Dream Theater Recruits Berklee Student for Album

By
Nick Balkin
September 11, 2013
Eren Basbug

Dream Theater, the Grammy-nominated progressive metal band that formed in 1985 at Berklee College of Music, is collaborating with 21-year-old Berklee student Eren Basbug on its new, self-titled album—the group's 12th—out September 24. Basbug, a gifted young pianist, composer, and conductor from Ankara, Turkey, wrote and recorded arrangements for the band's new studio album as well as its upcoming live album/video Live at Luna Park, out November 5. 

The collaboration came about after Basbug founded his own orchestra with friends from various conservatories in Turkey to perform his arrangement of Dream Theater's 42-minute opus "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence." The YouTube video of the concert received more than 100,000 views. "I was trying to pay tribute to music that I love, but hoping, in some way, it might get the band's attention," says Basbug. 

It did. In 2011, Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess saw the video and was so impressed that he invited Basbug to work with him on his new composition, Explorations for Keyboard and Orchestra. Basbug wrote parts for more than 70 musicians, and conducted the Chacao Youth Symphony Orchestra at the song's world premiere in Caracas, Venezuela. Later that year, Basbug debuted a new orchestral arrangement for Dream Theater's 24-minute song "Octavarium." The YouTube video of the performance is closing in on 500,000 views. 

Basbug received a full scholarship to Berklee in 2011, where he is pursuing a dual major in electronic production and design and film scoring. Last year, he received the Arif Mardin Scholarship, awarded to Berklee students with outstanding composition and arranging skills. 

For Basbug, the experience of coming to the U.S. and working and performing side-by-side with his idols "is almost too much to take in."

Dream Theater was born in 1985 when guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, and drummer Mike Portnoy decided to form a band while attending Berklee. The band has sold more than 12 million records worldwide, and in 2011, its single "On The Backs of Angels" was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance category. Dream Theater is well known for the technical proficiency of its instrumentalists, who have won many awards from music instruction magazines such as GuitarOne and Modern Drummer. Former Berklee faculty member Mike Mangini is the band's current drummer.