Brief Portrait of a Master

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Paki Öktem in his workshop

In April 2016 I visited one of the finest instrument makers of Turkey, Paki Öktem in his Istanbul studio along with two friends, Liam Fennelly from Belgium and Bora Uymaz from Izmir. Mr Öktem is a great master of his art. His workshop is world unto itself. This is the world in which he lives accompanied by the instruments he breathes life into a well as the souls of the musicians who plays them.

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The modest “shop” of the great master

One would not guess from the modest external apperance of his workshop what it beholds inside. A vast past of the finest level of instrument making is literally whispered into the ears of the visitor. This is not only a space for work but also for existence. A place where interesting poeple and friends stop by to meet.

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The back of a yaylı tanbur (bowed tanbur), to be seen and listened to at the same time.

While I was there I considered for a short time what we musicians would do without such fine instrument makers. I think we would simply not be so special. Master Paki for example has carved all Turkish music instruments with an amazing level of art and is known to never have made a bad instrument. His instruments have been played by the finest musicans…While a sweet conversation has filled the time spent there, we also looked into the finest details of his craft with admiration. Each of them is a jewel.

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Press quotes on Master Paki’s work

Such artists have unfortunately have no siblings in current Turkey, this level of fine craftmanship is on its way out. I wonder what kind of future expects our children withot peope like Paki Bey in many a field? Master Paki pulls out letters from his archive. He wanted the ministry of culture to acquire his instruments as a collection. A pile of dusty letters came out from the drawer. The result? The ministry failed to understand and grasp the fortune. There is no result. The result is Paki Öktem himself.

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