By Margaret Sheard …

The Royal British Legion, Kyrenia Branch, had been endeavouring to arrange a Band Concert in North Cyprus for some 6 months and had succeeded with a concert at Bellapais Abbey on the 14th May when a large audience enjoyed the music of the Band of the Security Forces Command.

What a fantastic evening of music we had from the 27 members of the Band and the two conductors – Fatih Erdoğdu and Murat Menket, plus the voice of tenor Umut Erten.

The evening started with an introduction, in both English and Turkish, by Fikri Toros who welcomed the audience to the Band Concert which had been brought to the Abbey with the kind permission of the Commander of the Security Forces, Brigadier Tevfik Algan.

He went on to say :

“The Committee and members of the Royal British Legion Kyrenia Branch, a registered charity here in the TRNC, are delighted to host their first ever Band Concert since their official inauguration in October 2011.

The Branch Chairman Major Brian Thomas, and Vice-Chairman Mr Les Evans (an ex Royal Marines Bandsman) in particular are immensely proud that this event is finally taking place this evening after much work behind the scenes over the last 6 months under the generous sponsorship of Azant Emlak (Real Estates).

There can be no better venue in the TRNC than Bellapais Abbey where we are gathered this evening, and I am delighted to tell you that the Director of the Band has put together a varied and imaginative line-up for your enjoyment this evening, as a glance at the programme will tell you. So please relax and enjoy the fabulous acoustics in this beautiful Abbey.

The proceeds from program sales will go towards the 2018 Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal which aims to offer welfare support to both serving and ex-servicemen together with their spouses from the expat community as well as the veterans of the Cyprus Regiment.    There will also be a substantial donation to the Turkish Armed Forces Solidarity Foundation.

I would now ask you to please stand for the Opening Ceremony as the Turkish Army Standards are marched in to the National Anthem, followed by the Royal British Legion Standards to the RBL March”.

So the concert started, the music was so stirring as the Band played marches, and other music including a collection of Beatles music, this was followed by an intermission and when we returned we enjoyed a British Medley, and a selection of music from “Wicked”, amongst many others.  Then came a big surprise from the rear of the Refectory, as a lone tenor appeared singing “New York, New York”, this was Umut Erten and what a wonderful voice he had.  He arrived at the front of the stage and then proceeded onto the stage and we were treated to a wonderful rendition of O Sole Mio.

Umut Erten sings for the audience

The concert was excellent and filled the Refectory with music in which you could immerse yourself,  and the fabulous acoustics are just perfect for this type of concert.

As an aside, a small cat had come into the Refectory and decided to stay for the concert, making itself comfortable on the lap of one of the audience and even waiting during the intermission to enjoy the rest of the concert.   A very discerning kedi.

At the end of the concert, Major (retired) Brian Thomas BEM, Chairman of the Royal British Legion, Kyrenia Branch, thanked the conductors and Band and presented Conductor Fatih Erdoğdu with a plaque on behalf of RBL.

Major (retired) Brian Thomas BEM presents an RBL plaque to Fatih Erdoğdu

There were many calls for an encore, which was acknowledged with more music and the concert then finally came to an end with the audience leaving with music ringing in their ears.

I managed to find the two conductors, Fatih Erdoğdu and Murat Menket and the tenor – Umut Erten outside as we were leaving and asked them to pose for a photograph.  Unfortunately, not being much of a photographer my photos were dreadful and so I thank Lilian White, Hon. Treasurer of the Kyrenia Branch of RBL, for helping me out with the one she took of the three of them together.

 

L-R  Murat Menket, Umut Erten, Fatih Erdoğdu