Art and Culture

I can hear a Symphony

By Peri Sualp…

Last month I was invited to perform with the Presidential Symphony Orchestra for the * 23rd April National Sovereignty and Children’s Day.

You cannot imagine how honoured I was to be invited to sing in such an important event and how excited I was to perform with such a prestigious SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA! 

I have been on stage here in Cyprus and abroad since I was 9 years old, performing Broadway and Disney musicals and classical songs, sometimes for school performances, sometimes for charity events, sometimes in full shows and other events. However, I had never felt so much excitement before – not even on my first stage performance for singing. It was like a full adventure for me. It began from the choices of what songs to sing, I finally chose “My Favorite Things” from the “Sound of Music” and “Colours of the Wind” from Disney’s “Pocahontas”. Then I had a pre-rehearsal with the Chief Conductor of the Presidential Symphony Orchestra, Ali Hoca. I cannot thank him enough for arranging my choice of songs for the Symphony Orchestra to play, I am sure he dedicated so much of his time doing this and I truly appreciate his efforts for me.

Then it was the real rehearsal with the Symphony Orchestra. I can’t describe my excitement on that particular day. I had performed with many instruments before; piano, violin, flute, cello – sometimes all these instruments together sometimes one or two of them together and sometimes only solo piano, but I had never sung with a whole orchestra before. How was it going to be? Would I sound ok? Would I be successful? Lots of questions were running through my mind. I am really thankful to concertmaster Nihat Agdac for his tips and comforting words before I start singing. When the time came for me to sing, I started to sing my song with joy and excitement and it flowed like a river. I felt as if I was flying over the clouds. I can’t remember any other time that I felt so much IN the song. As if I was the song myself. I felt the music in me, even in all my molecules and I became ONE with the music played by the orchestra. It was fabulous from the first try that we didn’t even have to repeat. Another person that I feel most grateful to in my invitation to sing with the Symphony Orchestra was the Coordinator of the Presidential Symphony Orchestra, Mustafa Kofali, came and hugged me and congratulated me on my performance. After that I left all my questions and worries aside. As I was relieved, the other rehearsals before the concert went perfectly as well.

The 23rd April special concert of the Presidential Symphony Orchestra took place on two different dates and in two different places. On the 18th April 2019, Near East University Culture and Congress Center and on the 19th April 2019, Rauf Raif Denktaş Culture Center in Magusa. There were other soloists who were invited to perform. Suna Alsancak and Ozel Gunhanlar performed on piano. I am sure that both will be great concert pianists one day. Efe Sagiroglulari performed with a xylophone. He was fantastic, I am pretty sure that we are going to hear his name a lot for percussion in the future. I soon became friends backstage with these super talented kids and I wish a bright future for all three of them. As well as the soloists, the very talented Lefkosa Fine Arts School choir also took the stage conducted by Ipek Kiranbay. The performance of the choir was really amazing. Everyone was impressed with their choice of songs and the quality of performance. I congratulate Ms Kiranbay and her successful students.

L-R Peri Sualp, Suna Alsancak, Nihat Agdac, Efe Sagiroglulari, Ozel Gunhanlar, Ali Hoca

Then came the first concert day, I was fully prepared with all my soul and talent and appearance to go on stage. My turn came and there I was on the stage… performing… with the Symphony Orchestra… to the most respectable audience of North Cyprus. I never wanted that moment to end. It was as if I was the centre of the universe… and the applause… the reward of all your efforts and hard work for many years…  it was surely a moment to remember in my life.

Both concerts were a full house with the audience and there were dignitaries from the military forces and the government. President Mr Akinci and his lovely wife also attended. My supporting family and friends were there too. Most importantly my mentor and teacher who has trained me up till now and led me to experience such an important event, Dr. Demetra George Mustafaoğlu was there with her husband. She had changed her America flight tickets to an earlier date in order to be by my side at this special event. My appreciation cannot be shown in words. I have to mention two other persons whom I would most probably never survive without. My mum, my life – obviously! and Hatice Salih Kerimgil who is always there for me, even backstage helping me out.

I have to thank many other people who appreciate and support me in my journey of becoming a professional in musical singing. I hope I can manage to be a recognized performer one day and make all those who have supported me and my country proud. I’d like to finish my article with an African proverb which my mum keeps saying: “It takes a village to raise a child!”

* The Grand National Assembly of Turkey was established on 23rd April 1920 and to commemorate the event, 23rd April was proclaimed as a national holiday in 1921. Since 1927 it has also become Children’s Day of Turkey and from 1979 on, Children’s Day of the world. This national day is a very unique event as the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, dedicated April 23rd to the children of the country to emphasize that they are the future of the new nation and he entrusted the protection of this sovereignty and independence in the hands of youth. Every year, the children in Turkey and TRNC celebrate this National Sovereignty and Children’s Day as a national holiday. Schools participate in week-long ceremonies marked by performances in all fields especially in large stadiums watched by the entire Nation. Turkey also welcomes children from all over the world in order to participate in the festivities taking place and all these children stay in Turkish families’ homes.  In the past, Turkish officials worked hard to internationalize this important day and UNICEF decided to recognize this date as International Children’s Day as well. We cannot be thankful enough to the great leader and founder of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, for all he has done and dedicating such an important date to us, children.