The Sound of Istanbul is the Sound of #Love

Turkey, especially my hometown Istanbul has been the target of so many terrorist attacks for the last couple of years. In this age of instant information, the news goes around quickly, along with comments, and we pray and we share and pray and share…
Turkey is the bridge between two continents. Anatolia and Istanbul have always been the intersection of cultures and just like Turkish cuisine, Turkish music melts the elements of these cultures into a great mix. This time, composers Emir Gamsızoğlu and Erkin Arslan “cooked” Rhapsody on Istanbul Tunes in Western classical music style. The piece is based on three very famous Istanbul tunes and a Bach style basso continuo. Some of the greatest Western Classical Music composers are quoted in the piano part just like the people of Istanbul crossing the bridge between East and West every single day.
Standing in solidarity with all nations in East and West suffering from terrorism, we share the sound of Istanbul as a message of peace to heal our souls.
Listen to the sound of Istanbul and join our fight against war and terror by sharing the music that brings us together! Let’s spread the “good”.

GENIUS #CHOPIN – A Theatrical Concert

CLASSICALFOR ALL_Logo1clrFor “Classical for All” ; February and March are the months to celebrate Frederic Chopin’s birthday! On February 21st, we are putting our project GENIUS #CHOPIN on its feet with a great cast of players! It is a theatrical concert created by Emir and I, focused on the timelessness of Chopin’s music.
You can join us by purchasing your tickets here :
And here’s a little reading from “Classical for All” ;

“I do not climb so high. A long time ago I decided that my universe will be the soul and the heart of man. It is there that I look for nuances of every feeling which I transfer to music as well as I can.” – Frederic CHOPIN

“Hats off gentlemen! A new genius!” shouted a young music enthusiast in Leipzig. He had the score of a new piece by Frederic Chopin in his hand. He sat down at the piano and started to play the piece while everyone, including composer Robert Schumann, in Caffebaum listened to him silently.
chopinsick1In his short life, often interrupted by his poor health,Frédéric Chopin composed more than 200 pieces for piano. When we consider all the other highly acclaimed classical composers of his time, composing only for the piano could be something that many people would look down to. However, whenever someone played his music, or let’s put it this way; whenever Chopin started to talk, he made his case. His sincere, open-hearted, sentimental and yet solemn melodies spoke to the listener, directly about beauty. This chat continues for centuries between Frederic and us.

However Chopin is no hero, and his life was no fairytale. He spent most of his life complaining about loneliness, away from his country, in places that he could barely speak the language. His humorous character grew grumpier and grumpier as his body weakened through the years. He wasn’t good looking, wasn’t rich, he didn’t own any property, didn’t have any children. He was nowhere close to being “the boy next door”. He could easily be forgotten in the history of humankind. He had only one thing; his music. During the war between Russia and Poland, he was away from home, in constant worry and grief.

“And I here unoccupied! And I am here with empty hands! Sometimes I only groan, suffer and despair at the piano! ”

He wrote to his journal. Is it only his talent that made him a genius, or his endurance and ability to hold on to something meaningful to him?
The genius of Frederic Chopin is our foundation, our corner stone in this theatrical concert. While following his life story with its successes, longings, hesitations, loves and losses, we are witnessing the lives of others from different times and places around the world. Some of the characters have gifts to be discovered, to be fought for, and some of them are waiting for an inspiration to take the first step. With his music, Frédéric Chopin will be there for them to give inspiration, strength and sometimes challenge.

GENIUS #CHOPIN is a Theatrical Concert about the genius of the celebrated composer and the genius within us, with six scenes in six different times & places with 13 characters telling the story of one composer.
Concept by Classical for All
Music: Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
Pianist: Emir Gamsızoğlu
A Play by Ege Maltepe
CAST: Thomas Lester , Rüya Koman , Steven Hitt , Cihangir Duman , Valentina Giovannini, Ege Maltepe
FEBRUARY 21st, 2016 – 4:00pm 
Greenwich House Music School – Renee Weiler Concert Hall
46 Barrow Street, New York NY 10014


Op.53 – Polonaise in A Flat Major, “Heroic”
Op.64, No.2 – Waltz in C Sharp Minor
Op.66 – Fantasie Impromptu
Op.7, No.3 – Mazurka No.7 in F Minor
Op.10, No.12 – Etude No.12 in C Minor, “Revolutionary”
Op.10, No.5 – Etude in G Flat Major, “Black Keys”
PARIS 1840
Op.28, No.15 – Prelude in D Flat Major, “Raindrop”
Op.23 – Ballade No.1
Op.68, No.4 – Mazurka No.49 in F Minor, , “Last composition”
Nocturne No.8, Op.27, No.2

Confessions of a Pianist's Wife

Bilkent Symphony

When I was in the acting school in Bilkent University, I used to sneak into the concert hall next door to hear Bilkent Symphony and sit in the balcony and listen… I have to confess that couple of times I fell asleep while they were performing, not because I was bored – I hope- but the music was so soothing after a long day’s work in the acting school. It was also because I didn’t know almost anything about the composers or the pieces and I wasn’t engaged enough with what was happening in front of me.
Then I met Emir. He was a classical pianist. My interest in him was not because he was Mr. fancy pants playing the piano, on the contrary from the get-go I have understood that piano will be his true love and I had to act accordingly!
I remember one day, just couple months after we started dating, he was getting ready for an important concert in which he was going to play Mendelssohn’s Violin-Piano Concerto with Marina. This peanuts-700x290_lineartopia_1was a piece that he never played before and he only had 50 days to get ready (Which is crazy, if you have any idea about playing piano). So he was practicing in the apartment with his second lover, the metronome (Miss Metronome is very annoying) and was working on a particular passage, over and over again. He has started from a VERY slow tempo and one notch at a time he was getting faster and was still struggling. He stopped, and said “Okay” took a deep breath “Let’s start over” And he went back all the way down to the slowest tempo one more time. I was stunned and annoyed and shocked and scared all at the same time. I said “I’m going”, “Where?”, “I will take a walk”. He didn’t question he knew that it was unbearable.
While I was walking I thought “If I keep dating him, and if this relationship goes somewhere, this will be my life… Do I really want this?” Then I called my friend Yasemin telling her what happened and while I was talking to her, I remember feeling good about this overall situation. Because I knew what it was to put up with the struggles and sometimes pain in order to make your dream come true.
photo 1Years went by, piano, metronome, Emir and I are happily married for 6 years now, living in a tiny apartment in New York all four of us. We don’t have children yet, but our foursome gave birth to projects that combine the two loves of our lives; music and theater. Together we created projects like Drama in Beethoven, Talking to Schubert, Genius by Chopin, Two Faces of Schumann… and produced casual concerts and shows in Caffe Vivaldi. Now we are getting ready for a big chamber music concert which will feature seven great musicians from our interdisciplinary group “New Yorker Ensemble” playing a fun concert themed “Folk in Classical Music”.
Obviously along the years I became a huge classical music fan. I often find myself bored while listening to other genres, except when there is a great virtuoso or a truly great voice performing. I find it boring because I feel like the music keeps repeating itself instead of making me travel from land to land, tickling my mind and touching my heart, like classical music does. Some people say that classical music is a “special” thing, they often use the word “education” with classical music. And with “education”, “institutions” come to mind, which I think take it away from our daily life and makes us see it “special”. So this may be seen as a nice round vicious circle, a loop-hole in our culture.
Emir used to say that it takes a little bit more time, maybe requires some effort to become a classical music lover. So you can build patience to follow a long piece of music without words (Of course not every classical music piece is without words, I’m speaking generally here). Also having a context helps, knowing about a composer’s life, what was he or she trying to achieve at that point of his/her life. But hey, every good thing has a price, so this is the price for classical music; taking a moment, slowing the time to breathe with music, to stay present with music. I find it entertaining. I will always remember my first time hearing The Rite of Spring from Concertgebouw Orchestra in Istanbul’s Ataturk Kultur Merkezi. It was like listening to a rock concert, my heart was pounding so hard the whole time. After the concert we couldn’t stop talking about it. So, exposure to live classical music helps tremendously, especially if you are witnessing great musicians playing with all their might.
New Yorker Trio @Caffe VivaldiOur cafe concerts at West Village’s Caffe Vivaldi have been so powerful for our audience, because they get to witness music being created right in front of their eyes; no stage lights, no musicians in black dresses coming from a backstage, no “magic”, just music… Once a young audience member came to us after concert and said “This is the most real thing I have seen for a long time”. His feedback made us very happy. Because that is what we’re tying to achieve. No dress codes, no procedure, no institution, no tickets, just a donation box… We said, if people like what we’re doing, they will support. We named ourselves “Classical for All”
Miss Metronome

As for our “foursome”, I find myself lucky to be sharing my tiny apartment with Emir’s lovers, although I still want to choke Miss Metronome at times.
Here’s a little clip as a sneak peek into Folk in Classical Music that will be performed on May 20th at Greenwich House Music’s intimate Renee Weiler Concert Hall:

In-Yer-Face with Beethoven!

photo 1I consider myself as a very lucky person, because I’m married to a classical musician whose work involves some of the greatest artists in the history of human kind. Often I get to hang out with people like Chopin, Bach, and Rachmaninoff. Everyday I’m witnessing how music, as one of the most abstract art form, can become the spokesperson of your emotions. Unfortunately I don’t play any instrument ( “Yet!” yells my former acting teacher George Morrison who often speaks to me in my head) but I’m a devoted listener of classical music since the day I met Emir.
Nowadays we are getting ready to perform our show DRAMA IN BEETHOVEN in New York City. This is a project that we’ve developing since 2009.

So ladies and gentlemen, Ludwig is in da house!

Ludwig Van Beethoven
Ludwig Van Beethoven

Reading about Beethoven’s life, his truthfulness, stubbornness and the way he directly speaks his mind, makes me think, “This guy had balls!”, and sometimes I wish I could be like him, even though he had a lonely life full of dysfunctional relationships. But then I think maybe some people has to suffer in order to create masterpieces like Hammerklavier.
The truthfulness, passion and consistency in Beethoven’s music, to me is incomparable even when I consider the other greatest composers (Here,  Emir would argue with me and tell me about the intelligence behind Bach’s Preludes-Fugues, ok I get it!). But to me Beethoven is unique, because when I listen to his pieces I feel like he just speaks to my face, holding me from my shoulders so I don’t run away. He speaks his thoughts, his anger, his love, his victories and losses… and he doesn’t let me go, he wants me to hear and understand every word! And he’s damn honest!
In DRAMA IN BEETHOVEN we conduct an experiment to give an option to the listener while listening to classical music, we link Beethoven’s music to stories. For example an important part of the performance is about the relationship between Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata, in that part I get to blush with excitement since two greatest artists are in the room together.
Come, join us and see me blush in West Village’s best music cafe, so Beethoven can talk to your face!
January 25th 6pm January 26th 4pm, at 32 Jones Street, 10014
Read our interview on Manhattan’s West Side Spirit (NY PRESS)