Photo story: Emine Bostanci plays the Echo of a city

The originally Turkish Emine Bostanci, living in Amsterdam, plays the special and rare string instrument, kemenche. She regularly gives cross-genre concerts, varying between classical music, world and jazz. After the pandemic, she visited various cities and areas and tried to capture the ‘echo of a city’.

Text: Emine Bostanci | Final editing: Angelique van Os | Photography: Ferdi Teunissen

“Since the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic slowly disappeared, I have been traveling around the world; my passion for music and travel has encouraged me to explore the relationships between cultural history, atmosphere, ambiance and music of an environment. This is what I call the ‘echo’ of a city. For this purpose, I started recording short performances in certain cities, with a simple camera, to publish them on my social media. My final The goal was to visit seven different cities and perform an improvisation in each of them that reflects on my impressions about that specific environment and atmosphere. “

Chania, Crete

“The first photo from the series (left) was taken in Chania, on the Greek island of Crete (left). In my experience, Crete exudes a dynamic as well as sad and melancholic atmosphere. Especially for Turkish visitors, because whoever comes here sees many shops and restaurants with Turkish names. When I was in Chania I heard anecdotes about what it was like before the population exchange, when Greeks and Turks lived together peacefully here. I tried to imagine that, how they were creative and beautiful together and all those emotions to express in my improvisation.”

What exactly is a kemence? And how does that sound?

The classical kemence or kemenche is a pear-shaped string instrument with a spherical body. The instrument is used to play both folk and classical music. The kemence is mainly found in Istanbul and the eastern regions of Turkey and is closely related to the Byzantine lyra. The instrument has a long history and has had a major influence on a number of different cultures. In terms of sound, the kemence approximates the human voice. Scroll down to read more about Emine’s background.

Tulum, Mexico

“The Mayans, who lived in abundance during their 300-year civilization, with wisdom and a focus on aesthetics, abruptly and without explanation disappeared from the scene, leaving behind their rich culture. Their active life in the cities ended, artifacts no longer appeared and temples that were under construction were abandoned. This is still one of the great mysteries of history. In ‘Echoes of Mayan’s Tulum’ I tried to musically record the ancient footsteps of the Mayans, who lived for decades lived in Tulum.”


“Musically I have tried to base my interpretation on one of my favorite makams: ‘Evcara’, using a pentatonic scale. Nevertheless, the nature of the makam has led me to traditional ornaments and a combination of these elements has created the created the atmosphere that I had in mind for such a theme.”

The photo above was taken at a special location, at Azulik (see video) .

Wat is een makam?

A makam is a system of melody types used in Turkish classical music and Turkish folk music. It offers a complex set of rules for composing and its performance. Each makam specifies unique intervals and structures, based on melodic developments. There are more than 400 (!) different types of makams, but many of them are no longer in use. Watch HERE for more information.

Granada, Spain

“Granada is the heart of Andalusian culture. Here, Eastern and Western culture are beautifully intertwined. The music and echo also reflect on this beautiful cultural fusion. For Echoes of Granada I I especially tried to think about the oriental texture of Andalusia, which feels more like ‘home’ to me. We found this magical little courtyard, hidden in theAlhambra and managed to get permission for a half-hour recording session!”

The Alhambra is one of the eight wonders of the world. The palace complex and former fortress is one of the most famous monuments and best preserved buildings of Islamic architecture. It is actually a ‘miniature city’. The complex was built over several centuries. Look HERE for more info.

Granada, Spain
Camilhemsin, Turkey

Camilhemsin, Turkey

“The Black Sea region has a dynamic music tradition. It is characterized by fast-moving dances and songs. It is in stark contrast to nature, which is exceptionally peaceful and calm. After an intense walk up a hill, we came across this breathtaking views. It was quite a challenge to capture the ‘echo’ of this place. During this session I reflected on my knowledge of this region, as well as on the moment and my immediate surroundings.” Favicon

For more ‘Echoes of a City’ stories and music, visit Emine’sInstagrampage.

Would you like to read more about music and travel? Then look HERE.

Background Emine Bostanci

Emine Bostanci was born in Istanbul. She has lived in Amsterdam for several years and has won several prizes as a classical musician of the kemenche and Cretan lira. Emine is the only European-based master of the Turkish Kemenche. She blends her signature sound by combining Ottoman styles and traditional Greek influences with a contemporary approach.

Emine has perfected irregular rhythms and time signatures to such an extent that she explores vast areas of world, classical and jazz music.

Emine has been selected by the Grachtenfestival, Gaudeamus and November Music asartist in residence for the series Nieuwe Noten, for which she will perform new music by a young composer during these festivals.


Emine has various projects with which she regularly performs. One of these is Dareyn Q7, where she combines the mystical sound of the kemenche – with its heritage of traditional music from Istanbul and the Silk Road – with the deep-rooted sound of the cello, played by Maya Fridman. In addition, jazz musicians, percussionist Vinsent Planjer and pianist(s) Franz von Chossy (alternating live with Miran Noh) bring their own sound to the group, creating a poetically exotic whole. Their first CD entitled Ghost Secrets was released in early 2024 and they toured the Netherlands and Turkey.

Look HERE for more information.

2023. Dareyn. Emine Bostanci. Maya Fridman. Vinsent Planjer. Franz von Chossy. | Photo: Allard Willemse


Did you like this article? Share it with the world!


Read more stories and tips

We have not found this blog