Pro Series performer combines Turkish and Western classical music

A woman looks down and to her left. Behind her are two kanun instruments
Didem Başar will perform a Pro Series concert on Friday, March 24 at the Lorne Watson Recital Hall. (Photo by Youssef Shoufan)

The western Manitoba audience will have a rare opportunity to hear a master of the kanun, a Turkish stringed instrument, when Didem Başar visits for a pro series performance on Friday evening at 7:30.

The concert is a collaboration with the Continuum Series through Virtuosi Concerts of Winnipeg. It will feature Montreal-based musicians Başar and Patrick Graham, percussion, sharing the stage of the Lorne Watson Recital Hall with string players from Manitoba. Joining Başar and Graham will be Winnipeg performers Momoka Matsumura, violin; and Jennifer Thiessen, viola; along with Brandon University (BU) School of Music faculty members Kerry DuWors, violin; Leanne Zacharias, cello; and Marika Galea, double bass.

“One of the wonderful things about the pro series is that every concert brings the possibility of experiencing something you have never heard before,” said Greg Gatien, Dean of Music at BU. “This performance will be prime example of that as our wonderful and talented School of Music faculty welcome some incredible guests for a memorable evening of music.”

Başar began her music education at the Istanbul Turkish Music State Conservatory at the age of 11 and earned Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Turkey before moving to Canada in 2007. She currently teaches kanun and Turkish music at the Centre des Musiciens du Monde in Montreal.

The kanun has a trapezoid shape that allows for different lengths of strings on the instrument. Virtuosi Concerts describes the kanun as elegant in timbre and capable of flourishing melodies, writing that the audience will hear a set of works for kanun, percussion and strings, composed by Başar, that are “the product of a 30-year musical journey synthesizing her Turkish music background and her Western classical music education.”

Graham is a multi-percussionist, who has combined elements of Japanese, Indian, Irish and Mediterranean rhythms into his work. His 2009 CD Rheō was named one of the top 13 albums of the year by the CBC Radio program “The Signal.”

Originally from Osaka Japan, Matsumura performs regularly with the Winnipeg Symphony and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. She has been a member of the Hartford and New Haven Symphony Orchestras and the Plymouth Philharmonic. Thiessen is the Artistic Director of  Virtuosi Concerts and worked as an independent musician in Montreal for two decades before returning to Manitoba.

DuWors is an acclaimed soloist, chamber musician and Associate Professor at BU, who has won awards including the Grand Price at the 26th Echardt-Gramatté Competition. Best known as a jazz bassist, Galea is an Assistant Professor at BU, who was named one of CBC Music’s best 35 Canadian jazz artists under 35 in 2017. Zacharias is an Associate Professor in the School of Music who performs widely as a soloist and explores new musical territory, literally, with past concerts and installations in varied locales, including art galleries, chimneys, stairwells, rowboats and other unorthodox sites.

“This is truly a dynamic and eclectic collection of musicians, all with the common trait of being superb at what they do,” Gatien said. “I can’t wait to see and hear what they have in store for us on Friday night.”

Tickets will be available at the door. General admission is $20, while there is no charge for School of Music or Conservatory students.

The School of Music gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Manitoba Arts Council.

Please note that seating in the Lorne Watson Recital Hall is limited and that programs are subject to change. For an up-to-date listing of pro series and student performances, please visit

Please contact the School of Music at with any accessibility considerations.


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