Selection of international interviews
Selection of interviews of Pekinels from different music magazines such as Gramophone, BBC Music, Fono-Forum, Fanfare, Pianists (Bärenreiter) and daily newspapers such as Financial Times and Frankfurter Allgemeine.
How does sitting back-to-back, without any eye contact affect your music?
GP – The absence of the eye-contact helps to build a very creative distance. We get open for risks through our concentrated feeling.
When the pianos are placed vis-à-vis and the cover of one piano is removed, the sound of the second piano reaches the hall only after having lost 65% of its original purity. Also the pedals appear often blurred so that the tone quality loses much of its character. Moreover we permanently keep improving our conception of the symphonic sound. For us this position is the most logical and natural.
Are such experiments in relation to music or is it the result of knowledge and experiences throughout the years?
SP – We have come to the conclusion, that this new positioning allows us to form and experience the breath and the rhythm of the music more individually. It bases on the accumulation of a long search and experience in order to reach perfection in the musical interpretation in all levels.
Even if not on the scene: are you trying to interpret the same music in different ways?
GP – Firstly, we work both parts of a score on our own in order to become more flexible in our vision. But during the joint interpretation, the musical core and the idea of the work is the only significant essence which we have to find together. Consequently it is the combination of our solo work and the final result of our teamwork which helps to create our interpretation.
Would this harmony between you exist even if you were not twins?
SP – This is pure speculation. But I think that we would have found a synchrony which would have been maybe not that much distinctive. We are communicating almost telepathically. We file on each detail, despite, every concert is a surprise. Our intuition helps us to transcribe surprises into music. One of the most important reasons why we sit back to back during our play is, exactly the fact, that we challenge the higher risk in order to live and let live the momentum more intensive.
Have you been compared with each other? How did this affect your relationship as twins?
GP – Our similarity surely has caused some kind of concurrence. Questions like: who plays better, who plays more did affect us, indeed. But we took the consequence quite early: neither did Süher play my scores, nor did I listen to her scores, and this, even though we had the same teachers. We transferred this also to our private life. Starting from our friends, our lifestyles are totally different from each other.
How was it in your case – how did you get the chance to work with the great Masters of our time?
SP – Besides the most important teachers of the world, we also had the chance to work together with the most impressive Musicians of our time. They accept young musicians often as colleagues rather than as students. The artists who have formed the music in the 20th century such as Serkin, Arrau, Karajan, Bernstein and Mehta, opened us the gates to the world. Over many years they have followed the development in our careers from near and far. Their trust carried and motivated us even in difficult times.
Through the popularization of art in the world, classical music found a new connection to other types of music, with Jazz for instance. You also made use of Jazz in your Bach-Interpretation. Did such experiences cause a change in the course of the Classic-Listeners? Was it possible to win more listeners?
GP – It is not so easy to accommodate classical music with jazz. There must exist a harmony between the two music cultures and ways of expression. There are very few artists who reach this. Jacques Loussier is one of them. Classic reaches freedom and enrichment through Jazz and Jazz finds a different depth in the classical tradition. The curiosity grows and that’s what counts. The distance between classic and jazz listeners shrinks and both types of music are melting without reducing their quality. Actually this is a process that we want to continue.
The “Take Bach”- CD you recorded together with the Jacques-Loussier-Trio includes Bach-Concertos for two and three pianos, interpreted in Jazz-Style. Can you say that Bach’s music is more suitable for variations, improvisations and the adaptation to other forms of music?
SP – We are very familiar with Bach since our childhood. He created timeless structures. He is a composer who can be transformed easily due to his mathematic transparency of his works. This is why he always has been so popular for Jazz musicians. The “Swing of his works is the reason why his music fits so good with jazz. The re-arrangement of the architecture of Bach’s works allows to capture the “Swing in Jazz. This doesn’t estrange Bach’s Music in anyway. Quite to the contrary, the music gains a very new dimension and transparency and at the same time opens new ways of improvisation for the musician.
You are still at the peak in spite of reducing the number of your concerts recent years. We know that it is so difficult to remain at the peak. How do you achieve it?
GP –It is something we deliberately did. Being lost within the routine of concerts may consume an artist. We were able to see such cases in some important artists we know. The important thing is to be able to see your borders while forcing your limits. This directs you again to the balance within your heart. Our present situation is an ideal one for us. To work with prestigious companies in the world by performing less but qualified music… This is not easy because each new work needs to bring a new and superior interpretation and a better quality understanding together with the accumulation and work discipline for years.
Most people see you as a whole but you significantly tried not to be. You had a war of personality. When did you win this war?
GP –You cannot win this war and you should not win it indeed… You can only go further in such togetherness by gaining the other party not by defeating. The important thing is to always keep the balance again as if walking on a rope at the height while stepping further.
During your university period, you were very much involved in the problems of the world and the country and thus became too political. For this reason, for instance, you did not play the piano for two years. How do you approach the problems of the world and the country now? Do you do anything for a solution? Do you adopt a political attitude?
SP –The street marches initiated by universities of 68 generation and continued in 70s for a more liberal democracy understanding within a transformation process of a legal and individual structures imposed by stereotypes had great influence on us too during our university study. For example, we were drawn apart from music for two years like now by devoting ourselves to social projects during our additional studies of psychology and philosophy at Goethe University as well as our major study at Frankfurt Musikhochschule. We had focused on the education and daily problems of a generation from Anatolia struggling with adaptation problems. We did not have any time for anything. But this showed us that there is another world apart from music by opening the doors of real life and carried our music to different dimensions than our expectations. We continue these activities during our careers.
When we look back to the past, we observed that some stones formed a structure by being placed on each other; we believe that this was achieved by consistent and permanent work and not just talking. In this sense, we show great respect to foundations and non-governmental organizations believing and aiming in serious and qualified education such as CYDD, TEV, ACEV, KARDELEN, TEMA VAKFI. We also see that the sense of conscious citizenship is gradually improving.
For you, is it possible to change something with music?
GP –The world which is gradually becoming more and more routine needs more and more spiritual nourishment. Music has positive effects such as unifying people and turning loneliness and sorrow to joy. When we look around, everybody always listens to music everywhere. The important thing is to attain the music conquering our soul and share it. And it is possible only through education and extended awareness. While allowing to be more tolerant and transparent in thought, music places the way of thinking in a new system due to its nature of uniting mind and soul. Thus, those who are actively involved in every field of art are more creative and more productive.
For you, what are Turkey’s and the World’s biggest problems? How can these problems be solved?
SP –We believe that we should regain the individual and social values that are being lost now. We think that we should rapidly attain a new ethical understanding and a social structure internalizing democracy and state of law on the global level. In addition, we also believe that a modern and conscious new education system is necessary for a generation that will direct technological and scientific developments, while being respectful to ecological values.
Furthermore, the legal system must be immediately brought to a transparent and correct level by renewing itself based on world standards in order to maintain a real democracy in Turkey. This situation rightfully creates a great injustice in our society. Related to this, we experienced and are still experiencing great injustices.
Do you have any new album work for the next season?
SP – One of the two DVDs including our four live concerts will be simultaneously released all over the world in November 2009 by “Arthaus Musik”, a DVD company exhibiting our works in music. The first DVD will include the opening concert of Luzern Piano Festival, Zurich Christmas Concert, Mozart and Bach concertos together with London English Chamber Orchestra directed by Sir Collin Davis.
Furthermore, CDs including nine dual piano concertos and five recitals programs, composed of two separate boxes to be produced by Warner Classics CD company will be released for sale. Three documentaries produced by German and French televisions are partially being broadcasted. Their shortened version will be included on the DVD. Our album and DVDs to be available in Turkey will be released for sale in October 2009.
Throughout your educational experience, you worked with legendary names, and now, with your project “Young Musicians on World Stages,” you are sharing your professional experiences with young talents. What has been achieved so far in Turkey and what are your future goals within the scope of this project?
GP: As you know, the aim of the “Young Musicians on World Stages” project, which we started in 2010, was to ensure that exceptionally talented newcomers were able to train in Europe with globally renowned instructors who are the best in their field, to open the path leading to the world stage, and contribute to their successes in international competitions. Within this framework, our scholarship recipients have placed first six times and second three times in international music competitions in only three years. Among them, 16 year-old Veriko Tchumburidze achieved a first for Turkey, placing first in the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians held in Montreux, Switzerland, by receiving the highest score awarded by the jury, and, in September, violinist Elvin Hoxha placed third in the International David Oistrakh Violin Competition held in Moscow. Sponsored by Onduline Avrasya until the first season of 2013, and currently being sponsored by Tüpraş since the second half of 2013, our musicians are continuing their conservatory education in Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Leipzip, Cologne, Zurich, and Brussels. Now, young musicians from Europe who would like to take part in the project are also applying, however, we will be giving priority to those who are applying from Turkey.
Duygu Eliz Erkut, who is among this year’s scholarship recipients, is the only Turkish ballerina to study at the Milano La Scala Academy, which is one of the most important schools for classical ballet. Since outstanding talents Can Çakmur and Cem Esen are still continuing their education, they are taking monthly private lessons in Brussels from their esteemed instructor. 13 year-old violinist Doğa Altınok started her education at the Amadeus International School Vienna in the September of last year. In the March of this year, our scholarship recipients gave a concert, which was recorded on DVD, at the Zurich Tonhalle’s chamber music hall. The recording will be released by Lila Music this coming October. In the last five months, our young musicians have given concerts at venues including the German Consulate (New Years Concert), the Albert Long Hall at Boğaziçi University, the Notre Dame de Sion Concert Hall and the Kadıköy Süreyya Opera House.
You have received recognition for your work involving young musicians. Why is it important for young musicians to be supported?
While studying in Germany and in the U.S., we received great support not only from important musicians, but also from managers and record labels in the following years. The help we received through the mentorship of reputable conductors like Maestro Karajan, Zubin Mehta and Sir Colin Davis influenced our lives greatly in terms of music. We use the opportunities that were given to us at the time and our experiences to discover superior talents through various projects and to train them in becoming world class artists. They will be shaping the future of music and will make Turkey’s presence felt in international platforms. Being a musician and an artist is a great responsibility and they need to be equipped in every respect in order to culturally enrich society. We utilize our time and all manner of contacts and relations in order to ensure this equipage. In addition to steering them towards renowned teachers and schools, we also try and ensure that they work with the best instruments. In order to remain in the program, the talent that we select are required to prove themselves by competing in an international competition each year. Then, having their names heard throughout these various platforms, unexpected future opportunities can also come their way.
You founded a music department at TEVITOL. What are your objectives in the department and how did it develop?
GP –TEVITOL is a boarding school, which gives high school education in English language to students with higher intelligence selected from all over Turkey. 85 % of the school’s students are composed of children of families with limited material possibilities. Therefore, they are given full scholarships. We consciously founded the music department at this school because we believe that musical education is a significant part of general education.
Composing the features and structuring the details of a proper system was not easy at all! , Though we had to solve problems such as selecting instruments and building studying rooms with a proper acustic and ventilation system as well as many different things, Our primary objectives were to operate an education system in a disciplined way, to develop regular studying habits by students, to maintain a disciplined and transparent management and to introduce students to universal music culture not just to music techniques. Forming the staff able to give such an education and maintaining its operation in a disciplined manner took much of our time. At the end we were successful in bringing together a stuff of teachers all graduated from conservatory where we are able to give students a training equal to a half day conservatory study. In order to upgrade the level step by step in a meaningful way, another objective of our program is to invite authorities in music to Gebze. So that students can meet music authorities where through interviews they widen their horizons on music analyses, world history and modern music. For instance, our students who listened to Prof Dr Filiz Ali with great attention will find the opportunity of meeting and listening to Prof Dr Evin Ilyasoglu in October and later on Zeynep Oral. Such initiatives create positive reactions among our students beyond our expectations.
Do you also support TEVITOL Music Department financially?
SP – We were very much concerned that such a department should not be a burden to the school since it is a foundation. We significantly care about our system’s integration with the school management structure, as well as it being free. This helps us to control the system in such a way, that we may perform changes required for development in a quick, effective and predicted way. In this sense, we supply a part of the necessary budget through our concerts and the remaining part through sponsors. We would like to highlight that Koc Group’s contribution to education with determination has great support to the school and music department both financially and spiritually.
Do you select students to TEVITOL Music Department or is there a board?
GP – We select students of the music department by means of a jury composed from all of our music teachers who have originally studied at the conservatory and have strong pedagogical capacity. It is a similar process to a conservatory entrance process. Apart from their hearing, their sense of rhythm and their voices, we also look after their interest and knowledge in music. If these requirements fit our expectation level, we then decide depending on their hand structures which instrument they could be able to play. We expect the number of students which was 21 in the first semester will be 85 in this year and over 100 in the coming semester. This figure constitutes half of the total students at the school. When most students see how their friends who begun to play music without any prior knowledge could masterfully play the instruments in a short time, they also want to experience and share this feeling. Currently solfeggio musical note reading, rhythm and general world history of music classes are attended by most students at the school.
Music is an art with a universal aspect and an involvement requiring a conscious work. It is not only enough to learn musical notes and play the composition but it is also necessary to search and follow artistic, social and political developments of that age.
Does being selected as “wonder child” once and having a scholarship have an effect in your support to TEVITOL?
GP –We did not receive any scholarship from Turkey. We had our primary school education in Istanbul and Ankara and then we continued the first two years of secondary school at Notre Dame de Sion as boarding students. Meanwhile, we worked with Ferdi Statzer at the conservatory and Mithat Fenmen in Ankara. Later on we first went to Paris and then to Frankfurt. While we were studying at Odenwaldschule High School in Germany, a boarding school like TEVITOL giving general high school education to children with superior intelligence, we won the first prize in the piano competition in Germany as soloists. Due to sharing the award and then winning some other first prizes, the German government significantly supported us by granting a scholarship in America and monitored our development for many years. We have been supported by France and America as well. So we are aware of how important it is to have the correct support at the correct place.
The things we have done are very natural and not to be done the first time. Our belief for social solidarity and our attempts to do what is necessary for it, since the age of 22, have carried us to the present day. After our students’ concert we saw how difficult it is to see a student who would begin musical education at around 15 within a new system proper to its purposes . We always highlighted it but TEVITOL currently does not have such a kindergarten and a primary school. We support such a formation from the bottom of our hearts so that Turkey would be able to compete worldwide and could have a musical future.
Do you consider continuing to support some of them after they graduate?
SP –For us, it is a part of our duty. You cannot leave the captain of a small boat alone, sailing in an ocean and fighting with huge waves.
One of our students, who graduated this year received full scholarship to study in America. We greatly care about providing supports to their friends previously scattered around the world by coordinating them. Furthermore, we try to provide them any help where we can.