ISTANBUL, Turkey, June 11, 2007 – The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, along with the Consulate General of the Republic of Turkey and in association with UNESCO will be offering the New York public a rare opportunity to experience the ancient ceremony of the famous Whirling Dervishes when they welcome the Istanbul Music and Sema Group to New York to give a one-time-only, free performance at Town Hall on Saturday, June 23rd. The evening will begin at 7:00 pm with a special presentation by Professor Dr. Mahmud Erol Kiliç who will describe the unique ceremony of “Rumi and His Ecstatic Love” followed by a performance of the legendary Whirling Dervish ritual.

“We are honored to welcome such an acclaimed group of talented performers from Turkey,” states Turkish Culture and Tourism Office Director Hasan Zöngür. “We are giving the public the opportunity to experience a sacred part of our culture with hopes that they will visit our beautiful country and experience our rich heritage first-hand.”

The Istanbul Music and Sema Group’s philosophy is to share two of the most important elements of Turkish Culture – its traditional music and spiritual ceremonies – with a wide audience. The concert will feature Turkish classical music, Tasavvuf (mystical) music, and Sema ceremonies (Whirling Dervish performances) as they have traditionally been performed for hundreds of years.

Every December, more than 1 million people descend on Konya, Turkey, to witness the Whirling Dervish Festival. The annual festival marks the anniversary of the death of Mevlâna Celaleddin Rumi, the poet and philosopher who founded the Mevlevi Order in the 13th century. The Festival puts forth the philosophy that music, singing, chanting and measured recitation are designed to bring about religious emotion and ecstasy.

The June 23rd performance is of particular significance this year, as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced that it is commemorating the 800th anniversary of Mevlâna Celaleddin Rumi’s birth as one of the anniversary celebrations with which UNESCO is associated. For more information, visit www.unesco.org.

To obtain complimentary General Admission tickets to the June 23rd Whirling Dervish performance, the public may visit the Town Hall Box Office at 123 West 43rd Street, from 12 noon – 6 pm. Tickets will be distributed daily on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Thursday, June 14, up until the date and time of performance, as available.

For information about travel to Turkey, call 1-877-FOR-TURKEY or contact the Turkish Culture and Tourism Offices in New York at 212-687-2194 or in Washington D.C. at 202-612-6800, and visit www.tourismturkey.org or www.kulturturizm.gov.tr.

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