Emrah Kotan is the percussion artist affiliate in the Music Department. At Agnes Scott he leads the World Percussion Ensemble and the Jazz Ensemble, while also teaching individual drum lessons. The following was recorded during an interview between Emrah Kotan, Lauren Welch, and Tatyana Adams.
I’m not sure why I am drawn to music; it’s just something that is in a person. For me there is no one reason why I am in music, it’s just always been a part of me. When I was eight years old I started playing the mandolin. I took private lessons when I was in elementary school and for some reason, I loved to practice and would practice really hard – between my homework, whenever I would get a break – I would take up my mandolin and begin playing. If there was music on the radio, on the television, I would start playing; I guess to develop my ear. I began to get so good that my teacher actually started using me as an assistant. In a couple of years I was playing concert duos (two mandolins) with my teacher while I was still in elementary school.
I was born in one of the coldest areas in the Eastern part of Turkey. I don’t even remember what it was like where I was born because my family migrated to the third largest city in the Western part of Turkey when I was only five years old. I received my Bachelor’s degree at AnKara State Conservatory in Turkey in percussion and orchestral performance. When I moved to the United States I got into the Master’s program at Georgia State University for jazz studies and percussion. I graduated with my Master’s in 2003.
Since then I have been a freelancing drummer percussionist. I’m also in the process of working on my solo CD project right now, which is exciting. I play with a lot of different jazz singers, plus different world music styles like Brazilian, Cuban, and other different drumming techniques. I’m part of a wonderful percussion trio and we do a young audiences program where we play for little kids and teach them about percussion, geography, and music through drumming – I really like to do that. Other than Agnes Scott I teach privately at Ken Stanton and in the Woodstock location on Saturdays. I also pretty much gig all over with performances, concerts, events, etc. Occasionally I am called for tour, but I can’t go at this moment because of commitments to schools.
Other than music I’m crazy about soccer. Besides my family, kids, and wife, soccer is my number one interest. I follow as much of it as I can, especially one of Istanbul’s teams as well as the Spanish, Italian, and English premier league. I used to like motorcycles, but I phased out of the choppers and all of that. Music and sports are my two main passions.
Emrah Kotan can be seen at Georgia State University on Saturday, February 26 at 7:30 PM during Baghdad in Exile: A Celebration of Iraq’s Music and Culture. He will be performing with twice Grammy-nominated oud master Rahim AlHaj along with other GSU strings and percussion. He will also be performing at the Fernbank Musuem of Natural History on April 22 – more details to come later. Meanwhile he can be seen at the following locations during the week:
Every Thursday and every other Friday: Anis Café Bistro (Buckhead) – 7:30-10:30 PM
Saturdays: Ray’s on the River Restaurant (Powers Ferry Road) – 8:00-11:30 PM
Sundays: Copeland’s (Cumberland, Kennesaw, Buckhead locations) – 11:00AM-3:00PM*
*Location varies between all three every Sunday. This Sunday he can be seen at the Cumberland location.