Selection of Turkish interviews
from different Turkish Music Magazines, Daily Newspapers and Radio Reportages
Füsun Özgüç, 12.05.2016
Reportage with Füsun Özgüç, Borusan Classical Radio aired at 12.05.2016
The Anatolian Orff Project under the leadership of the international artists Güher-Süher Pekinel and the support of Finansbank offers significant contributions to Turkey’s future and the Music Education in Turkey.
As a a part of the project three teachers will specialize in the Orff-Schulwerk approach during a nine month education in Salzburg, where they learn how to reach to natural talent, highlighting the creativity and multiple intelligences.
After completing their education, the teachers will return to Turkey to teach the Orff Approach to teacher groups of 30 people in a total of 180 hours all over Anatolia will all its details.
Our producer Füsun Özgüç spoke with the world-famous piano duo Güher and Süher Pekinel about their three major education project, the Anatolia Orff Music Education, the TEVITOL Güher & Pekinels Music Department and about the “Young Stars of the World Stage” Foundation.
Sanat Deliorman , December 2015
Güher & Süher Pekinel: “Our empathy with all the victims of war, impacts also our music.”
Your concert on December 15, will be opened with Bartok and continue with contemporary works, we are used to hear from big orchestras. Each title is more striking than the other. First of all, Penderecki’s adaptation of Ciaccona for two pianos arranged for you. İs this Ciaccona we know from Polish Requiem?
As known, Krzysztof Penderecki, for whom we have great respect and feel closely connected, added Ciaccona to Polish Requiem in 2005 in memory of polish Pope John Paul II, who has achieved great changes for world peace. Polish Requiem was composed to honour the heroes and events during the World war two and those killed in the Polish anti-government riots in 1970. The Polish Requiem was first performed in 1984. Due to our request concerning a short piece, Penderecki selected for us Ciaccona and supervised his assistant, the composer and pianist Stanislaw Deja, who arranged the piece for both instruments in great harmony. Even if maestro usually doesn’t integrate the piano in his works, Ciaccona has a deeply affecting beauty, we are most grateful to him.
“Spices”,”Perfumes”, ”Toxins”, from young Israeli composer Avner Dorman, is originally a work of 20 enchanting, exotic and daring percussion solos. How will you bring the enrichment of percussion into harmony within the arrangement for two pianos?
As announced in our programme, “Spices” will be performed as solo work by distinguished percussionists, Raphael Haeger and Simon Rössler of the Berliner Philharmoniker. We have asked both to perform also as soloist. Their selected piece includes Jazz elements, combines different styles and is really virtuosic. İt will be a musically smooth transition to West Side Story. Despite his young age, Aver Dorman has won several awards and has his own musical expression. We assume that the audience will react enthusiastically.
May you tell us again the story about the arrangement of West Side Story for you? How will the conflict between the gangs be reflected by the two pianos?
West Side Story is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s’ “Romeo and Julia” and as well as Shakespeare’s work. The concept of the musical has not lost its actuality since it is a metaphor for national conflicts. While these conflicts stay alive with hate and racism, there is a love that knows no distinction of races, cultures, nationalities or religions, which reached its tragic culmination in the devastating anger of two rival gangs. Today, we are still living such tragedies around the world, it is impossible not to be affected by these dramas. Therefore our empathy with all the victims of war, impacts also our music. Bernstein was not only a musician, conductor and composer but also politically committed, which is highlighted in West Side Story. When you compare the pieces of our program with each other, you will find a common denominator. After his father had been killed by Bolsheviks and his other brother had been taken off to Siberia where he died, Lutoslawski made a living in Nazi-occupied Warsaw for himself and his mother by playing with his friend 4 hands piano music in small cafés. During this period he transcribed a version of Paganini’s Caprice no. 24 in A minor for two pianos. Of course his fear and rebelliousness can be felt in his music. Despite all the difficulties, his faithful personality looking for peace and harmony, shows an explosive and intensive reflection in his Variations on a Theme by Paganini. Penderecki has lived the victimization of 2nd World War, too. His family had to leave their home and could not return to the totally destroyed region until the end of the war. His believe in god and the humanity has saved him. The fact that even today, nothing has been learned from the past history is shocking all of us. To underline this sad truth, we have created our program, since we believe that love, respect and honest will overcome all obstacles, will be hope for peace and silence the guns, terror and screams.
Bernstein left us in 1990, but Symphonic Dances recorded by you was published in 2005 if I am not mistaken. Why did you wait 15 years?
İn 1987, due to Hanno Rinke, then artist director of Deutsche Gramophone, we had the chance to come together with Bernstein. He found it very interesting to arrange Symphonic Dances for two pianos and percussions and implemented our wish. Supervised by him, the arrangement of his assistants Paul McKibbins and Robert Philipps was revised a few times. Bernstein wanted to ensure the translation of the same intensity into two pianos. We are still working with the hand written script. Why Symphonic Dances? In perspective of musicality, this part is including an intensive symphonic idea and rhythmical and harmonically content. In our view, it is the most striking piece of the musical and has immediately enchanted us. We’ve recorded it in 1988 for Teldec/ Warner Classics. İt succeeded to stay in the markets for almost 20 years and from time to time the recording is still crossing our way. By the way, Hanno Rinke, who has written our biography film script, was also behind the camera during the production of “Double Life”. West Side Story has found its place in this documentary, too. This ARD Production was broadcasted many times, until it was bought by Unitel. Finally the film still makes his way, as bonus track on our 2nd DVD.
Would you kindly tell us something about the international reviews of your last CD/DVD with Zubin Mehta?
First of all the positive reviews and news are really motivating us. İn January 2015 our DVD was nominated for the “Quarterly Critics’ Choice” within “The German Record Critics’ Award” along with Berlin Philharmonie/Rattle, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Nelson , Staatskapelle Dresden/Thielmann , Evgeny Kissen and Menahem Pressler. Two weeks ago we got the news, that our DVD is also nominated for the “Annual Award”. We hope to continue this success with our next work, which would be a great feeling.
Lutowslawski’s “Variations on a Theme by Paganini” will be a premier in Turkey ….we would like to imagine, that also this peace was arranged specially for you…will your pianos be positioned one behind the other? We are very curious.
Life is full of surprises. Let’s face this evening with surprises, too.
Güray Başol , June 2014
A New DVD Recording from the Pekinels and Zubin Mehta
Following their global and very distinguished career, our world-famous piano-duo Güher and Süher Pekinel decreased their general activity in the field of general music education starting in 2007 with TEVİTÖL, dedicating themselves also in 2010, to the interpretation with their music education of young and very talented Turkish young musicians for their world career (Dünya Sahnelerinde Genç Müzisyenler). Simultaneously continuing to record for prestigious labels, the Pekinels’ DVD recording with conductor Zubin Mehta was released this month in Turkey.
Your recording which was released this month in Turkey, consisting of 2 CD’s and a DVD plus CD, includes very various duo pieces, in addition to a concerto you performed under the direction of one of the greatest living orchestra conductors, Zubin Mehta. Could you provide our readers with some information regarding this release, which will be distributed globally in September?
SP/GP: Our DVD and CD recordings, whose Turkish distribution was pulled forward by the publishing firm Unitel/Arthaus, in an effort to have it ready for the Istanbul Music Festival, will be available in our country starting this month. Our recordings will also be available at the IKSV store and sales points established at concert venues throughout the festival. Breaking new ground for Turkey, IKSV will also be selling our recording alongside souvenirs specially produced for the festival at Beymen stores with which they have partnered.
IKSV’s special design products for this year also honor us as well. As part of the collaboration IKSV undertook with artists, this year, two of our paintings that were created in 1978 and sold in aid of the World Wild Fund in Frankfurt, were used in Bülent Erkmen’s collage design for the advertising poster of the Istanbul Music Festival. Additionally, our paintings will also be featured on products that will be sold this year. Just like in festivals held in cities such as Salzburg, New York, and Paris, this effort will mean that our desire for art to reach different segments of the public will come to life. We hope that the diversity that will develop over years will spread across all sections of society to eventually include segments that are not yet acquainted with new, dynamic, and classical music. Personally, we believe this is very important. As part of world music, the more classical music appeals to the people, the more it will become the classic of the people.
Compared to a studio recording, the recording of a live concert must be a relatively different experience, is it not?
All of our DVD’s are live recordings. Film takes on the role of immortalizing the excitement and actuality of those lived minutes. In a way, this work also stands against the unfortunately common practice, the understanding of going into the studio and converting momentum into a collage in the name of quickly achieving excellence. Of course, this preference is more risky as mistakes that may be made in the concert setting remain an inevitable part of this choice. This mentality is more akin to the recordings made between 1950-1980. We still listen to these recordings and identify with them because they are exceedingly natural. Since we have generally been recording all of our recordings for years, this process isn’t difficult for us; just the opposite, live recordings only adds to our excitement.
It’s also an important privilege to be able to do this with radio institutions that are known for their recordings. Since there is no going back in a recording, it’s extremely critical that the microphones are optimally placed. Additionally, with the purpose of generating profits from their own archives, in the agreements made with these radio institutions, they hold the right to use the concert in their programs as much as they want, which, in turn, allows for the global recognition our recordings. Even though we had performed our concert program at the Würzburg and Ludwigsburg festivals, they recorded the concert two nights in a row, in order to use it for the Bavarian Radio and Stuttgart Radio archives.
The musical structure, variation, and integrity is extremely important in the selection of the pieces to be included in the concert. We opened the concert featured on this recording with Schubert’s “Fantasie in F minor for Piano, Four Hands.” This opening piece was followed by Mozart’s “D major Sonata Op. 448 for Two Pianos” and Debussy’s In Black and White, of which the third section is dedicated to Stravinsky. We then bid farewell to our audience with one of Spanish composer Manuel Infante’s most important pieces Andalusian Dances, Poulenc’s scarcely played Elegy, Lutoslawski’s Paganini-Variations, and, finally, Darius Milhaud’s work Scaramouche’s third section “Braziliera,” which is adorned with Latin rhythms. We undertook this entire effort with the firm Unitel, which has developed a rich archive of important musicians. Upon Zubin Mehta’s suggestion, years ago Unitel purchased our ARD and Arte co-produced one-hour biographical film from ARD, and the firm Arthaus took on, its issuing and distribution.
You initially went to Paris for a short time at a very young age, immediately after to Germany and then to the U.S. for your further music education. Why did you decide to continue your education in Germany when you had the opportunity to work with the important pedagogue Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen in Paris?
GP: From Rameau to Debussy and Ravel to Dutilleux and Boulez, the French school encompasses a wide musical realm. Our instructor Statzer, who had adopted the French school as the student of Alfred Cortot and internalized the German school as an Austrian, instilled this synthesis in us. Emotionally, we searched for the continuation of this synthesis and our predominant love of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert quickly led us to Germany. Even though we embraced Madame Loriod’s teaching and personality; she was opening many doors for us with all kinds of help; and though she insisted we graduate from the conservatory as valedictorians, the German school outweighed this. Whenever we look back, our belief in the choice we made in those years has never changed.
SP: As you know, pianists should have established their technique by the time they are 16, and then continue to develop their unique interpretive style by consciously enriching that technique via different schools. Rudolf Serkin and Claudio Arrau have always emphasized this fact: Just like no two hands are alike, you can only create your unique color of touch by yourself. Accordingly, when we worked with Serkin and Arrau, the important things were the piece’s structural integrity, with all its details and the strength of musical expression. When they had lessons with us, they would play little, more so referencing philosophical authors and painters, quoting composers’ other works, and ensuring the formation of our interpretations, which rendered the bodies of work more transparent, in a manner that was generally faithful to the piece. Let us also note that we only worked with them as soloists.
GP: What Serkin and Arrau would emphasize was that we worked from the original score, and were completely loyal to it. Serkin would even bring in the second or third editions, compare them to the original, identify errors, and then explain them. In his eyes, it was extremely important to reach the purity lying at the heart of the piece. Of course, this point of view influenced our view of music as well.
SP: Adele Marcus, our instructor at Julliard in New York, however, was a teacher coming from the Junghaus school, whose touch possessed a magnificent color palette. Whereas Claudio Arrau, known as the “Seigneur of the Piano,” would explain, in his own unique manner, how each neatly worked detail could be integrated into the whole, with all its elegance and softness. He was a good instructor, who had mastered the technique of detail in every aspect. Every pianist must accurately identify their deficiencies and select their instructor accordingly because no instructor can give you everything. It was a great privilege to work with these masters, and each of them also enriched us greatly as individuals. We are indebted to each of them.
In addition to recording Bach’s concertos for two pianos with the British Chamber Orchestra conducted by Colin Davis, you also released the Take Bach album featuring this music suited to improvisation. How did the idea of bringing Bach and jazz music together come about?
GP: Ever since we were children, we found transparency within harmony and the endless pursuit and direct formulation of the extraordinary, in Bach. This is because of Bach’s farsightedness and his ability to simultaneously give life to the past, the present, and the future, as well as the timelessness of his works. When his music is approached consciously, its “swing” characteristics naturally come to light. This is why Bach is popular among jazz musicians. Adapting Bach’s musical architecture to jazz, without fully disturbing it, is only possible by catching the composers’ “swing” characteristic. Jacques Loussier is a successful example regarding the combination of classical music and jazz. Jazz frees and enriches classical music. Within the tradition of classical music, jazz acquires a different kind of depth. What is important here is closing the distance between listeners of classical music and jazz, and that these two genres are blended together without any loss of quality.
SP: For our generation, raised on famous pianist Glenn Gould’s innovative Bach interpretations, this style was a brand new and alternative discovery. This development later led us to Bill Evans and George Shearing, and we had the pleasure of experiencing them as the “poets” of jazz piano. With their distinctive style, Evans, Shearing, and Loussier not only worked on Bach, but also arrived at new interpretations by blending jazz with the harmonies of Brahms, Schumann, Debussy, Ravel, Satie, and Milhaud.
You also frequently perform pieces out of the modern music repertoire. Can we discuss 20th century music, its execution, and, more specifically, your recording of Igor Stravinsky’s revolutionary piece The Rite of Spring?
GP: Within the scope of the celebrations for Stravinsky’s piece, The Rite of Spring’s 100th anniversary, the firms Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, and Philips put together a box-set of the best The Rite of Spring interpretations they released since 1913. This set also includes Stravinsky’s own interpretation from 1921. It brought us great joy that, in addition to interpretations by Ansermet, Haitink, Karajan, and Solti, Deutsche Grammophon chose to include our own, from their 1987 recording. The Rite of Spring is one of the most intriguing pieces of the 20th century, celebrating the coming of spring and illustrating its deep and effective role in bringing together different musical cultures. Bringing out the instinctive ways of primitive people prior to civilization, the piece appeals to completely contrary directions by overlaying multiple percussive rhythms and simultaneously utilizing different tonalities.
SP: We take care to try and live as artists who are open to world music and diversity, in addition to classical music. One component that has enriched us the most throughout our career is experiencing new interactions within different types of music, free of any template, and creating new syntheses. As thus, with our Taking Bach CD recording in 2000, we had the opportunity to appeal to a completely different audience. Our “computer-synthesizer” focused work with Bob James, Bach-Jazz, had also given us a taste for innovations that we had not yet musically experienced. On the other hand, we captured new lights with Bernstein’s West Side Story. Different musical genres are becoming increasingly universalized and intertwined. That is why we need to listen to different genres in order to create a new vision, as well as new concerts, program styles and projects.
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.
SP: We have also been working to increase the quality of music education in all of the kindergartens and elementary schools in Turkey with modern and creative educational programs, such as the “Carl Orff” system, which was accepted into curriculum at TEVITÖL High School, where we have been implementing the music lessons for the past six years alongside the Ministry of National Education. We wish to discover the future’s talented musicians at a young age, ensuring that they are trained in the best way possible, to develop a system that will present them with the opportunity to have a career on the world stage, and to see all of the infrastructure and instruments of each of our conservatories be updated. It is exceedingly important that all of our orchestras reach European standards. In the meantime, I was happy to be a jury member for the first International Piano Competition – Istanbul-Orchestra’Sion in Turkey this past November, organized by the Notre Dame de Sion School. It was exciting and educational to see young pianists from all over the world compete with Turkish pianists, and to have the works of five of our important composers be heard by international youth. Placing first and fifth, our two finalist pianists made us very proud.
Awarded to a Turkish artist every year since 2006, IKSV’s Honorary Award was presented to you last year. Could you share with us the importance of and your feelings as an artist upon receiving such an important award from your own country?
GP: Receiving IKSV’s award in 2013 brought us the joy of having the “language” reflecting the inner values, which we’ve been making an effort to share throughout our lives, be understood and accepted. The fact that we were awarded by an institution such as IKSV, which has been protecting these values with all its might and seriousness for 42 years, only deepened our happiness. When we look back, we see that such great happiness, the likes of which we’ve only felt a few times throughout different periods in our lives, was experienced alongside unprecedented pains in our country. The storm of “Gezi Park,” which was progressing during the time we received the award, opened great wounds in our hearts and minds. As artists, we are determined to continue to protect a positive outlook towards the future with all our might, without succumbing to the wrong emotions.
SP: Following the ceremony, having violinist Veriko Tchumburidze, one of the scholarship recipients from our “Young Musicians on World Stages” project, perform Waxman’s Carmen Fantasie with the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra (BIFO), conducted by Sascha Goetzel, touched us greatly, making the evening even more meaningful in our eyes. Having young cellist Dorukhan Doruk, who internationally placed first twice during his four years with our project, perform alongside BIFO, and under the direction of Gürer Aykal at the opening of this year’s festival is also another source of happiness for us. We are additionally grateful to IKSV and BIFO for supporting our young musicians through such important concerts.
Esra Açıkgöz , 04.10.2014
Hearing Colors, Seeing Sounds
Güher and Süher Pekinel’s latest album, “Hearing Colors, Seeing Sounds,” reverses the senses. They say “What determines the future is visual media, the internet. If we can’t catch this process, we won’t be able to see ahead.”
Güher and Süher Pekinel gave their first concert at age six. At nine years old they were playing alongside the Ankara Philharmonic. They fit 22 albums, thousands of concerts, and tens of awards into the years that followed. They’ve played with important orchestras all over the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Los Angeles Philharmonic, British Chamber Orchestra, French National Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic,… Now, they are back with their third international release. “Hearing Colors, Seeing Sounds,” is an album that reverses the senses. It is rooted in the distant past, in their childhood. Hence, they’ve said “Ever since we were little, the active unison of all the branches of art set us on an endless journey.”
The movement of painters’ union Blauer Reiter (The Blue Rider), founded in 1911 by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, had great influence on this album. They say, “This DVD could be called a musical documentary of intertwined past artistic and sociopolitical structures. A program that combines classical, impressionist, expressionist, and the beginnings of modernism while showing the flow of similarity and change between them.” Let’s let them tell us…
This album has a title that subverts ones habitual senses: “Hearing Colors, Seeing Sounds.”
This title is as important for those listening to the CD or watching the DVD, as it is for us. Even though they’ve both been released simultaneously, they awaken different emotions. Ever since we were little, the active unison of all the branches of art set us on an endless journey. For those of us who seek unity, this is simply part of an endless stream.
What kind of a relationship do you find exists between colors and sounds?
With thousands of years of evolution humanity has developed an inherent power over the suppositional. However, this can first and foremost be comprehended through personal development. It is impossible to develop the colors of music without hearing it within ourselves first. Even though the colors we discern while playing together are similar, we set off from different perceptions of shade. Mentally reviving his increasingly diminishing and dissolving sense of hearing in an abstract fashion through his internal sense of color and poly-phonic perception of sound, Beethoven would simultaneously put notes on paper by seeing it in some way. The sense of light Rembrandt created in his pieces while working under extremely low candle light is another example of this. The array that meets within Goethe, Scriabin, Delaunay, and Kandinsky’s color theories regarding sound is actually a natural formation bringing together different branches of art.
What is it about the Blauer Reiter movement that draws and affects you?
Hearing colors also encompasses seeing sounds. We were heavily influenced by two of Kandinsky’s books, “Punkt und Linie zu Fläche” (Point and Line to Plane) and “Das Geistige in der Kunst” (Concerning the Spiritual in Art), during our high school years. While this point of transformation for painting started around 1911 brought along important formations such as “Blauer Reiter” and “Bauhaus” in Germany, it was simultaneously preparing a foundation for diverse movements in need of innovation and new formations combining music, art, and literature in France. Although art history may have experienced its most rapid transitions during the Renaissance period, the changes reached today have always been present. What is important is how deeply an artist follows surrounding movements, and how they are influenced by and choose to relay them.
We know that you made use of your free time by painting while you were living in Munich between the years of 1970 and 1985…
At home, there was not only a deep interest in music, but also in painting, which, in time, turned to passion. Art lessons were among our favorites. Our deep interest in Kandinsky started during our time in Munich. The fact that after having moved into the Lenbachhaus with the ‘’Blauer Reiter’’ movement, the trio consisting of Kandinsky, Klee, and Franz Marc also formed a musical trio, directed us towards the constant events and seminars that were taking place in those days. We had also recorded the sonata-turned-concerto by Bartok, who was influenced by Kandinsky during this period, with two valuable percussionists of the Berlin and Munich Philharmonic orchestras. Later on, while at the Julliard School in New York, we’d spend our remaining free time on Saturdays at the “Student Art League” painting course. As the concerts began to accumulate, museums started to become our only escape and a place we could nourish our souls. We only later noticed that we had started to influence our managers in this direction. Even though they viewed it is an atypical request, this extra day that we’d spend after important concerts were highly productive. When we look back, we believe that all of the elements that came together to create this atmosphere are what brought us here today.
This is your third internationally released DVD. How did you create its contents?
First of all, what’s currently defining our future is visual media, the internet. If we can’t catch this process, we aware that, as musicians, it will become difficult for us to see ahead. A DVD is a great responsibility. Beyond documenting a program, it is also closely related to what message you want to send the world. We could call this DVD a musical documentary of intertwined past artistic and sociopolitical structures. A program that combines classical, impressionist, expressionist, and the beginnings of modernism while showing the flow of similarity and change between them. For example, the Debussy – Bartok relationship and the “Bartok, Infante, Saygun triangle” are all exceedingly interesting conjunctions. While Bartok, who was an ethnographer, was researching the development of Balkan folk music, he came to Turkey in 1936 and conducted research on Turkish folk music in Anatolia with Adnan Saygun; eventually selecting 67 of the close to 136 folk melodies and songs he collected and utilizing them in his compositions. As such, there is currently a Bartok museum in Turkey. Our DVD also contains an analysis that we personally wrote on this subject. In short, as with each of our DVD and CD’s, these special concerts were filmed in concert halls that were determined by us, through rigorous research conducted alongside world-famous firms Arthaus and Unitel and a great team. Meanwhile, the concert that was filmed for our DVD took place at a newly opened opera hall in Italy with fantastic acoustics to the accompaniment of Zubin Mehta and the Maggio Musicale orchestra.We utilize our experience for newcomers
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.
İlknur Atbaş , 12.10.2014
Hearing Colors, Seeing Sounds
Güher and Süher Pekinel’s new concert DVD “Zubin Mehta, Güher & Süher Pekinel In Concert” is now on shelves. Its theme is “Hearing Colors, Seeing Sounds.” We spoke to the Pekinel sisters about their symphony of colors giving voice to works inspired by the Blauer Reiter movement led by painter Wassily Kandinsky, assigning a note to each color.
What does it mean, “Hearing Sounds, Seeing Colors”? What was it that pushed you to think about and produce under this title?
Ever since the first ages of history, people have believed there is a connection between colors and music. In 1922, painter Wassily Kandinsky developed a form of synthesis that would allow him to work outside of the objective. Kandinsky’s aim was to hear colors and see sounds. In light of this goal, he created “color symphonies” out of “color sounds,” assigning a color to each note, developing a synthesis of painting and sound, spearheading this movement. What pushed us to think under this title is that we are two artists who display a different form of communication that aims to synthesize modernity and tradition in new templates outside of classical music. We mainly spend our time on our works that are compiled from projects that have been synthesized with new movements, so younger generations can internalize classical music with these different tastes as part of their own lives. We have observed that the musicians that we are supporting are also slowly starting to exhibit signs of this movement.
What kind of a relationship are you building between colors and sounds when you’re interpreting the pieces that are featured on the DVD?
There is a common neurological denominator in the perception of sounds and colors. Yet most of us don’t even notice this relationship throughout our lives. Some of us, however, aided by an interest in painting, like ourselves, feel this distinction quite clearly and transmit different shades of color by giving different emphases to sounds. In the way that the emotion represented by each color differs from one another, animating them via notation creates an equally different effect. Even if the colors we see are very similar, since we perceive and internalize these shades differently, and the reflection of our synergy creates a different taste for the listener.
While you were living in Munich, you spent most of your free time painting. How much of an effect did your interest in the art of painting have in shaping the Kandinsky-led Blauer Reiter movement’s influence on your work?
Yes, during our time in Munich we followed the art of painting closely and spent our time painting. We spent this time under the influence of abstract impressionism, which is closely associated with Kandinsky. Especially during our high school years, we were influenced by his two books, “Concerning the Spiritual in Art ” (1911) and “Point and Line to Plane” (1926). We also visited exhibitions and attended different seminars and events held at the Lenbachhaus Museum that housed the Art Academy and the Blauer Reiter Collection. These activities helped us renew and strengthen our imaginative faculties both musically and visually. We were able to capture the connection between colors and sounds within our conception due to our interest in various branches of art and our musical foundation. Our recording of the “Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion” for Teldec/Warner was also done during this same time, in 1987, influenced by our interest in Bartok. Similarly, our paintings “Sonata” and “The Harmony of Opposites” were also created during this time period.
OUR GOAL IS TO INTRODUCE TURKEY TO THE WORLD
“Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion” is a composition that bears traces of Bela Bartok’s trip to Turkey with Adnan Saygun in 1936. It is not very well known in Turkey… Was adding this piece to your repertoire a conscious choice?
Yes. In 1936, Bela Bartok visited Anatolian towns with Adnan Saygun in a horse and carriage. He then used 64 of the folk songs and ballads that he collected in his own work, and “Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion” become one of his best known pieces. Adding this piece to our repertoire was a conscious choice as our DVD will be sold world-wide and marketed globally. One of our goals has always been to ensure that Turkey is mentioned in all of these platforms and to introduce Turkey to the world. We touch upon this in detail in the analysis we personally wrote for the DVD booklet.
Taking the harmony you achieve while playing into account, can you both see the same colors and hear the same sounds while making music?
Aside from us being twins, the distinction of the harmony that we achieve together comes from the fact that the common ground of our life philosophies stems from music and art. Even though the primary colors are the same
, we are of the opinion that the shade that represents each individual is different. We worked with the same teacher for years in order to find and develop our own personalities, but we never listened to one another play and never played the same pieces, so as to not be under any influence. I think, as can be heard in our music, even though we both perceive the primary colors differently, over time, the harmony of unity creates a unique flow in our stage performance since we capture such similar shades.
OUR WORK HAS RECEİVED ITS RIGHTFUL RECOGNİTİON FROM TURKEY
We wholeheartedly believe that our work has now found its rightful place in Turkey as well. Receiving IKSV’s Honorary Award in 2013 brought us the joy and pride of being understood in our country. Our greatest desire is to ensure that the state of the Republic of Turkey provides the support that will allow our musicians to be commemorated alongside globally recognized names by reinstating the “superior talent statute” that was revoked 20 years ago.
Tunçel Gülsoy, July 2011
Jazz Magazine, Turkey
Even though you are twins, you are very different people. What have you learned from each other as individual musicians and artists? How have your personalities been similar or different over the years?
SP: Even though our family tried not to distinguish between us when we were young because we were twins, our individual personalities expressed themselves in one way or another. We worked with the same teachers since we were age ten, but we parted ways as soloists, which is actually one of the prerequisites of being a good duo.
As you know, your unique tone and interpretation is your personal signature that makes you who you are. Even though we are influenced by each other and our surroundings, you shape your development based on your instinct and experience.
In this regard, as a result of our development, our different styles create a synthesis when we work together, and the result is more powerful and unique. Balance and creativity are critical in this regard. One person can see a detail that the other person does not notice or consider important. Furthermore, we think that the unique benefit of being twins is the ability to produce a joint effort that is brand new because we look at it from different perspectives. In the end, the stage is an adventure that always poses risks we cannot predict. There is a very unique pleasure in creating and experiencing this adventure in one breath.
You point to the concept of “balance” as something you want your TEVİTÖL students to achieve.
GP: We believe that “balance” is one of the most important and common issues that we must focus on during the 21st century. In a world where consumerism and the Internet enslave us, we are all threatened by the increasingly limited ability to set our own internal clock and experience the richness of our own spirit. However, our internal balance is what makes us who we are.
Our goal is to help young people who will grow up to be the CEOs of the future to establish balance in their personalities when it comes to emotional intelligence. Our greatest desire is to help them establish their own emotional and intellectual balance by discovering, experiencing, directing and creating the creative energy inside them using art. All of them learn an instrument and give chamber music concerts and then continue these activities after they graduate; music in the university and in their social lives enables them to find more effective solutions to their problems, overcome stress more easily and feel happy, so we think that this is an indication that we are headed in the right direction.
From this perspective, how did you establish balance in your own lives? How have these different balances affected you as two sisters who play together?
SP: This question applies to us, but at a different level. Our life has always been full of music, where we find balance in being together, searching it out in our lives and putting it into practice. As we perform a piece of music in unison on the stage, one secret of balance is being ready to take any risk. In a sense, a clear balance consists of getting both lobes of our brain (thought and feeling) to work together. This is very important for art, which is food for the soul, and for music, which speaks to all of our emotions. In conclusion, we believe that balance is in one sense the key to happiness.
You are pioneering three important social responsibility projects. What was the inspiration for these projects?
GP: As you know, we are carrying out two projects in addition to the TEVİTÖL project we started four and a half years ago. The first project follows the philosophy I have described above. After four years of work, the music lesson has been integrated into the general curriculum and is graded like any other lesson. Our goal is for this to be implemented in all schools, like it used to be.
Our second project, “Young Talents on World Stages”, provides support for the future careers of young professional musicians by enabling them to study with the best musicians in Europe. By preparing them for international competitions with these teachers, this project will open a way for them to appear on international stages where they will be able to make a name for themselves.
Our third project is to use famous educator and composer Carl Orff’s system to bring music lessons back to kindergarten and primary schools and integrate them into the curriculum. It is well known that age 5 – 9 is when children’s memories soak up information like a sponge, making education most productive. The goal is for children to discover their creativity at that stage in their lives, so they can develop their ability to express themselves and become people with self-confidence and vision by means of the unifying and powerful influence of music. This method is being successfully implemented in many countries, where they are obtaining amazing results. For example, Finland, which has been ranked in first place for 12 years, has been using the ORFF system in its schools for a long time. Our goal and our desire is to implement this system in all schools.
What do you imagine for the next stage of your lives? Are there projects you want to do but have not been able to?
SP: In addition to continuing our musical career, we want to see these three projects we have started implemented in Turkey, and to help modern and universal values be achieved in music education. These are very difficult projects to carry out long term under the conditions we have in Turkey. Music education has been constantly re-examined and updated in Europe. Unfortunately, the Turkish system has been fossilized for 15 years and is not open to any innovation. We are working with all our might because we believe that these steps are very important. But if every musician is aware of their ethical and aesthetical responsibility and does their part, Turkey will make great progress in music education in a short period of time.
When you look at Turkey from the aspect of music, how full is the cup and how empty is it?
GP: First of all, there is a big problem with infrastructure when it comes to music in Turkey. The conservatories and the music high schools are unable to provide sufficient training, except for few groups of teachers. First of all, there is a large deficiency in teacher training in our country. Even though some graduates write theses that are not up to par, music schools sometimes ignore it and let them become faculty members anyway. Faculty members are delaying their retirement from the conservatories, which limits the opportunities for the younger generation. In addition, the high number of students accepted to the conservatories limits the ability for classes to be given in schools.
What is more, even though music lessons are supposed to be given at primary schools, they aren’t because of the lack of teachers and other reasons. In middle schools and high schools, music lessons are a 40 minute class given once a week, if at all, because often other classes are held in its place, and they are often taught by teachers from other disciplines who have not had musical training. As a result, we need to take new, visionary and intelligent steps in music education.
How is society affected by increasing the level of understanding and perception about music? Aside from the education given to students, how is it possible to increase the level of music in society?
GP: Everyone knows that not only does music appeal to all of our emotions, it also helps us to conceptualize and develop ethical and aesthetical values and makes people happy by lifting our spirits. What is more, music is used to appeal to us all the time, everywhere. We are surrounded by music, whether it is media, social communication, advertisements or human relationships. What is important is to listen to good music that appeals to our emotions and helps us to listen to our inner voice, and using it to make life more meaningful. In this regard we believe that to raise our view of quality, all music programs (not just the classical music programs on the radio and visual media) need to be more selective and conscientious about the music used.
In order to avoid the kind of music pollution that results from playing any kind of music without passing it through a musical filter, we need people who have proven musical experience to choose the right pieces based on their awareness of high quality music; they need to draw the listener in by sometimes providing educational information. By finding a balance between the best compositions of the past and contemporary ones, it will be possible to reach a broad, long-lasting audience. This is valid for any kind of music. You can’t assume that everyone will understand or enjoy world music or jazz. A certain level of experience is necessary to understand the value of this kind of music.
In a country where people generally make do with what is given to them and where education is not sufficiently developed, it is too much to expect the listeners to do research and inform themselves. In this regard, all the responsibility is borne by those who are in control. Most of the authorities who are making decisions do not have the academic background required by their professions in this field. If we do not invest in this infrastructure, we may be left far behind other countries that are doing so in this rapidly advancing age of science.
We must not forget that a well-educated generation will solve this problem based on their expectations, and they will be more in touch with art. This will help us to be a society that is more tolerant, balanced and happy.
What did you gain for yourselves in your music from your friendship and cooperation with Jacques Loussier? What did he learn from you for his unique path?
SP: First of all, we benefited greatly from meeting Jacques. He is an artist with an incredible range of experience who lets life happen naturally, who is at peace with himself yet knows how to make fun of himself. He is funny, open to innovation, never loses control, motivates musicians in every way and expects a lot from himself.
As someone who received classical music education in the Paris conservatory, he is a rare musician who intelligently combines two worlds.
We learned from him how we can internalize a free method, the specific tones that are unique to jazz on the piano, the specific limits in improvisation and the codes for timing needed when playing with his trio.
As for him, the hundreds of questions we asked when we were together may have made him excited about certain topics. He had already studied every epoch of music, but we could say that after this project, he started to adapt classical music from other epochs besides Bach into jazz, and even started to play Mozart piano concertos with orchestra accompaniment. Anyways, the fact that we outnumbered him two to one must have influenced him somehow!
Paintings, theatre and music: what kind of holistic effect do these three branches of art have on a person’s development as a human and an individual?
GP: It is impossible to think of these three branches distinctly because they are interwoven. Therefore, each of them has developed through processes in which they were influenced by each other.
For example, the periods of expressionism, impressionism, cubism and so on developed in parallel in music and theatre. They influenced each other, creating new movements. They faced critics because of their forward thinking, but kept on track and were able to integrate their visionary perspectives into the social environment.