Umut Orchestra at Bellapais
By Margaret Sheard
I had previously seen a small group of musicians play at various Tulips events which at that time consisted of 5 players and was called Grup Umut. Recently this has extended to an orchestra of 25 players and they have now performed together on three occasions.
So it was with great enthusiasm that I went along to Bellapais Abbey on Saturday 4th May to see a concert performed by the Umut Orchestra. What a brilliant evenings music we enjoyed by such a talented group of young people. There are 25 members in the orchestra and we recognised some of the original Grup Umut, Gökhan Gökberk who plays the flute, his sister Gönűl who plays guitar and Ahmet Gűvenler who plays violin, it was so nice to meet up with them again.
We were greeted by Raziye Kocaismail the founder of Help Those with Cancer Association (Tulips) who works so hard for cancer sufferers. The Minister of National Education, Youth and Sports, Mutlu Atasayan, was also present to enjoy the concert. There was a speech by Gökhan Gökberk and this was followed by Raziye Kocaismail who made a presentation to the Minister, who then addressed the audience.
The concert then started and the programme consisted of 14 pieces. After the first 5 pieces played by the orchestra a young lady came onto the stage and started to sing, very quietly at first then we could not believe the sound she produced, what a superb voice she had. This was Gűler Özgencil and during the interval I discovered she is only 17 years of age. Gűler was born in Lefkoşa in 1995 and has been singing for about 5 years, for the past 3 years she has been receiving voice coaching. We were treated to another folk song in the first half and another in the second half of the concert.
After the first 7 pieces there was a short interval and we were able to mingle with the audience and seek out some familiar faces. I spoke to the conductor of the orchestra, this was Murat Menket who said he had been associated with the orchestra for around 6 months, it is very new and he enjoys working with the members of the orchestra. Murat was born in Nicosia in 1988 and has been associated with music for the last 15 years, he plays both the oboe and piano. He is currently in the Army and is also a conductor with the Army Band.
We then settled down to hear the second half of the programme and before long the music I had been waiting to hear started, this was La Malagueňa and the piece Gönűl Gökberk plays brilliantly, I was near to tears when I first saw the Youtube video and seeing her play live on stage was such a pleasure, her facial expressions and smiles said it all.
Later in the second half we had another solo from Ahmet Gűvenler who played the Theme from Schindler’s List. During the interval he had said he was feeling very stressed and I expect it was in anticipation of his solo, but he gave an excellent performance and proved what a brilliant violinist he is.
This really was a concert well worth attending. It was in aid of the Hope Education and Culture Centre in Lefkoşa which is a facility set up by Help Those with Cancer Association (Tulips) to give young cancer sufferers a place to continue their education and skills in an understanding and friendly environment.
After the concert I was delighted to meet once again Bahar Gökhan who I first met at a Tulips Race Day in Lefkoşa a couple of years ago, and I subsequently wrote a newspaper article about her. Bahar is a staunch supporter of Tulips and many of her concerts are in aid of the charity. Bahar she said she would sing a Turkish folk song for me so there and then in Bellapais Abbey, Bahar sang a traditional folk song, I was thrilled to say the least, so thank you Bahar for singing to me in the Abbey, I will never forget that lovely moment.
Raziye Kocaismail told me that she is very excited at the possible prospect of the orchestra going to London and the Minister of Finance, Ersin Tatar, is negotiating with Turkish Airlines to try and obtain complimentary seats for the orchestra to make this trip. What a wonderful thing this will be for the orchestra if this visit can be achieved, so we will keep our fingers crossed that they will be able to go and show how much talent there is in North Cyprus.