Young Talents on the World Stage: On Stage With Güher & Süher Pekinel

Filiz Ali, December 2011

The renowned philosophers of the ancient world, Plato and Socrates, said that music and sports were essential priorities in the education of a statesman. This was because “music” cultivated the soul and “sports” nurtured the body. A child who would be a statesman was not only to develop his body but also improve his mind and soul by internalizing music, learning also how to speak well, tell a story, excel in oratory and most important, in how to think. Remaining loyal to the teachings of Socrates and Plato, mankind has benefited from both music and sports over the centuries. Music is not only for children who aspire to be statesmen, but for nurturing the souls of all children around the world.{…}

On October 11th, there was a very special concert at the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall. The title of the concert was Young Musicians on World Stages with Güher and Süher Pekinel. This was a concert which was a first trial run in front of an audience for one of the three projects implemented by the Pekinels since 2006. In 1948, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey enacted a law to ensure that gifted children obtained the best education, but by the time the 2000s arrived, these talented children were all but forgotten by the State and music, art and culture were neglected. Today, Güher and Süher Pekinel are the first to come to mind among those who recognize the vital importance of training musically gifted children. The Pekinels have started to campaign for music education, just like the State was doing before it gave up on the cause over time, and embarked upon three different but complementary projects to this end. A fourth project is on its way.

I would like to touch upon the first two projects in this article. Winding back the time, we would see that the Pekinels started off on this adventure upon an invitation they received in 2006 from the Turkish Education Foundation’s İnanç Türkeş Private High School (TEVİTÖL). The Pekinels were so impressed with the training the highly gifted children selected from all over Turkey were receiving at TEVİTÖL that they decided to open a music department at the school. Significantly, the Pekinels took on not only the administration of the department but also it’s financing. They began to transfer the revenues from their concerts into this project. The great success that the students achieved under this new direction encouraged the school administration to secure resources for the project as well and the department was included in the curriculum designated by the Ministry of National Education. Selecting teachers for the music school and managing the program with the same meticulous care with which they conduct their careers on a worldwide scale, the Pekinels achieved surprising results in that within four and a half years, 200 children had learned to play one or several musical instruments at concert performance level.

The second project for the Pekinels was the “G&S Pekinel Young Talents on the World Stage” scholarship program. Sponsored by Onduline Avrasya, auditions were held for young people studying at all of the conservatories in Turkey. The goal was to have a jury choose ten young people who would be given the opportunity to work with the world’s leading musicians and teachers; much like the opportunity provided to İdil Biret with the “Gifted Children Law” enacted in 1948, aimed at ensuring that the budding pianist would work with such great musicians as Nadia Boulanger, Alfred Cortot and Wilhelm Kempff. Today it appears that this support is not forthcoming from the State and the private sector has to take on this responsibility. In short, what the State did 60 years ago with a surprising degree of foresight now has to be supported by individuals and private organizations.

All the talents together

On the evening of October 11, 2011, there were 10 young musicians, selected by the Pekinels and the jury and sponsored by Onduline Avrasya, on the familiar stage of the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall. These young talents who were reaching out into the world were: Violoncellist Dorukhan Doruk, a graduate of Mimar Sinan University State Conservatory and now at the College of Music, Cologne; Pianist Yunus Tuncalı from Bilkent, currently studying at the Koninklijk Conservatory in Brussels; Violoncellist Yusuf Çelik from Mersin University State Conservatory, now studying under Alexander Baillie at the Bremen College of Music; Pianist Eren Aydoğan, from Istanbul University State Conservatory, now studying at the Mehta-Buchmann Music School in Tel Aviv; Violinist Kıvanç Tire, a graduate of Hacettepe University State Conservatory, now studying in Leipzig at the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy College of Music. We also have two clarinet artists–Ege Banaz from İzmir and a graduate of 9 Eylül University State Conservatory. He was accepted to Edgar Varése Conservatory in Paris. Our second clarinetist is Yağızcan Keskin, also from İzmir. He is studying with Ender Gülenler at 9 Eylül University State Conservatory. The youngest of the talents is violinist Elvin Hoxha, born in Ankara in 1997. Elvin’s father is a musician as well. Elvin is currently at Bilkent University Music Preparatory Primary School and also studies under a scholarship with the famous violinist Prof. Zakhar Bron at the Zurich School of Music. Born in Adana in 1996, Veriko Tchumburidze is in 9th grade at Mersin University State Conservatory and studies with her mother Lili Tchumburidze, but also takes lessons from the world-famous violin teacher Prof. Dora Schwarzberg from the Vienna College of Music.

The concerts were repeated on October 12 in Ankara at Bilkent and on October 13 in Izmir at the Sabancı Cultural Center. An outstanding Bravo to the philanthropic individuals who made it possible to train, in the best way possible, these young talents who deserve every cent of the investment!

Note: The above is an excerpt from Filiz Ali’s article in the December 2011 issue of the magazine Milliyet Sanat. For the complete article, please go to