Audiences bewitched by composer's music
Tuluyhan Ugurlu is one Turkey's leading composers of classical music and pianists. He holds concerts in historical sites in the country, including Mount Nemrut.
By Metin Demirsar
Istanbul (Dunya) – Tuluyhan Ugurlu captivates audiences with his mix of music composed of sounds garnered from Anatolian civilizations and classical melodies.
When he performed at the busy Yonge-Dundas Square in central Toronto, in Canada, in August 2010, thousands of pedestrians gathered to watch him and listen to his music. Motorists stopped their vehicles and got out of their cars, and a hush took over the square.
"It was as if the entire city had come to a halt. It was one of the most memorable experiences in my life," the 47-year-old composer and pianist said in an interview in a coffeehouse by the Bosphorus. "I enjoy performing in the streets amidst the people."
But the barrel-chested Mr. Ugurlu, who has dark mane of hair, also has a knack for holding concerts in historic sites of Turkey.
Last Saturday, he performed his "Orient Express" concerto at the Sirkeci Railway Station in Istanbul before hundreds of music enthusiasts. The 1.5-hour concerto was about the history of trains in Turkey and the world, and is performed with a film on trains.
When he performed the same concerto on the steps of the Haydarpasa Train Terminal last summer, enthusiasts sat in motorboats to listen to him play the piano.
Mr. Ugurlu plans to make an album of the concerto in 2013. He also wants to make an album from his music "Temple of the East," which blends the religious sounds from the ancient Middle East with the music of the Stonehenge, King Solomon, the St. Sophia Basilica in Istanbul, and the Muslim world.
"The music contains messages to bring peace unify peoplearound the world ," he said.
He has also performed a concerto on the Trojan Wars among the ruins of Troy, in northwest Turkey, and played his ‘Anatolia: the Sun Country'at the top of 2150 meter (6,665 foot) Mount Nemrut, with a group of musicians, among the huge animal and human figurines of the ancient Commegene Kingdom.
On August 2005, he performed with his piano on the top of the 1,743 meter (5,403 foot) Kocatepe Mountain, in western Anatolia, to celebrate Turkey's victory over the invading Greek army in 1922.
Mr. Ugurlu was born in Istanbul in 1965 of a mother who played the piano and a poet father. He could read music notes and play the piano at the age four, long before he learned the alphabet.
When his parents realized their son was musically talented, they took him to Cemal Resit Rey (1904-1985), Turkey's best known composer of musicals and operettas, and he was admitted to the Istanbul Conservatory of Music as a child.
He was declared a child music genius at the age of seven and benefitted from state support given to musically gifted children.
He was going to both the conservatory and regular school.
"While my school mates were playing in the streets, I would be studying piano at the conservatory," Mr. Ugurlu said.
After graduating from the conservatory, he entered the Vienna Music Academy on a scholarship, and lived in Austria for 16 years before returning to Turkey permanently in 1996.
He was already giving piano concerts, travelling round the world at the age of 17 while his fellow students were studying Mozart, Beethoven and Shostakovich.
"I was earning enough money from concerts," he added.
He has given concerts in many cities in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. He gives around 105 concerts a year, sometimes twice a day.
While he was working on his MA in music in Vienna, he bought the record ‘Gulda Plays Gulda,' the original music of Frederic Gulda (1930-2000), a jazz pianist who was also one of the greatest interpreters of Mozart.
"I said to myself if there is a ‘Gulda plays Gulda', why can't there be a ‘Ugurlu plays Ugurlu.' I decided then a there that I would compose my and perform my own music," Mr. Ugurlu said.
He composed the music ‘Go with God' and ‘Verses from the Holy Books, as part of his deep interest in religion.
In 1996, he composed the score for ‘Istanbul Under My Wings,' a movie about Hezarfen Celebi, a 17th century Ottoman daredevil who flew from the top of the Galata Bridge across the Bosphorus to Uskudar in a primitive hang-glider, becoming the first man to fly.
He also composed music the symphony ‘Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his Silver Soldiers' for 75th the anniversary of the Turkish Republic. His ‘Tears of the City' commemorates the 20,000 Turks killed in the August 1999 Marmara earthquake.