Editor's Picks

Arts & Humanities

IU alum Şirin Pancaroglu brings Şimdi Ensemble to Lotus Festival, IU residency

Sept. 16, 2015

For Şirin Pancaroglu, IU alum and co-founder of the Şimdi Ensemble, the opportunity to return to campus fills her with excitement. She remembers how hard it was to leave IU at the end of her program.

“The longer I was here, the longer I wanted to stay,” she said.

Pancaroglu spent four years at IU studying in the IU Jacobs School of Music’s harp department, where she received her master of music in performance in 1992. She was most drawn to renowned harp professor Susann McDonald, who had a major impact on Pancaroglu as a student.

Şimdi Ensemble

IU alumna Şirin Pancaroglu, middle, with fellow Şimdi Ensemble members. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ŞIRIN PANCAROGLU 

“She knows how to build off your strengths and doesn’t focus on your weaknesses,” Pancaroglu said.

She described IU as “the best four years of her life” and her own “paradise.”

“When I left, I left with a sense of self-confidence,” she said. “I felt that I didn’t have any more questions to ask.”

For all of those reasons, she is excited to return to her alma mater and share her professional experiences with students. She will be accompanied by two fellow Şimdi Ensemble members for a residency at IU.

The Şimdi Ensemble, a group that ranges from three to seven members at any given time, is a new project created by Pancaroglu and singer Bora Uymaz -- also visiting with Pancaroglu -- to highlight the Sufi tradition of Anatolia. Şimdi, which is Turkish for “now,” focuses on the present.

“The past is vague, and if we are focused on the future we miss the now,” Pancaroglu said.

She said music is a perfect simulation of how this concept works in real life: “If you’re not in the present, it’s hard to move forward and build your music.”

Pancaroglu said their music is minimalistic for this reason. They focus on simple music with a lot of meaning, and they often improvise as they go along.

Visitors can hear the Şimdi Ensemble at this year’s Lotus World Music and Arts Festival, which takes place Sept. 24 to 27. The group will perform its traditional Turkish music during a concert at the IU Art Museum on Sept. 25 and at Lotus on Sept. 27.

“I’m thankful to everyone who has played a part in arranging my visit,” Pancaroglu said. “I owe a lot to IU.”

Video by Ethan Gill and Aaron Shafer

Pancaroglu's visit aligns with several priorities in the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including a commitment to student success and international engagement.

Read more Arts & Humanities stories »