orignally hails from the Turkish city of Mersin on the northeastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The musician, singer and composer will present music, poetry, Sufi mystic stories and images from the ancient land of Turkey.

The ecstatic devotional Sufi songs and folk ballads Latif plays are the music and poetry of the Anatolian mystics, kept alive since the 1200s by a small but dedicated cult of devotees. Music that reaches towards establishing the God-human relationship is one aspect of Turkish mysticism, often characterized as trance devotion through dance, poetry and sound.

Bolat, an established Turkish scholar of musical compostition and poetry, states on his Web site, “Ritual and prayer are aspects of Muslim spiritual life shared by mystics and non-mystics alike. But the distinctive worship of the Sufi is the zikr, the remembrance of the friend. Zikr is the first step in the way of love; when somebody loves, one repeats the friend’s name in order to constantly remember this essence in one’s heart, and consequently sees the friend in all living beings.”

Extensively educated in Turkish folklore, music, Middle East religion and politics in both Ankara and San Francisco, Bolat has contributed to the cannon of Turkish music and culture with such magnitude that he is considered one of the foremost scholars and artists working today. Specializing in the ancient Turkish mystic-devotional music genre, Bolat creates an experience through his show that is both educational and entertaining. His performance style has been described as “an intimate, storytelling atmosphere, where he explains Turkish folk and mystic music and its socio-political and cultural elements.

The performance invites the audience to ponder questions such as how major socio-political factors influence culture and the art it produces.” Bolat states, “Turkish zikr music is the primary intermediary to create and sustain such a mood in which participants can experience the unity between themselves and the truth in a trance atmosphere.”

Nestled above Kapa‘a, Steelgrass Ranch and recording studio invited Bolat to perform in this special music series. The ranch is dedicated to diverse sound and culture; Bolat is exemplary in this vision.

“This is the music of the triumph of the spirit: the uplifting wisdom and insight of this Sufi culture has energized and inspired people of good will for centuries, equipping inhabitants of the region to celebrate life, and to transcend the eons of social upheavals they have experienced: the destructive effects of the medieval crusaders, the repressive reigns of Gengis Khan and the Ottoman Empire and the turmoil of the present-day Middle East,” states a Steelgrass release.

Music as celebration and transcendence, a dialogue between the heart of man and the divine, is the hope for all worship music and is a signature of Bolat’s resplendent work.

• Keya Keita, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 or


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