Irem Bekter, singer,
songwriter and performer
A skillful fusion of cultures and genres made of a tightly blended artistic experience
Singer-songwriter and performer Irem Bekter was born in Istanbul and is described by Alain Brunet of La Presse as a “living heritage”. As a child, Irem Bekter emigrated to England where she obtained degrees in classical and jazz dance at the Elmhurst Ballet School and completed her training at the Royal Academy of Dance in London. After graduating from the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, she went on to perfect her skills in theatre, radio, television, directing, music (solfeggio) and singing (classical and musical).
From London to Buenos Aires
In 1985, Irem moved to Argentina where she began a prolific career in theatre, television, film and music. There she learned voice techniques in traditional and indigenous songs and traditional dances such as zapateo (Argentinean podorythmy). In 2001, Irem created a multidisciplinary work (zapateo, theatre, song and dance) entitled Medea, la Voz de la Sangre, which was presented on various stages from 2002 to 2005.
Irem Bekter has left everyone speechless […] She is one of the personalities that has strongly influenced the Argentine art scene.
Having earned the respect of her peers, she was invited by celebrity Mercedes Sosa to participate in her concerts En Familia (1994) and Al Despertar (1998). “Irem Bekter has left everyone speechless […] She is one of the personalities who has strongly influenced the Argentine artistic scene,” writes journalist Pablo Gorlero in his book Teatro Musical 1 Broadway (2013).
From Buenos Aires to Montreal
Upon her arrival in Quebec in 2007, Irem founded the Irem Bekter Quintet which was programmed at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The first album, Primero, was released in 2010. The ensemble has been performing in Montreal and the surrounding area for a tour of over 35 concerts.
Thirty years after leaving her native Turkey, Irem returned in 2012 to rediscover her cultural heritage. Then, with a CALQ scholarship in 2013, she perfected her knowledge of Turkish music, in traditional and classical Turkish singing techniques with Ismail Fencioğlu and percussion (bendir/daf) with Ziya Tabassian.
‘Upon her arrival in Quebec in 2007, Irem founded the Irem Bekter Quintet which was programmed at the Montreal International Jazz Festival.’
She draws on her biographical background to create and perform works in four languages (French, Turkish, English, Spanish), where her various musical influences are combined. The result is the show Vertige en 4 temps (2014) performed at the Théâtre Outremont and the Rialto, among others, which has received very good reviews.
In 2017-2018, Irem formed a five-piece collective, the Irem Bekter Project, and continued to create a new musical language. She immerses herself in the repertoire of Quebec songs and poetry and surrounds herself with local singer-songwriters. This approach allows her to unite various sounds that reflect her rich and diversified background while putting her talents as a songwriter and composer to good use.
Irem’s new album – Je suis ici (I am here)
2019 was dedicated to the recording of a new album, Je suis ici, where various aspects of Irem’s musical universe are integrated with instrumentation where piano, guitar, double bass, oud, accordion, darbouka and tablas are present. Produced by Marc Labelle under the label Amérix Artists, the album is now available on the website irembekter.com
Drawing from her four cultural points of reference, Irem Bekter offers a tightly blended artistic experience like few others. With the help of a grant from the Conseil des arts de Montréal, Irem is preparing a new show in 2021 to promote the songs from the album Je suis ici, where theatricality will be firmly anchored, pushing further the uniqueness of her artistic approach where accents of various cultures pepper her Quebec identity.
‘Irem’s musical journey is enriched by the culture of four countries. It is this universe that she wishes to share with you…’
Je suis ici is Irem Bekter’s first solo album, released in the middle of the pandemic last August on the Amerix Artists label. Irem’s artistic landscape is nourished by the cultures that have shaped her life and draws on her heritage to offer a varied repertoire. For her Je suis ici concert, Irem Bekter affirms her Québecoise identity and integrates it into a program where piano, guitar and double bass interact with oud, darboukas and tablas.
On stage, she’ll be presenting original compositions with an autobiographical slant, lending her superb voice to pieces by Raymond Lévesque, Benoît LeBlanc, Astor Piazzolla, Sylvain-Claude Filion and Jean-François LaMothe, and singing traditional Turkish and Argentinean songs with arrangements she created with her musicians.
Irem Bekter voice, composition and musical direction
David Rashpan piano
Michel Cotnoir guitar
Nazih Borish oud
Mathieu Deschenaux double bass
Bertil Schulrabe drums and percussion
Pablo Bonacina guitar
Joel Kerr double bass
Luzio Altobelli piano
Elvira Misbakhova viola
Marc Labelle recording producer
Jacob Lacroix-Cardinal sound engineer
Trillium Sound Mastering sound mastering
Aurélie Lévesque-Gauvin graphic designer
You can listen to IREM – Je suis ici |Amérix Artists, AAR2-480  on digital platforms.
Images: Irem Bekter – Courtesy of Traquen’art
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Traquen’Art has an impressive track record with more than 600 concerts in music and other forms of performing arts. A rich and varied programming, introducing on different Quebec stages internationally renowned artists such as Jordi Savall, Manu Dibango, Diego el Cigala, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Israel Galván, Zakir Hussain, Salif Keita, Sister Marie Keyrouz, Angélique Kidjo, Fela Juti, Mariza, The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices, Youssou N’Dour, Paco Peña, Philip Glass Ensemble, Arditti Quartet, Mercedes Sosa, King Sunny Adé and many others.