After having left Turkey at the age of 8 years, wherever I lived, whether in England, Argentina or here in Canada, I always felt the visceral need to ground myself in my new land. I have always carried with me that constructive diversity. All this opens the door to multiple tracks of creative thinking and sharing .
- Irem Bekter
Irem Bekter is a multi-disciplined artist notable for her virtuosity demonstrated in each of her chosen fields of expression. The richness of her cultural origins further her artistry. A native of Istanbul, Irem then moved to England at the age of eight. She received diplomas in classical ballet and jazz dance from the Elmhurst Ballet School and perfected at the Royal Academy of Dance. In addition, she graduated from the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts where she studied theatre, radio arts, television, direction, and music and singing.
In 1984, Ms. Bekter moved to Argentina, where she began a prolific career. While pursuing a career in theatre, on television and in film, she was also captivated by that country’s traditional arts and by Argentinian folklore. She became particularly interested in zapateo (Argentine foot tapping) and traditional dances. Simultaneously she perfected her vocal technique in traditional song. She succeeded in merging vocal technique and dance into her own uniquely personal vision. This resulted in her original creation, Medea, la voz de la sangre (Medea, the Voice of Blood), which was performed throughout Argentina from 2002 to 2005, where theatre, voice and dance combined wondrously with elegant musicality.
Having gained the respect of many of Argentina’s emblematic figures, Irem performed as guest artist in Mercedes Sosa’s En Familia in Teatro Opera (1994) and Al despertar in Luna Park (1998).
In April, 1998, Irem was invited to perform with Carlos Saavedra for the National Parliament of Argentina. She is mentioned in the recent book of the journalist of ‘La Nación’ Pablo Gorlero as one of the influencial artists in the Argentine Musical Theatre Scene (Historia de la comedia musical en Argentina).
Upon her arrival in Montreal in 2007, Ms. Bekter continued her innovative path. She performed at the Festival Musique Multi-Montreal accompanied by L’Ensemble 8 (a cello octet), performing her songs and the ‘zapateo’ of northern Argentina.
She was invited to participate in the TV Program “Un pont entre deux cultures” (RCI) “Deux formes d’art”.
In 2008, she founded the group “Irem Bekter et ses Diabluras” and presented a concert she called Súpay, which featured artists from Quebec as well as from South America. The concert was a successful merging of cultures, intriguingly fusing the music of two hemispheres, showcasing the traditional music of Argentina. In 2010, Irem performed at Le Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and in 2011, she recorded her first album PRIMERO with her group, now called Irem Bekter Quintet. The group multiplied its presentations with a Quebec tour of 35 concerts in that period.
From 2008 to 2012, Ms. Bekter collaborated in art therapy workshops, notably at Concordia University’s Center for the Arts in Human Development, for people with developmental challenges. She was then invited to Turkey by renowned percussionist Misirli Ahmet to participate in an international camp focusing on rhythm and art. It was at this time that Ms Bekter developed a renewed passion for her cultural roots. A grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres de Québec enabled her to refine her studies in this area. She studied Turkish music in Quebec with Ismail Fencioglu, and percussion with Ziya Tabassian.
In 2013, the purest expression to date of Bekter’s lifetime artistry came to fruition in the form of a workshop and subsequently a fully developed show. What started as an artist residency later resulted in the creation of Vertige en 4 temps (Vertigo: A Life-Play in 4/4) which played for two weeks in February 2014, and later at the Theatre Outremont on May 31, 2014, in Montreal-Nord in October 2014, Auditorium Le Prévost in October 2015 and recently at the Rialto Theatre in March 2016.
More than 3,000 people cheered Irem and her musicians and the critics have been extremely favorable.