17th International North Cyprus Music Festival, organised by the Northern Cyprus Music Association
by Marion E.Stuart
From soaring soprano voices, terrific Turksoy Opera nights, flawless flying fingers of pianists, overwhelming orchestral synchronisms, beautifully blended bass voices, melodic moments with Morricone, a cornucopia of enchanting cello, violin, flutes, pianos, violas sound to the Presidential Orchestra, Bellapais Abbey gave the people of Northern Cyprus momentous moments of music at its best , starting with the Turksoy Opera night on the 25th September, through the varied concerts of the 17th International Music Festival.
Not only were the emotional sounds of some of the world’s greatest music a thrill to the audiences, but the cost of attending was no killer. From free to 50tl!
Northern Cyprus is starting to show the world that it can give of its own as being among the best, together with sharing talent from other countries.
The Turksoy night had fewer countries represented than in the past, but as well as the singers, there were three pianists Amina Taykenova, Yulia Babich and Hande Uchar representing Kazakistani, Kirgizstan and Turkey, supporting singers Aigul Niyazova, Nurjan Bajekenov, Telek Naimanbaev, Faikl Mansuroglu, Artur Kaipkulov, Erek Kizilors Ekaterina Koryakina , Damyrak Mongush Nazyn, Emine Dzhevdetova Gjoprgi Cockovski with Sevra Yiklazturn and Can Gazi (of BRT) introducing the programme and the VIP’s who shared the background of the opera days and gave thanks for all it represents.
A magnificent well-chosen programme including well known and lesser-known arias, plus folk music from the Turksoy region was executed with the highest of professional standards (sadly no interval due to the length of the programme). Only one thing was lacking – and that was the ‘glory’ days of years back when the event was held in Kyrenia Castle with a full orchestra which always adds that extra rich dimension to music written by the greats such as Verdi, Bizet, Gounoud and Puccini. As compensation, the acoustics of the abbey enhance the voices which echo around the ancient walls of this place of beauty and peace. (Bellapais).
Then followed the several concerts of the 17th International North Cyprus Music Festival, organised by the Northern Cyprus Music Association, organised by Halil Kilgay and his team, and sponsored by various local companies including Telsim, Rocks Hotel, Deniz Plaza, Bellapais Gardens, Major, Kybele Restaurant and Kosezade, the first night of which was a ‘freebie’ courtesy of the Presidency, and which was a programme of five fine musicians of Elise Kuder on violin, Miray Cokir – Violin, Mike Kelley – viola, Sinem Sadrazam – Viola and Puren Eda Gozer – Cello who gave us a varied programme of chamber music.
The second night was a magnificent display of piano playing by the well known and much loved Gulsin Onay, accompanied by the Presidential Symphony Orchestra, in the presence of President Akinci. The leader of the orchestra was Nihat Acdac who plays in other orchestras and conducted by Ali Hoca. A truly memorable performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto no.2 and a work written by Ali Hoca “Kibris Kapricyosu”.
On the 15th of the month we were treated to an interesting evening of chamber music and arias, rendered by Natania Hoffman on cello, who has performed in China, Cincinnati, Indian, New Zealand and is becoming a rising star amongst cellists; Cagil Cansu Sanlidag played the Piano, whose studies started in Izmir at the age of seven, and who then graduated as a soloist in Brussels. She has played in concerts across Europe as well as Turkey and Uruguay both as soloist and chamber musician, and currently teaching at Near East University; and Soprano Vassia Alati (who was born in the Netherlands by a Greek father and Dutch mother) studying singing at Athens subsequently winning the Maria Callas Scholarship. She has sung many roles already in Don Giovanni, Magic Flute, King Arthur, Dido and Aeneas, and more.
Morricone’s film music masterpieces played by the Lefkosa Belediye Orchestra under the conductor Oskay Hoca provided a beautiful evening of classics for those not quite into the classical music.
The faithful audiences of Bellapais had a week to recover before being enthralled by I Tre Bassi – Turkey’s answer to the three tenors – and what an evening. The voices of Zafer Erdas, Tuncay Kurtoglu and Teyfik Rodos, accompanied on the piano by Tulio Gagliardo, were all good, if not quite equally matched, with entertaining pieces such as ‘I am a Don Quixote and trio from Don Giovanni where the men, in turn, tried the soprano role – showing great falsetto talent for such naturally deep voice’s but the best, and last of the three was the best, as Tuncay released his flowing grey locks from their ponytail, and seductively hid his face as the shy heroine of the opera. Showmen all, and it is hoped they will come back soon.
More serious piano playing was presented on the 26th of the month as Godkhan Aybulus of fantastic flying fingers thrilled with Beethoven and Rachmaninoff together with a far lesser-known piece by Bach arranged Busoni. All pieces were performed faultlessly with panache and passion.
Back came the singers on the 28th and what a dazzling night of music with a recital given by Beren Kader Fidan, soprano and Emre Akkus, Tenor, accompanied by Esra Poyrazoglyu Alpan on piano who had some challenging scores to accompany the singers, who were vocally well matched.
Arias by Donizetti, Handel, Puccino and Gounod – all well-known classics, were balanced by Loewe’s, My Fair Lady, and Ali Hoca’s Magusa Limani, ending with that show-stopping Brindisi from Traviata by Verdi. ‘Let’s drink………(Libiamo)’ – a piece incidentally which got several airings over the month, as did O Mio Babbino Caro from Madame Butterly by Puccini – an aria which every able vocalised soprano has in her repertoire.
What was different on this particular evening, was when Beren walked on stage, for instead of a beautiful brunette of classical type(as shown on the P.R. material), we were visually charmed by a green-haired, mini-skirted charismatic coloratura. If anyone is assured of a future in the coloratura operatic field, it has to be Beren. Watch her!
The final two concerts of the Festival feature North Cyprus very own Arman Rapid in a recital. He is well known for his avant-garde pieces which have been performed in St.James London as well as other concert venues.
As I write the closing concert takes place on the 1st of November. If you haven’t got it in your diary, put it in now – The Presidential Symphony Orchestra will give an evening of Baroque music with soloists Emre Tamer and Ebru Tamer, violinists, Once again the leader of the orchestra is Nihat Acdac ( a brilliant violinist/soloist who recently played the Bruch violin concerto at the Near East University hall.
An amazing month of music – Northern Cyprus is moving on into greater things. The advent of the Presidential Symphony Orchestra, one hopes is but the forerunner to Northern Cyprus having its own opera and ballet companies!
Photo credits: Halil Kilgay and Mehmet Gokyigit.