Yeni Nostalji is a band based in Richmond, Virginia, USA. The group writes original music sung in Turkish by bandleader and founder Christina Marie. They are currently signed to Ropeadope Records, and released their debut album in May of 2018 which features members of the Richmond Symphony, Bio Ritmo, and NO BS! Brass. Yeni Nostalji has shared the stage with acts such as Mdou Moctar, Banda Magda, Yonatan Gat, B.C.U.C., and Miramar. The performing band features Christina Marie (composition, lyrics, vocals), Gary Kalar (guitar, arrangements) and Turkish rhythm section Ayça Kartari (bass) and Emre Kartari (drums). The band takes cues from a wide-range of vintage and contemporary influences, including the soundscape of Turkish, European, and American pop radio from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.
Past Collaborators: Vlad Cuiujuclu (guitar, composition), Marlysse Simmons (keys, arrangements), Rei Alvarez (percussion), Evrim Doğu (guitar, composition)
Christina Marie, an American of Lebanese and European descent, was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She started writing songs while in art school when she was given an old guitar and began putting her poetry to music. She says that the Turkish language showed up in her life without warning and took her down an unexpected path. At the age of 25, she decided to board a plane by herself to Turkey with little agenda. She then began visiting the country regularly, spending significant time in a remote family village bordering the Black Sea, as well as major cities such as Istanbul and Ankara. She describes her time in Turkey as “life–altering, real, and human” which moved her to begin studying Turkish and applying it to music.
Christina’s expansive musical taste keeps the group on their toes, collaborating and constantly moving towards a golden sound. Despite having no educational background in music, she is confident leading a band of highly-trained musicians. Her instinctual songwriting process paired with a desire for the songs to embody a meaningful expression, allows the group to present an authentic work of art that is achievable only by marrying emotion and intuition with deliberate craftsmanship and an A+ roster of talented collaborators.
Gary Kalar has been playing the guitar for over 30 years. He's spent many hours on the stage and in the studio, and has performed, written, arranged and recorded a broad variety of styles on a number of instruments with diverse musicians from all over the world, including over 10 years as a member of Mucca Pazza and Lamajamal. He's performed on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, at Orchestra Hall in the Chicago Symphony Center, the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and in cities all over the US. Outside of working with strictly musical groups, Gary Kalar has also accompanied many contemporary dance and theatrical performances, working with Mary Zimmerman, Shirley Mordine, Peter Carpenter, Mark Messing and many others.
Gary is equally at home with noisy rock improv, contemporary chamber music, Middle Eastern and Balkan music traditions, Motown, Nashville, mid-century Latin ballads, avant garde electronic soundscapes or art punk marching band. Some of the more exotic instruments he uses to do all this are the cümbüş, the Ottoman tanbur, and the Bulgarian tamboura, as well as a variety of related strings like oud, mandolin, bouzouki, and saz, percussion and electronics.
Ayça Kartari was born in Bilecik, Turkey. She started playing double bass when she was 11 years old. In 2005, she received a full scholarship from International Yehudi Menuhin Music Academy and Lozan Conservatory in Switzerland for her graduate studies and studied with Michel Veillon. She toured Spain, Holland, France, Portugal with Camerata Lysy Chamber Orchestra with Alberto Lysy and Camerata Lausanne Chamber Orchestra with Pierre Amoyal. She was invited as a principal bassist to Animato Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Howard Griffiths in 2010 and 2011 and performed in Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia. She performed with Young Musician Chamber Orchestra in Bayreuth, Germany in August 2013, at the Young Musicians Festival under the direction of Prof. Iagoba Fanlo.
In 2011, she joined Izmir State Opera and Ballet, and Camerata Izmir Chamber Orchestra as a double bassist and organized chamber music concert series for the State Opera and Ballet. During this time, she became as an adjunct double bass faculty at Yaşar University (Izmir) and performed with the Yaşar Chamber Orchestra. She has also joined Borusan Philharmonic in 2012 and performed for Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall/London conducted by Sascha Goetzel in 2015. She was a member of the double bass quartet BigBoomBass in Izmir from 2015-2017.
Emre Kartari was born into a family of musicians and artists in Ankara, Turkey, and moved to the United States when he was nine years old. After studying jazz percussion at Virginia Commonwealth University and New York University, he went on to direct the jazz studies programs at Hacettepe University (Ankara) and Yaşar University (Izmir). In 2009, he formed Turkey's first college credited, state supported jazz program at the Ankara State Conservatory. He received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from Yaşar University in 2018 and is proud to be an artist endorsed by Istanbul Cymbals. Emre is an Adjunct Instructor of Jazz at VCU and Longwood University where he teaches Small Jazz Ensemble and Jazz History.
Emre has toured the United States with the spoken-word, hip-hop group, Jazz Poets Society and has studied with Adam Nussbaum, John Riley, Tony Moreno, Billy Hart and Jamey Haddad while in New York. He has performed with Darius Jones, Trevor Dunn, Paul Pieper, John D'earth, Jim McNeely, Ron McClure, Mike Richmond and David Liebman. His first CD as a leader, Perpetual Anxiety, is released in Turkey under the Doğan Music label.