It was our pleasure this past week to host Turkish singer-songwriter Aysenur Kolivar and her ensemble as part of Arts Midwest World Fest! This is an incredible program organized by Arts Midwest, an alliance of nine state arts councils, including the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, that brings world-class international musicians to small towns across the Midwest.
The group arrived in Adrian from Wilmington, Ohio, on Sunday and settled into their rooms at the Weber Center on the Adrian Dominican Sisters campus. That evening, they performed during a small welcoming reception in the McLaughlin University Center at Siena Heights University.
The first of several public workshops took place Monday at Adrian College, where the band performed for a group of music students, including the members of the Adrian College choir under the direction of Dr. Tom Hodgman. Some of the students stayed afterward and a few even tried out the band’s instruments.
Monday evening at the Adrian District Library, we got a taste of the broad international appeal that the group would attract throughout their visit to our community. Turkey and Iran were among the national origins represented by the people who came to the library for the first of three public workshops the band conducted during their visit.
Tuesday opened with a visit to Adrian Community Preschool. Aysenur’s young daughter, who is traveling with her mother on this tour, was just like one of the students, forming friendships without even a language in common! It was also fun to see a question asked in English and answered in Turkish, then the answer translated into English and finally into Spanish by one of the teachers. The kids loved singing and dancing with the group!
Then in the evening, a large and appreciative audience filled Maria Chapel at the Dominican Life Center. Lindajoy Fenley, the tour manager shared for Arts Midwest, shared that one of the goals of the World Fest is to promote peace and understanding through music — what a great fit for the mission of the Dominican Sisters!
Aysenur and fellow band members Alpay Surucu and Tolga Yenilmez traveled to Toledo early the next morning to perform on NBC24 Today with anchor Stefanie Martinez.
Then it was on to Madison Schools for a workshop in front of a packed audience in the Madison performing arts center. A crew from LISD TV 22 was on hand to shoot footage of the workshop and interview the performers.
Thursday was spent in Hudson, with an afternoon workshop for about 400 students at Hudson Area Schools.
The group also enjoyed the community’s hospitality at Rumors, where they got to be entertained by another group of musicians for a change, and the William G. Thompson House Museum, where Alpay Surucu tried out an accordion from the museum’s collection.
Friday night’s final performance at the Croswell drew a very enthusiastic crowd. We saw people from all over our region, including two young women who drove from Kalamazoo, nearly two hours away, just for the event.
People stayed for about 45 minutes after the concert to talk with the band members. It was obvious that they really connected with the music and the performers.
Although our Turkish friends have moved on to their next stop, the work from their visit will continue throughout the year! Thanks to a grant received by the LISD, dance teachers Eleanore Brown and Yelena Peck will be working with a group of students to teach traditional dances from the Black Sea Region at the annual Lenawee County Fine Arts Festival this spring.
The Croswell would like to thank the sponsors of Arts Midwest World Fest, including MCACA and 3M, in addition to many people who helped organize the events around the county this past week! Special thanks to the Adrian College Music Department, Adrian Community Preschool, Adrian Dominican Sisters, Adrian District Library, Hudson Area Schools, Madison School District and Siena Heights University for hosting workshops and performances; the city of Hudson for the hospitality the group enjoyed on Thursday; the Lenawee Intermediate School District for support in countless ways; the Montessori Children’s House of Lenawee for welcoming Aysenur’s daughter Asude into their classroom on Friday; the staff of the Weber Center for their hospitality; and finally three amazing people who really helped it all come together, Julianne Dolan from the Croswell board of trustees, Ann Hinsdale-Knisel from the LISD, and Joni Warner from Siena Heights.
We hope you’ll join us for Baladino, an ensemble from Israel, this spring!