She is a successful woman, who would rather notate the things she desires to say instead of using words. She is a pianist, who has achieved considerable success in her youth. Music is the easiest, the most honest and the clearest expression method for her… An unusual story, from the first time that she met the piano at 5 years old to the time the “Gumusluk International Classical Music Festival” was revealed, and Eren Levendoglu…
How did music come into your life? When did you first meet the piano?
Music is a process requiring massive energy and time. In the first grade, my music teacher discovered how good my voice was and took me to the choir. I took violin and cello lessons. It was great luck of mine that my piano teacher came into my life in those years. Serious discipline and attention... She had a great effect on my success. I took lessons from her for 12 years.
My family always supported me. I was taking violin lessons every day of the week. Meanwhile, there were competitions, concerts and rehearsals... I have appeared in concerts in Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and various places in Turkey.
How did the Gumusluk Festival idea come up?
The adventure, which had started in the historical place, Eklisia, as a small piano festival in 2004, turned into an international music festival the following year.
A former chapel, which had been used as a house of culture and art in Gumusluk since 1989, had attracted my attention. It was 2003, I was thinking about going back to London in order to continue my education. “What if I would not go there but the teachers came to Bodrum?” I asked myself. I know it may sound like a selfish and ambitious idea but I did not want that only for myself. I wished artists from around the world to meet and teach students here and perform concerts.
I needed a piano and bought it in Istanbul. I had not thought about how to take it to Bodrum. We had a deal with a shipping company for that, however, they dropped it down while lifting. One day, I met a pianist on the beach and told him about the story of the piano. He arranged a good tuner for it, said that the pianist Gulsin Onay had been living in Yalikavak and gave me her phone number. In fact, my father had already been acquainted with Mrs. Onay. I called her and we organised a meeting. We created the festival idea in half an hour while having tea. It had been a wonderful meeting for me. That is how the Gumusluk Classical Music Festival was born. With musicians from all over the world and Turkish musicians met in Gumusluk and the intercultural bridge was established.
Every year, about 10-15 thousands of guests have had the opportunity to watch the concerts in the Orthodox chapel, Eklisia, which has a history of 400 years.
In time, the Gumusluk International Classical Music Festival was held at the “Ancient Stone Quarry” used in the construction of the Mausoleum, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and which enables one thousand people to enter as the audience. The musicians who participated in the concerts during the festival opened master classes and gave master classes to young musicians. To date, the festival has hosted 750 artists from 30 countries.
The festival invites fans of classical music to the concerts organised under three titles, "On Stone", classical music concerts, "On Water", jazz music concerts, and "On Sand", concerts by the master class students of Gumusluk Festival Academy.
This year, music artists from the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Norway, Israel, Iran, Ireland and Turkey will be performing throughout the festival.
How did you decide to live in Gumusluk?
I graduated from the “Royal Schools of Music, London” after 7 years of conservatory education. Especially for the first 3 years, it had been very difficult; anyway, I graduated with a good degree. The rivalry at the conservatory is very high, and I think it has a negative impact on creativity. After graduation, I decided to choose another way and that was Gumusluk for me. Gumusluk is one of the most beautiful places in the world. First, I came for a holiday and then, decided to live here. When I settled in 2003, it used to be so calm and everyone used to know each other. It was just like a big family. Now, it is too crowded.
Would you share an important memory of yours with us?
The recital, I played for a high school graduation after 12 months of preparation, is very meaningful for me. It was in a small neighbourhood and in an old church. There was an amazingly peaceful atmosphere and it was a special concert. It was so emotional that even a few people were crying while leaving.
What things have made you say “fortunately”?
My daughter Pia...
What are your goals for the future?
I want a peaceful life. I would like to give the music more play in my life. I have given moving back to London some thought. Due to my daughter’s education, I live in Gumusluk between March and October and in Zimbabwe in winter. It has not been easy to manage the festival from there. I think that London would be better for me and my job.
What do you do in Zimbabwe?
Two years ago, I started a series of concerts. I made great connections with artists from all over the world. We organise a concert every month as part of the project, Twelve. Its name stands for “twelve months/twelve artists/twelve instruments”.
Who is Eren Levendoglu?
She, born in London, is the daughter of Ahmet Levendoglu, who is a theatre actor. Taking piano, violin and singing lessons; she started her music education in Zimbabwe, where she settled in 1983. At the age of 14, she became the most promising musician under 18 in the national music competition organised by The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, England.
After 1995, she continued her music studies at the University of Cape Town. In 1999, she moved to London to continue her studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 2003, she graduated with the second best degree of that year. The same year, she settled in Turkey and put the Gumusluk International Classical Music Festival into practice.