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'VOICES' raised in Turkish delight

By Richard Dyer, Globe Staff, 3/22/2002

The PALS Children's Chorus is best known to the local musical public for its regular appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. But those Symphony Hall performances represent only one strand of its activities, which also include an annual concert called ''VOICES'' that features the premiere of a new work commissioned by the chorus (whose name is an acronym for Performing Artists at Lincoln School).

Saturday afternoon's ''VOICES'' premiere of Mehmet Sanlikol's ''Ergenekon: An Ancient Turkish Legend'' was a state occasion (Faruk Logoglu, Turkey's ambassador to the United States, was present), but it turned out to be an artistically significant event as well because Sanlikol is such an unusual and captivating composer. Now in his early 20s, Sanlikol came to Boston a few years ago to study at the Berklee College of Music, where he worked with Herb Pomeroy and founded the band Audio Fact. He has also attended the New England Conservatory, where he has worked with composers George Russell, Daniel Pinkham, and Lee Hyla.

''Ergenekon'' relates a legend about the founding of Turkey, parts of which parallel the story of Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome. Sanlikol skillfully distributes the narrative among the chorus, soloists, and an unusual ensemble consisting of three players of Turkish instruments and seven musicians playing Western instruments. One of the soloists (baritone Nektarios Antoniou) sings in Middle Eastern microtones, another (Laura Stuart) is a Western-style opera/oratorio soprano. There is also an important episode for boy soprano.

The music is colorful, fanciful, full of rhythmic life, and full of feeling. The multiculturalism is not touristy, but rather sophisticated, informed, internalized; Sanlikol is a citizen of the world. One thought of the triumph of Osvaldo Golijov's ''Pasion segun San Marco'' last season with the BSO. ''Ergenekon'' is a simpler work by a composer two decades younger, but Sanlikol's is a talent of comparable dimensions, and he is another who could play a decisive role in music's future in the world. PALS founder and artistic director Johanna Hill Simpson led a vital and exciting performance.

PALS events are invariably inspiring because of the level of performance but depressing because there aren't more organizations like PALS. All these talented youngsters come from an after-school program in a single Brookline school. Other talented students exist in every other school, but there are not enough Johanna Simpsons to go around.

Bocelli in Boston: Additional information is available about the concert by Italian superstar tenor Andrea Bocelli at the FleetCenter Sunday, June 16, at 7:30 p.m.: Stephen Mercurio will be the conductor, and Bocelli will share the program with the Puerto Rican soprano Ana Maria Martinez. Tickets, priced from $65 to $250, go on sale Monday at 10 a.m. at the FleetCenter box office and all Ticketmaster locations; call 617-931-2000 or visit or

Giving back: For nearly 50 years, the Pro Musicis Foundation has been doing good musical deeds. Founded in Paris in 1965 by Father Eugene Merlet, who still leads the organization, Pro Musicis arranges for young musicians to perform recitals in important musical cities such as Boston. In return, the musicians give recitals in venues where people have few opportunities to hear live music: prisons, hospitals, community centers. Gunther Schuller serves as chairman of the committee that selects Pro Musicis winners, and the honor roll is long.

Tomorrow night, four of those artists will return to give a concert to benefit the organization that helped them when they needed it: violist Kim Kashkashian, violinist Irina Muresanu, cellist Sharon Robinson, and pianist John Klibanoff. They will play at 8 p.m. in the Longy School of Music.

This story ran on page C15 of the Boston Globe on 3/22/2002.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.