Armağan Durdağ was born in 1981 in Istanbul. Throughout his secondary and high school years, he studied piano and music culture with Mert Bilginer. After graduating from Eyüboğlu High School, he studied classical, jazz and modern harmony, formal analysis, orchestration, and Turkish Music theory with Nail Yavuzoğlu. Pursuing his piano studies with Faris Akarsu at Department of Music Technologies of State Conservatory of Turkish Music of Istanbul Technical University, he entered the institution in 2004, majoring in Sound Recordings, and finished as top-performing student in this department. He went to Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2008, where he studied piano and composition with Jeffery Watson, and orchestra conducting with A.Scott Wood, at the Washington Conservatory of Music. While living there in April of 2009, he arranged string orchestrations for Faces & Places, a jazz album by Fahir Atakoğlu nominated as a Grammy-candidate.
Durdağ finished his master’s degree with the support of a scholarship in the Department of Composition at the University of Memphis between 2009 and 2011. After graduating, he studied composition with Kamran İnce and orchestral conducting with Kraig Alan Williams, as well as piano with Sam Viviano, at his alma mater. In addition, he attended masterclasses given by such prominent American composers as Joseph Schwantner, Marc Mellits, Fred Lerdahl, Sophia Serghi, Christopher Trapani, and Chris Brubeck.
Durdağ′s music embraces a blend which integrates a post-minimalist approach with melodic colors of Turkish and Middle Eastern music; and which makes use of atonal world of sound as well, while reflecting modal and post-romantic tonal structures in traditional instruments of the West, as well as in Turkish music instruments; and which, additionally, uses intensive polyrhythmical textures with an eye to creating meditation effects.
Durdağ′s works were performed in various cities of Turkey, USA and Armenia to date. Among his compositions are “Kırmızı Yelken” (The Red Sail) for string orchestra (2007), “Saf Zihnin Göl Kenarındaki Düşler” (Dreams By the Lake of the Pure Mind) (2010) for Pierrot Ensemble, “Kırılmalar” (Refractions) for string trio, piano and clarinet (2010), “Katibim Çeşitlemeleri” (Variations on Katibim) (2008) for violoncello and piano, which is one of his compositions most performed both nationally and internationally, and which he tributed to violoncellist Rahşan Apay. The composer made a world-premiere in Memphis in May, 2011 under his own conducting of “Bridges of Light.” The piece was a double-concerto for two alto-saxophones and percussion orchestra, commissioned by Allen Rippe, an American saxophone virtuose of Israeli origin, for a performance at World Saxophone Convention to be held in ancient city of ST. Andrews, in Scotland, in 2012. “Bridges of Light” was dedicated to people of two nations who are still losing their beloved ones in the amidst of the Palestinian-Israeli war. This concerto has now been included in program for a play that will be performed in Arizona, Scotland, Israel and Istanbul in the upcoming years. Other than these, one of the last pieces of the composer is called “Panthalassa-3 Mart 1975” written for the symphony orchestra, two zurna and two Ramadan drums, which is commissioned by the director Prof. Cihat Aşkın and his board of directors of the ITU-Turkish Music State Conservatory for the celebration of the 37th anniversary of the conservatory.
Today, the composer has started to concentrate on his own ensemble, Armağan Durdağ Ensemble, which combines Turkish ethnic instruments with western classical instruments, sometimes including electronic music as well. Durdağ will be touring around the world soon with his project called “New Music for a New World”. The premiere of this project was held on the 28th of November, 2012 in CRR Concert Hall in Istanbul, under the baton of Burak Tüzün and with the composer himself at the piano.