After a whirlwind spring, an exciting summer beckons

Dear friends and music lovers,

The first 5 months of the year have passed like a whirlwind, and I am amazed and happy to look back over the events so far: nine solo recitals in Turkey, Italy, France and the UK – 6 concerts with orchestra playing four different concertos – and 13 duo recitals with my wonderfully talented violinist son Erkin Onay, including a recital tour in Germany, together with a recording session for our first CD together, to include sonatas by Elgar and Mozart. On top of that, I have found time to give masterclasses and serve on competition juries, listening to and teaching the talents of the future!

The summer months bring two exciting concerts alongside with the amazing Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra playing Mozart's Piano Concerto no.12: one in the Istanbul Music Festival, the other the opening concert of the Izmir Festival, Then recitals in Réunion Island, in Manchester at the renowned Chetham's Music School, where I also give a week of masterclasses as part of their International Piano Summer School, and a recital and two concerto performances in the beautiful Azores.

And of course July brings the 21st year of the Gümüşlük International Festival. It has been an enormous joy to be the Festival's Artistic Advisor since its very beginning, and with my dear friend and Festival Director Eren Levendoǧlu, have prepared another packed programme of concerts and studying opportunities. I am hugely looking forward to performing in the Festival and giving masterclasses – it is a unique opportunity to connect closely with fellow artists, aspiring students and our cherished audiences, all in the service of music which we hold so dear.

I look forward to seeing you somewhere in the months to come. In the meantime, I wish you a joyous summer, full of music!

Festival, competitions and a new video

Dear friends and music lovers,

All of us in Turkey and around the world were shocked by the terrible earthquake in Turkey and Syria on 6 February, leading to the tragic loss of nearly 60,000 lives and enormous damage and homelessness. In the months since, much of my artistic endeavours have been directed towards raising funds to support the survivors of the earthquake. To this end, in March and April I have given recitals and concerts with orchestra in Turkey (in Ankara, Bursa, Eskişehir, Izmir and Mersin) and England (in Cambridge and Manchester) in aid of the earthquake relief, some in my rôle as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Today I write from Astana in Kazakhstan, where I am on the jury of the "Eurasian Stars" international piano competition. Congratulations to the first prizewinner Salih Can Gevrek who, along with the other prizewinners will qualify for the 2024 Dubai International Piano Competition. From here I travel to Istanbul, where I will perform Saygun's 1st Piano Concerto with the great Hungarian violinist and conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy. It is always a pleasure to perform this work with a new conductor, and we are both looking forward to a very special musical occasion, celebrating the friendship and collaboration of Saygun and Bartók, whose Concerto for Orchestra is the other work in the programme.

In recent weeks I have been performing Rachmaninoff's 3rd Piano Concerto, in this year celebrating the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth, with English maestro Timothy Redmond and with the Turkish conductor Gürer Aykal, along with concerts in the Ankara Festival, in Istanbul and Cambridge, and master classes at the legendary Chetham's School of Music in Manchester.

The coming weeks continue to be filled with varied activities and travel - at the "Gülsin Onay" piano festival and competition in İzmir I will chair the competition jury and give the closing recital, followed by a recital tour in Germany, France and Belgium, masterclasses at the Brussels Conservatory, a concert in the Istanbul Music Festival, and a recital tour in the north of England, among others. July brings masterclasses and another competition in Chieta, Italy, and the opening of the Gümüşlük International Music Festival in the Bodrum peninsula. Don't miss the wonderful concerts in a unique setting in this festival, which artistic director Eren Levendoǧlu and I have been organising now for 21 years.

Before signing off I'd like to share with you my latest live video, of Ravel's "Gaspard de la nuit" (YouTube link) from my recital at Notre Dame de Sion Lycee. At the beginning of my career, I was awarded the "Prix Ravel" in the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud competition for my performance of this work, and ever since it has had a very special place in my repertoire - I hope you enjoy it!

Wishing you every joy and peace in music,

Gülsin Onay

Spring 2023

Dear friends and music lovers,

The coming few months will be full of travel and music, and I hope wherever you are, you can join me to share some of these varied events.

After a welcome holiday break, 2023 began with recitals in Istanbul and Ankara, the latter in the Emre Şen Music Academy in Ankara, which under the guidance of Turkish pianist and teacher Emre Şen supports the development of musical talent through seminars, concerts, masterclasses and other events. I am happy to be be sharing my musical experiences with young musicians in my master class there on 22 January.

After the restrictions on stage numbers in the pandemic, it is wonderful to be back playing with full-scale orchestras again, and the following week I will play one of my favourite works, Rachmaninoff's 3rd Piano Concerto, in Adana with the Çukurova State Symphony Orchestra and the wonderful British conductor Timothy Redmond. Immediately afterwards I will be on the jury of the Rhapsody Piano Competition, also in Adana.

In February I will perform the Saint-Säens 2nd Piano Concerto with the Eskişehir Municipality Symphony Orchestra and conductor Ender Sakpınar, leading into a very busy month of March, with recitals in Bursa, Pamukkale, Ankara and Istanbul, two concerto performances, and masterclasses in Bursa and Manchester, at the famous Chetham's School of Music. The following months will see concerts in Belgium, France, Germany, England and Turkey, as well as masterclasses, and serving on the jury of competitions in Turkey and Kazakhstan. More news to follow!

Gülsin Onay

Summer festivals and a new season beginning

Dear friends and music lovers,

A busy summer comes to an end, and a new season begins.

After a short recital tour in Germany, where I performed in Heidelberg, Munich and Berlin, I returned to Turkey for the opening of our wonderful Gümüşlük Festival and Academy, now in its 19th year. Then came two weeks of masterclasses in July and August, and a recital in the festival at the Zefirya Cultural Centre, one of a pair of recitals I gave in Bodrum with my good friend the Turkish music writer Serhan Bali, who provided fascinating oral introductions and explanations of the works. I also managed a visit to Bayburt, in the remote eastern part of Turkey, for a concert at the award-winning Kenan Yavuz Ethnography Museum.

At the end of the month it was to Italy, for a recital in the "Piano Summer" Festival in Nardo, in Puglia. From there I travelled directly to Ponta Delgarda in the magnificent Azores, which despite its remoteness has seen some of the greatest musicians in history perform there. I gave the closing recital of the 17th Azores Music Festival. Both there and in Nardo I was overwhelmed by the extraordinary warmth and gratitude I received from the audience, many of them musicians. I share with you just a couple of the messages I received afterwards: "I was really impressed with your concert, which reminded me of the great pianists I loved in my youth. It is difficult to hear Chopin played with such depth and freedom today" — "You transported me through incredible feelings, some of them I thought I had forgotten". You can see a video of my performance in Ponta Delgarda on my YouTube channel here.

Now I am back in Bodrum, to give the closing concert of the Gümüşlük Festival on 14 September, where I will play Mozart's A major Piano Concerto K414 with the Bilkent Youth Symphony Orchestra and their conductor Işın Metin, in the magical setting of the Ancient Stone Quarry in Koyunbaba. From there I travel to Antalya, to perform again Mozart in the ancient city of Phaselis in the opening concert of the 2022 Phaselis Festival on 19 September. After that the autumn season begins in earnest, with concerts in Istanbul and many other cities in the coming couple of months.

Stay safe and enjoy an autumn of beautiful music!

With my very best wishes,

Gülsin Onay

Music in the spring!

Dear friends and music lovers,
A month has passed in the shadow of war, where music and common sense were our only guides.  Now, with curious eyes, we wait for spring to decorate the tree branches and leave music and joy in our hearts.
I continue with a busy programme in our first long-awaited post-pandemic concert season. March finished with sold-out concerts in the south-east of Turkey: a recital in Gaziantep and a concert in Mersin, where I played Chopin's 2nd Piano Concerto with the Mersin State Opera and Ballet Orchestra and the wonderful conductor Naci Özguç.
The coming month starts with a now annual fixture, the İhsan Doğramacı Memorial Concert on 3 April with Bilkent Symphony Orchestra in Ankara, celebrating the life of the founder of Bilkent University in Ankara, who devoted his life to education, medicine and philanthropy.  This year I play Chopin's 2nd Piano Concerto, with Gürer Akyal conducting.
Other concerto engagements this month are on 24 April in Izmir with Yörglas Children's Orchestra, and on 28 April with Bursa State Symphony Orchestra.  It is a great pleasure to be back on stage with a conductor and large group of musicians, who have spent the last 2 years waiting patiently to be able to return to normal performances!
In between, I have masterclasses in Bilkent on 5-6 April, in Eskişehir on 16-17 April and in Istanbul on 20 and 22 April, together with charity recitals on 8 April in Istanbul and 9 April in Izmir, and a further recital on 18 April in Eskişehir. In the last of these I will be joined on stage by one of my students, the very young talent Ilyun Bürkev. She and another talented student, Tuna Bilgin, also share the stage with me in a recital "Gülsin Onay and Students" in the 17th Bellapais Spring Music Festival on 25 April, which takes place in the magical setting of Ballapais Abbey in North Cyprus.
After a recital in the Notre Dame de Sion concert series in Istanbul on 21 April, I round off the month with a recital in the famous Pera Palace Hotel.
May promises to be equally busy, with concerts in Portugal, England and Turkey, along with a series of masterclasses at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
Wishing you joy and peace in music,

Gülsin Onay

Back to normal (inşąllah!) and two new CDs

Dear friends and music lovers,

After another long period without concerts, Summer 2021 has ushered in a welcome restart to live performances. In June I resumed touring for the first time in many months, with 3 recitals in Portugal, recitals in Nardo, Italy and at the International Ohrid Festival in North Macedonia, as well as acting in the jury of the Bremen European Piano Competition, and a busy programme in Turkey of concerto and recital performances and masterclasses. In August we successfully mounted a full programme at the Gümuşlük Music Fesival, now in its 18th year. Hopefully as we move into autumn and winter we will continue to enjoy live music!

This summer also brings the release of two new CDs.  My second Beethoven CD “Moonlight”, including the Moonlight, Les Adieux and Op.109 sonatas, recorded at Istanbul Süreyya Opera House in January, was released in June by Lila Müzik, and can be found on all the usual digital channels, as well as in physical CD form. And my long-awaited recording of the piano concertos by Ulvi Cemal Erkin and Aram Khachaturian, with the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Jose Serebrier, has just been released on the Aldila Records label. This is the first commercial recording of the Erkin concerto, and will be available very soon for purchase or download. Depending on your location, you can already preorder the CD here or here.

With my best wishes for the coming season,

Gülsin Onay




Final concerts of 2020

Dear friends and music lovers,

As we approach the end of 2020, we have to be grateful for the small musical pleasures we have been able to enjoy over the last 9 months.  As artistic activity slowed to a virtual standstill, a few online concerts and outdoor events have given us some musical sustenance.

Earlier this month I gave a live recital in Bilkent Concert Hall, with a restricted audience and YouTube livestream, in which I played 2 great Beethoven sonatas – the Pathétique and Waldstein sonatas – together with Bartók's 7 Sketches op.9b and 5 preludes from Saygun's op.45.  The concert is archived on my channel and you can watch it again here.

I finish the year with another live recital, this time in Istanbul's beautiful Süreyya Opera House, to mark the end of the Beethoven year. I will play 3 Beethoven sonatas: "Moonlight", "Les Adieux" and his wonderful late sonata in E major, Op.109. The first half of the concert livestream is now available to watch on my YouTube channel at this page, and the rest of the stream will be uploaded soon.

With my best wishes,

Gülsin Onay



Summer Season in Coronavirus Days

Dear Friends and Music Lovers,

My Sunday concerts on social media will now be taking a summer break. This week I travel to Bodrum for one of the first concerts with orchestra to take place in Turkey since March. On Friday 3 July, I play Mozart's Piano Concerto in A K414 with the Izmir State Symphony Orchestra and conductor Hakan Şensoy in the historic open-air setting of Bodrum Castle. Despite social distancing, this breakthrough event is going to be an emotional experience for performers and audience alike.  In the coming weeks — coronavirus permitting — we plan to begin concerts for the Gümüşlük Festival in its fabulous historic venue, the Antique Stone Quarry just outside Gümüşlük.

If you missed any of my June concerts, you can catch up on my YouTube channel (where all the Sunday concerts from the end of March onwards are archived).

I hope it won't be long before we can see each other again in "real" concerts, and I am already making exciting plans for the coming season. In the meantime, look out for more live streamed events which I'll be announcing on social media!

Gülsin Onay

Live Music in Coronavirus Days — May 2020

Dear Friends and Music Lovers,

I have had unimaginable positive feedback from watchers of my live Sunday concerts. Last Sunday's concert has so far had tens of thousands of views across social media. I feel honoured and privileged to bring live music to so many people in this difficult times, and thank you all for your support.

I continue my series of Sunday concerts, taking place  at 18:00 GMT (21:00 Turkish local time), and streamed in real time as I play, simultaneously to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Here are the dates for the coming month, along with the main works:

3 May:  Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit"

10 May: Chopin programme, to include the 2nd and 3rd Ballades

17 May: Debussy, featuring Book II of "Images"

24 May: Beethoven's last sonata op.111 in C minor

31 May: Bach, to include the Italian Concerto.



Live Music in Coronavirus Days

How a few weeks have overturned so many things we have taken for granted in the world -and the impact on the lives of musicians and their audiences has been enormous. At the beginning of March we started to write my newsletter describing the various Spring projects I was undertaking – but as we were writing, concerts and tours have been cancelled everywhere. Like all musicians I am confined to home with no opportunity for public performance.

So now to my Sunday series of live online concerts, now in its sixth week.  This coming Sunday (19 April) I will be playing Franck’s Prélude Chorale et Fugue, and the performance is a special promotion for the 2020 Gümüşlük Music Festival, which we are still hoping to run in August of this year. As usual, the performance begins at 18:00 GMT (21:00 Turkish local time), simultaneously on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. See the post below for the the links. Please tune in and enjoy!