Turkish piano prodigy awaits state support
Arya Su Gülenç, a nine-year-old prodigy who has awed audiences worldwide with a piano skill beyond her years, will be preparing for international competitions with a piano gifted by Turkey’s internationally-acclaimed pianist and composer Fazıl Say. But her family says the state needs to step in to help nourish talents like Arya.
A third grade student in the northwestern province of Bursa, Arya was the winner of the Crescendo International Music Competition in her age group in New York.
Considered the “child talent of piano,” Arya held a concert at the world-famous Carnegie Hall on Feb. 10, with many participants from around the world. She received an award there too.
Arya, who is taking part in the Young Talents project, consisting of children selected by world-famous musicians such as Fazıl Say, Bülent Evcil, Cihat Aşkın and İbrahim Yazıcı, has given concerts in international competitions in Germany, Russia, Italy, Bulgaria and the U.S. in the last two years.
Arya gained success in almost every international event she attended. From now on, she will prepare for the next competitions with the piano Say gave her as a present.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Arya’s father, Ümit Gülenç, said that he had been working as a music teacher for 18 years.
He said he had told his daughter that he had wanted her to play an instrument. Arya eventually chose the piano.
“I thought that Arya would get bored with trainings and give up, but I was wrong. On the contrary, she became more interested in the piano. When her interest increased, she began to demonstrate her talent. We started to focus more on this process,” he said.
Gülenç emphasized the fact that her daughter won first places in international competitions changed their tempo, too. “Families like us need serious support. If we have public support, Turkey’s and our children’s future will be better. If you want your child to become an international artist, you need to participate in such organizations. Here, we need to be selective, too. Money is needed to attend such competitions. There was the law of prodigy-child in the past. They should give us support again by such a law. For families like us, it is very difficult financially to join these events,” he added.
Family humbled by Say’s present
The father said that they were proud of their child’s successes despite all difficulties. He said that they received very positive messages from people they didn’t even know.
“As Arya started joining more international competitions, we searched for sponsors. There are not many organizations in Turkey in this sense. Arya took the exams of ÇEV Sanat in June last year and became successful. During this process, Say learned that Arya did not have a piano. Then he gifted a piano to her via ÇEV Sanat. It makes us proud that an internationally-acclaimed artist gave her a piano. We are happy that Arya repays it.”
Speaking about her concert in Carnegie Hall, Arya said she was very excited. She said that she experienced “unbelievable feelings” especially in the backstage. “As soon as I touched the keys, my excitement was gone. I focused on my work and dreamed.”
She said her family and many other people provided her support, adding: “After I joined ÇEV Sanat, Say learned that I did not have a piano and sent me his own piano. It makes me very happy to play this piano. It is a different feeling to play the piano of a world-known artist. I thank him very much.”