Praised by the Washington Post as a “major talent of international caliber”, for Şirin Pancaroğlu, discovering a variety of musical identities for the harp is a central endeavor. Trained as a classical musician, the leading harpist of Turkey is equally active in the realm of Turkish traditional music, improvisation, electronic music, tango and semi-staged performances as she is in mainstream harp repertoire to which she contributes with new works commissioned for her. Regular collaborations with performers and composers of diverse backgrounds have led Pancaroğlu to cross boundaries between musical styles often resulting in music that has been perceived as opening the path to new genres.
Recognized for her thorough interpretative skills and multifaceted personality, Şirin Pancaroğlu has been touring with four large collaborative projects since 2010, namely Elişi (Handcraft), Resonating Universes, Harmonies of Istanbul and Cafe Tango. Ever since her return to Istanbul in 2000, she has been in search of her roots, connecting them with sophisticated taste to her worldly ideas, a glimpse of which she promises to share in her concerts. Her work on unearthing the historical Turco-Ottoman harp called the “çeng”, as well traditional and contemporary Turkish music have earned her a unique place in the history of performers in Turkey.
Born in 1968 in Ankara, Sirin completed the European part of her education at the Geneva Conservatory and subsequently received a Master’s degree from the Indiana University School of Music in USA. She released her first recording A String of Longing in 1988 followed by Under the Shooting Star, Barokarp, Old World – New World, Harmonies of Istanbul , Handcraft, Resonating Universes, Çengnagme and Cafe Tango. She has been a guest soloist at the Festival Printemps des Arts, Berlioz Festival, Rencontres Internationales de Harpe de Dinan, the Festival de la Harpe en Avesnois, the Chirens Chamber Music Festival, the Semaines Musicales de Villeveyrac and the Trièves Festival in France; Holland festival; the Imagine New Music Festival, the Millenium Stage, the Ebb and Flow Arts Festival in the USA, the Belgrade Harp Festival, the Rio de Janeiro International Harp Festival, Seduced by the Harps Festival, Edinburgh International Harp Festival, the Kosovo Dam Festival, the Festival de la Cuidad de Mexico and at all the major international festivals in Turkey.
IMG_9287-aaMs. Pancaroğlu is also credited for her remarkable efforts to introduce the harp to wider audiences in her native Turkey. Her work as the founder of the Association for the Art of the Harp which she established in 2007 took her into a journey of exploration in the field of non-governmental organizations in Turkey, working with official funds, forming alliances with various other organizations and professionals related to the art and business of music. “A kitchen for harpists”, in her words, the association led her to direct an international festival and put on yearly activities to benefit the exposure of the harp and its local-historical counterpart, the Turco-Ottoman lap harp, the çeng through concerts in a variety of settings for diverse audiences ranging from school to neighbourhood concerts, from TV appearances to concerts in prestigious halls and popular open air summer venues.
Şirin Pancaroğlu led a career of academician for six years and has been working with children and adult beginners for many years. She is a published writer of articles on education and musical culture in reviews and newspapers and has been serving on the board of World Harp Congress since 2011. She was presented with an Honorable Mention by the Middle East Technical University Senate, and holds the “Best Virtuoso” Media award of the 19 Mayis University along with an award given by the Contemporary Journalists Association. She is married to Utku Dervent, an artist, and is the mother of a eight-year old boy. She enjoys walking in nature, cooking, photography, visiting archeological sites and travelling in rural Turkey.