Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol / Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol & Whatsnext?

Jazz Road Creative Residencies Grant Recipient

Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol / Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol & Whatsnext?

Recipient Information


Belmont, Massachusetts

Year of Award


Grant or Fellowship

Jazz Road Creative Residencies Grant

Grant Amount


About the Project

Sanlıkol and 19-pc Whatsnext? will write and record new compositions for jazz orchestra with guests, saxophonist Miguel Zenon, clarinetist Anat Cohen, and percussionist Antonio Sanchez.  Music will fuse Western jazz and Middle Eastern (Turkish modes, microtones, rhythms) and draw on Muslim and Sufi literary and spirtual sources.

Residency Location

Roslindale, MA

About the Artist

Grammy nominated composer and CMES Harvard University fellow (2013-15) Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol hails from Cyprus and Turkey and is a Jazz pianist, multi-instrumentalist, singer, and scholar as well as a full-time faculty member at New England Conservatory. Sanlıkol was the recipient of numerous respected awards including The Aaron Copland Fund for Music Grant twice in 2016 and 2020 as well as the New Music USA Project Grant in 2020 and has been praised by critics all over the world for his unique, pluralist, multicultural and energetic musical voice. The Boston Globe noted that Sanlıkol's “music is colorful, fanciful, full of rhythmic life, and full of feeling. The multiculturalism is not touristy, but rather sophisticated, informed, internalized; Sanlıkol is a citizen of the world”, “…and he (Sanlıkol) is another who could play decisive role in music’s future in the world.”

A musical polymath, Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol has composed for, performed and toured with international stars and ensembles such as Dave Liebman, Bob Brookmeyer, Billy Cobham, Esperanza Spalding, Gil Goldstein, Antonio Sanchez, Anat Cohen, Tiger Okoshi, The Boston Camerata, The Boston Cello Quartet, A Far Cry string orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Okay Temiz, Erkan Oğur and Birol Yayla. Sanlıkol's unique blend of jazz composition and Turkish music has been praised by the Boston Globe as “a true fusion of jazz and folkloric Turkish language and colors.” Over the years he has received rave reviews from The Financial Times, All About Jazz, Songlines, and he was DownBeat Magazine’s September 2016 Editor’s pick as well as JAZZIZ’s Top 10 Critics’ Choice 2014 pick.

He made his Carnegie Hall debut in April 2016 premiering his commissioned piece ""Harabat/The Intoxicated"" with the American Composers Orchestra. Other recent classical works have been heard at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall and on A Far Cry string orchestra’s recording ""Dreams and Prayers"". On the other hand, his 'coffeehouse opera', entitled ""Othello in the Seraglio: The Tragedy of Sümbül The Black Eunuch"", which has been the recipient of the Paul R. Judy Center grant at Eastman School of Music in 2015. This unique opera has been performed 20 times since its premiere in 2015 on European period instruments and traditional Turkish instruments by an ensemble of specialists in those fields.