At home in different worlds
Ottoman court music
Violinist Michalis Kouloumis comes from Cyprus, historically a melting pot of cultures: not only Greek and Turkish but also Armenian and Sephardic Jewish. He was born into a musical family where almost everybody could play an instrument and sing.
For as long as Kouloumis can remember, the violin was always going to be his instrument. At home he mostly heard folk music, but his classical training means he feels at home in that world too. While studying in Athens he discovered ancient Ottoman court music and became fascinated by the maqam, a key aspect of classical Arabic music.
Kouloumis eventually came to the Netherlands to study for a master’s degree in Ottoman music in Rotterdam with none other than Kudsi Ergüner. Together with Michalis Cholevas, a tutor at Codarts who became his mentor, Kouloumis founded Lingua Franca.
An impressive performance at Womex, the international showcase festival for world music, marked the group’s breakthrough outside the Netherlands, and it has successfully performed in various countries around Europe and beyond. In the recording by Kouloumis for MusicMeeting, he plays an improvised taksim based on his composition Traces of Civilization.
Michalis performed at Music Meeting Festival in 2021. Get to know Michalis by checking out his Music Meeting Concert, the Music Meeting Talks interview with Kouloumis or by reading the article 'One violin is not like the next.'