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 2011, namely Elişi (Handcraft), Çengnağme (The Song of the Çeng), Cafe Tango and her sufi music band Şimdi Ensemble. 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 her dedication to traditional and contemporary Turkish music have earned Şirin a unique place in the history of performers in Turkey. In 2013 she has started to collaborate with singer and composer of Turkish music, Bora Uymaz, with whom she has founded Şimdi Ensemble. Together they have released three albums, “Çengnağme”, “Cafe Tango” and “Eternal Love”. Pancaroğlu has been motivated to compose under the guidance of Uymaz, leading to a third prize in the 2014 Altın Elma Turkish Music Composition Contest.
Born in 1968 in Ankara, Şirin completed the European part of her education at the Geneva Conservatory and subsequently received a Master’s degree from Indiana University Jacob’s 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, Çengnağme, Cafe Tango and Eternal Love. She has has performed at international festivals and concert series in UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweeden, Germany, Serbia, Kosovo, Korea, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, and Azerbeijan. In 2015 she was invited by Indiana University First Lady, Laurie Burns McRobbie for a residency at her alma mater, Indiana University Jacob’s School of Music where she participated at the Lotus Festival, taught lectures, gave a career talk and performed a solo recital, her first return to Bloomington in more than 20 years.
Ms. Pancaroğlu is 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 is a regular jury member at international harp competitions around the world. A published writer of articles on musical culture in reviews and newspapers, she 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 ten-year old boy. She enjoys walking in nature, cooking, photography, visiting archeological sites and travelling in rural Turkey.