I’m back in Toronto after a whirlwind trip to Dubai, Turkey and Greece.
While in Istanbul I was thrilled to play three sold out concerts in the arty and eclectic Kadikoy neighborhood. Its arts and culture centres are havens for artists, musicians and writers. You can imagine how at home I felt!
The neighbourhood’s leafy tree-lined streets are alive with a strong café culture and chock-a-block with galleries, bars, restaurants, independent cinemas, boutiques, parks and markets. The influential global magazine Time Out, bills it as one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world.
It’s located on the Marmara Sea coast on the Asian side of Istanbul. I learned that this city of 15 million is famous for being the only major city in the world situated on two continents – half of Istanbul is in Europe, while the other lies in Asia, split in half by the Bosphorus strait. My hotel was on the European side so you could say I had to cross continents for my concerts!
Istanbul is home to many civilizations throughout the ages and offers a wealth of cultural activities. I felt honoured to find myself at this heart of this vibrant culture. It all started with meeting Esin Esen Ozkan on Instagram, an amazing piano teacher who helped me organize my three concerts.
Esin Esen Ozkan: “We feel the soul he is feeling. He gave us a unique and magical recital.”
My first concert took place Aug 27th in the garden of the historic Kadikoy Youth Art Center, restored by the Istanbul municipality and converted to a youth art center. I was welcomed by the center’s art director, Yucel Canyaran.
Surrounded by gently flickering candles and soft flower petals, I played compositions from my album Elsewhere as well as some new compositions from my upcoming album for an intensely attentive audience of 100 people, – most of whom had discovered me on social media. What a pleasure to meet them in person! Even Istanbul’s famous cats wandered by to listen adding to the charm of the event. In fact, they’ve inspired me to compose a piece just about them!
On September 6th, I played a sold out concert, also organized by Esin Esen Ozkan at the Piano House Moda, in a charming rustic house rich in character with an antique staircase, doors and chandeliers creating a warm, intimate atmosphere. The Piano House is a musical oasis owned by Mehmet Erhan Tanman, a composer, piano teacher, and pianist educated at the Mimar Sinan Conservatory of Music. It caters to audiences comprised of music lovers and other musicians who often stay to discuss music after the concerts.
Katerina Kazina “I felt the music was going through my body and through my veins reaching my heart, my mind and my soul. He invites us to travel to the times and places he has been. It attaches to the soul of each of us.”
The piano is Young Chang baby grand known for the quality of its sound enhanced by the venue’s wonderful acoustics. To add a mystical touch, I burned Palo Santo wood.
The concert was such a success that I was invited to play another the following day which also sold out. Many people who attended my first concert at the Kadikoy Youth Art Centre returned for the following set of concerts, immersing themselves in the music, listening intensely, many with closed eyes. I am immensely touched by their response.
Gamze Saguroglu “We were very impressed. It has a lot of emotion. His music has its own sound and its own soul and it touched me very deeply. I recommend that everyone listens to his music . . . because there is love in the music.”
Istanbul spoke to me. The warmth and passion of its people connected with me. I know I will return soon.
Videography by: Elif Ebru Sakar