As a pianist, composer, soprano, and music therapist, I carried out a Holocaust Project on the Terezin Composers in April 2015. In addition to a concert titled “Holocaust Remembrance/Before Sleep,” the project involved a set comprising a CD, a DVD and a booklet released by Kalan Music in Istanbul with the same title. When the project was completed, my album “Holocaust Remembrance / Before Sleep” was accepted as a source of reference by the Yad Vashem Museum and www.holocaustmusic.org.
Following the concert and the release of the album, I had the honour of performing the compositions of the Terezin Composers for the first time in Turkey. In April 2015, I was sent to Romania by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic in order to perform the same lecture concert, again as a premiere in the country. Upon the success of my project and performances, as well as the translation into Turkish of the biographies of Terezin Composers, I was invited by Bob Elias and Michael Beckerman to Los Angeles in October 2016 to give a lecture concert at the symposium “Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices.”
With the support of the Turkish Republic and the Turkish Embassy and Consulate General in Brazil, I had the opportunity to give four successive lecture concerts and educational sessions also in this country between 6 and 10 April 2016. In these lecture concerts, both my repertoire and my lecture pertained to the Terezin Composers. Cooperating with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum during my talk, I showed the audience the pre-war photographs of the children who were imprisoned in the concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. All honouring the lives of the Terezin Composers, these concerts were also a premiere in Brazil. I was particularly honoured by the attendance of the Czech Ambassador Mr. Jiri Havlik, and Ms. Pavla Havrlikova, the Consul General of the Czech Republic in São Paulo.
While I had quite a busy schedule in Turkey giving lecture concerts on the same theme, on the night of January 27, 2018 (declared by the UN as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day as it was when the Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp was liberated), I gave a concert titled “Holocaust Remembrance / Before Sleep” in the Harvard University Menschell Hall with the cooperation of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Turkish General Consulate in Boston, Harvard University Turkish Student Association, Harvard Hillel, and Harvard Art Museums. In this concert and the concert I had given on the evening of January 25, 2018 in the presence of diplomats and a number of university academics at the Residence of the Turkish General Consulate in Boston, I played the works of Terezin Composers.
In addition, I also organized educational programmes on the Holocaust and Terezin Composers, one of which took place in the American School in Brazil and another in the Baccarelli Institute in the favela of São Paulo, where none of the teenagers aged between 14 -17 who attended the programme had even heard of the word “Holocaust” before.
Besides my ongoing lecture concerts on the Terezin composers, we held several meetings in August 2017 with “EVERLASTING HOPE: Gustav Mahler & Terezin Composers Foundation”, an institution recently set up in Terezin in the Czech Republic (http://www.vecnanadeje.cz/nadacni-fond_en.html). The meeting resulted in a mutual decision for possible cooperation in the organisation of concerts and educational programmes concerning the Terezin Composers, which I had been already doing. Furthermore, the Institute also kindly suggested organising various concerts and workshops together for international students in Terezin.
While I I have recently set up the Holocaust Reality and Positive Resistance Initiative. We aim to continue to introduce the Terezin Composers and create awareness about the Holocaust, while at the same time organizing educational sessions for students in the 14 – 17 age group in Turkey. Abroad, I have been carrying out the training sessions with relevant schools and institutions, especially with non-Jewish children.
These developments as well as my collaboration with the Terezin Institute resulted in the two concerts I gave in Prague and Terezin and a workshop I carried out with teenagers in the Terezin Camp on August 21 and 22, 2018. Within the framework of the initiative I set up with the title “Holocaust Reality and Positive Resistance,” I started the “March of the Music” movement with the aim of enabling two non-Jewish students to pay a visit to Terezin every year. With the collaboration of the Turkish Jewish Society and the Terezin Institute, I took along with me this year two young Muslim students, Akın Kilis, a composition student at Mimar Sinan University, who had previously participated in my training session in Istanbul, and Engin Çetin, a student of musicology at the same university. During our visit to Terezin, they produced their own musical creations by taking their inspiration from their first-hand experience of the place. My travel expenses, thanks to the efforts of the Turkish Embassy in Prague, were met by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Following our trip to Terezin in August, I had the chance of giving the same concert in New York in October.
I gave my performance titled “Holocaust Remembrance / Before Sleep” in Berlin on November 25 2018, with the collaboration of KIGA in Berlin. With the support of KIGA, on November 23, I carried out my training session titled “Holocaust Reality and Positive Resistance” with the children of Turkish families who had immigrated to Germany. The session took place with the 11-year-old students of Aziz Nesin School, a pilot state school that provides bilingual (German and Turkish) education for the first time in Germany. Via the support of another institution, on November 22, I held the same training session in Leo Kestenberg Music School with a group of music students from Israel who were visiting Berlin at the time on an exchange programme.
My goal is to carry out the multi-purpose educational sessions and lecture concerts which I believe underpin the educational programme on Holocaust awareness on a more frequent basis in Turkey and in the world in general. Please find at the end of this document the list of the lecture concerts and the educational sessions completed so far.