This is uniquely possible when Dunya plays with specialists in Western early music, because Western music of this period was closer in style to Eastern music.
“It was closer than today,” said Mehmet Sanlikol, one of the co-founders of Dunya, who plays an oud, which is similar to the European lute. “When you go so far back in history, to the 16th and 17th century, European and Turkish music wasn’t as different, in explorations of scales and notes, and execution, as well.
“It was different enough that Western travelers had trouble understanding and relating, but the differences are now much more highlighted.”
Developing connections to Western early music is consistent with Dunya’s mission as a collective. They also partner with musicians working in several other musical traditions — Jewish, Armenian and Greek — that have been connected with Ottoman culture.
Sanlikol, who grew up in Turkey and teaches the history of Western music at Holy Cross, came to Berklee to study jazz, and his mother was a pianist trained in Western classical music.
He feels Istanbul today is still a very cosmopolitan city, “the New York of the Near and Middle East,” but that at its height the Ottoman empire was like America today.
“It’s like that to me,” Sanlikol said. “What a wonderful parallel. People should know that there’s so much to learn from that history, and music is one way to do that.”
If you go What: "Crossroads: East Meets West, Dunya evokes Istanbul in the 16th to 18th Centuries," sponsored by Cambridge Society for Early Music. When and where: Saturday, Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m., at Salem Athenaeum, 337 Essex St., Salem, and Sunday, Jan. 27 4 p.m., Ascension Memorial Church, 31 County St., Ipswich. More information: Tickets at the door (cash or check): $30; seniors $25; children under 18 and students with ID, free. Tickets by credit card, for an added fee of $3, at www.csem.org. Visit www.csem.org or call 617-489-2062.