Monday, November 3, 2008

The Mermaid

I spent my high school years at a small, inspiring and supportive school in Boston called the Commonwealth School. Commonwealth was founded by Charles Merrill in 1958. In celebration of the school's 50th anniversary a gala event was planned. In April of 2008 I was commissioned to compose a choral piece to mark the occasion.

Together with Janetta Stringfellow, the director of development for the school, we decided to ask my friend, poet and journalist Ethan Forman (class of '84) to collaborate with me. My first impulse and thought for the piece was to compose something very joyful and celebratory, like a fanfare.

I had not composed a piece for chorus since my senior year of high school. I was both excited and a little scared that I might not be able to pull it off. To make the process even more difficult, I wanted to compose a joyous and celebratory piece as I said, but Ethan kept writing poetry that was far more reflectively joyful than exuberantly celebratory. I also spent a lot of energy worrying about the complexity of the music, the intellectual rigor of it. The bottom line is, I kept getting in my own way. For me, this is consistently the biggest hurdle in the creative process.

I finally gave in to the reflective nature of Ethan's poetry in August, one month before the finished piece was to be delivered to David Hodgkins, Commonwealth's music director, so rehearsals could begin.
Once I let go, I was able to complete the piece quickly. I composed what I thought was a beautiful melody for the soloists to share and supported it with a flowing, tidal accompaniment sung by the chorus. The whole thing worked out pretty well I think. I was actually relieved that the accompaniment did indeed serve as a good support for the melody. It might have obscured the melody since it is a bit busy.

The finished composition was premiered Saturday October 25, 2008 in the Cyclorama at the
Boston Center for the Arts in front of a crowd of 750 alumni, parents, friends, faculty and staff of Commonwealth School. What an amazing feeling it was to hear all those voices singing the music I had struggled to create. It was such a beautiful and moving event and I am honored to have played a part in it.

Thank you Charles Merrill for your creation.
Thank you Janetta Stringfellow for asking.
Thank you Ethan Forman for your poetry.

Thank you to all of the Commonwealth School family who make it such an inspiring place to grow.

Happy Birthday!

Commonwealth School Gala, pt. 2-The Mermaid from Commonwealth School on Vimeo.

And here is the text:

Remember the mermaid who swam in from overseas
Born from a city's resistance

She taught you how to wag that tail of yours
And wave a sword of victory
She beat her sword into ploughshares
And hung her long locks on hooks
Despite her tail she dragged her books upstairs
No Pyrrhic victories here

She was just a girl who learned to walk by taking the subway
Back and forth to school
Learning for her was like the tides
Something she'd come back to again and again...

Remember the mermaid who swam in from overseas
Born from a city's resistance

Now each fall a new crop of mermaids come
Eager for sword and ploughshare lessons
Searching for meaning in struggle
Preparing for a life of action
Mermaid don't dwell too long
On all those crushes and first kisses
Don't wait too long
To celebrate and sing about your memories

She was just a girl who learned to walk by taking the subway
Back and forth to school
Learning for her was like the tides
Something she'd come back to again and again and again...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Music for Pictures that don't exist

Last week I produced a little piece of music for a new TV series.
Alas, I did not get the job, but I am very pleased with my creation and would like to share.
Please visit my listen page to listen. The piece is called... Sex Therapy!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Meditative Movement Mandala Music and Dance Premiere in New York City

My latest piece of music, a composition for the modern dance company Murray Spalding Movement Arts premiered at St. Mark's Church in NYC last Thursday.

The theater was full and very, very hot. It was like a sauna. Despite the heat, the dancers did an amazing job. I am glad that I could stand in the back and watch as I certainly would have passed out from the heat if I had been dancing for 60 minutes without a break.

Bravo dancers! And thank you!

Each time I see these pieces in performance I am reminded just how energizing and calming they are to watch and listen to. I am quite proud of this work. Please listen to part of the newest mandala on my website.

Over the three days that the show was running the seats were all filled and many expressed interest in the music and a few even put there money down and purchased a copy of my CD Movement Mandala Music which contains music to the first 8 of the meditative Movement Mandala dances.

Here are a few photos from my journey.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Movement Mandalas: minimalist modern dance and music performance in New York City

Here is information about an upcoming performance of my meditational music for modern dance. If you are in NYC, please join me for this historic performance of Murray Spalding's revolutionary minimalist choreography in:

Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, NYC
Thursday June 12 through Saturday June 14
8:30 p.m.
Reservations: 212.674.8194 or

of the 2005 Season, Jennifer Dunning of the New York Times said:

"...The variations build so slowly and the patterns sprawl, shift and spread so smoothly that the changes are never startling. The eye is drawn in and mesmerized.
How the women managed to keep to their paths and timing was unfathomable, but no effort was evident in their radiant performing. "

for more information about the company and the work please go to:

Shinyun Chou, Lauren Engleman, Ula Gadea, Naomi Luppescu, Kely Narcum, Leslie Roybal and Guest Artist Jeramy Zimmerman

Choreography: Murray Spalding
Assistant Director: Amy Filbin
Managing Director: Leslie Roybal
Composer: Evren Celimli
Costume Design: Susan Soetaert
Light Design: Kathy Kaufman

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Indianapolis Grand Jury Prize

The documentary film Beyond Belief brings another award home. This time it's the Grand Jury Prize from the Indianapolis International Film Festival. The excitement continues... and here's the trailer from youtube:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good News from Sonoma Valley Film Festival

The documentary film Beyond Belief features my original soundtrack music. It received awards at a few festivals. Most recently it received the Best Documentary award at the Sonoma Valley Film Festival.

Although I was not able to make it out to California for the ceremony the director of the film, Beth Murphy, was there and posted about it on the Principle Pictures blog.

I am so excited that this wonderful film continues to do well on the festival circuit.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Screening at the United Nations

The film Beyond Belief is screening at the United Nations in New York on Monday, March 24 2008. To think that this humble yet uplifting film will be seen by the leaders of foreign lands is very exciting to me. Perhaps the next step will be for screenings to take place in a large scale in other countries.

I believe Beyond Belief is a film that can help begin to rebuild the standing of the U.S. throughout the rest of the world. Beyond Belief displays courage, generosity and a global perspective embraced by two regular citizens who reach out to help others.

The U.S. needs this kind of positive image to help redeem us in the eyes of the world.

Please support this film. Rent it from Netflix. Find it at a film festival near you. Blog about it.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Music at the Rhode Island Film Festival 2008

Today I received exciting news from director Michele Meek.

Her short film Red Sneakers, which I composed the music for, will be screened at the Rhode Island Film Festival this summer.

Here's a little taste of the MUSIC from the score if you're interested.

I composed this piece back in December of 2007. I imagined children skipping and playing on a gentle spring day to inspire the flow and melody of the music.

I am looking forward to Spring here in New England.

Thanks for listening!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Netflix and Film Soundtracks

Tomorrow Netflix will release the documentary film Beyond Belief.
Put it in your queue!

And then head over to and purchase the soundtrack album on CD or download it.

Did you know that the downloads from CDBaby are DRM free?

Support independent music by making your purchases from CDBaby.

EVREN CELIMLI: Beyond Belief

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Club d'Elf, Medeski and 10 years at the Lizard Lounge

Tonight is going to be exciting. I am excited anyway...

Mike Rivard's wonderful band Club d'Elf is celebrating a 10 year residency at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA. Tonight they are joined by John Medeski one of the warmest and most exciting keyboard players you will ever hear. The Lizard Lounge is an amazing location to listen to both Club d'Elf and Medeski as it is a very intimate venue. There aren't many clubs where you can stand right next to a musician like Medeski while he is playing. if you dared to, you could reach out and give him a pat on the back in appreciation. He does get pretty sweaty though, so I suggest a little self control.

I had the opportunity to mix the title track of Club d'Elf's recent studio release "Now I Understand" please check it out on the Club d'Elf merch page.

Now_i_understand Thanks for listening!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Beyond Belief Theatrical Release in NYC

It was an undeniable thrill to see "Beyond Belief" up on the marquee on February 29, 2008 in NYC.
I am infinitely grateful to have played a part in the making of this film.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Beyond Belief in the Boston Globe

On February 10, 2008 Beyond Belief was profiled in the Boston Sunday Globe.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Theartical premiere of Beyond Belief

The official theatrical premiere of Beyond Belief is just around the corner! There is a special advance screening Saturday, February 16, 7pm at the Museum of Fine Arts. The screening will be followed by Q&A with director Beth Murphy and a reception with special guests. On February 29, the film opens in New York at Cinema Village (tickets on sale Feb. 20), and regular screenings begin at MFA Boston on March 1.