Young Turk cellist buried in Fethiye
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Famed Turkish cellist Benyamin Sönmez died of a heart attack at the age of 28 on Nov. 30. His funeral ceremony was organized in Ankara and Muğla’s Fethiye. Hürriyet photo
Turkish cellist Benyamin Sönmez, who was known as the “genius child of the violoncello,” was laid to rest Dec. 3 in the southwestern district of Fethiye after dying of a heart attack at the age of 28.
Turkey has lost a very important artist and a talent, the cellist’s uncle, Seyran Sucu, said during the funeral. “But we lost our beloved one.”
An initial ceremony for Sönmez, who died during a visit to his Kyrgyz conservatory teacher, Gülmira Tokombayeva, a lecturer at the Hacettepe University Ankara State Conservatory, was held at the Hacettepe University.
Later, Sönmez’s body was brought to the Fethiye Culture Center. His mother, Fatma Sönmez; father, Ünal Sönmez, and brother, Mehmet Sönmez, a contrabass artist at the Presidency Symphonic Orchestra, were all present at the funeral.
Mehmet Sönmez said his brother would live on through his melodies and music forever.
Following the remembrance service at the Fethiye Culture Center, Sönmez’s body was taken to the Fethiye Yeni Mosque for another ceremony, during which Tokombayeva made a short speech. The cellist was later buried in the city’s graveyard.
Born in Bremen in 1983, Sönmez gained acclaim after being chosen first in a cello concert at Ankara’s Bilkent University by a jury composed of an American cellist, conductor Gürer Aykal and violinist Doğan Cangal.
For further studies, Sönmez was recommended to Russian cellist Natalia Gutman by Russian violinist Yuri Bashmet via Tokombayeva. Between 2003 and 2007, he studied under Gutman, first at the Stuttgart Hochschule für Musik in Germany and later at the Moscow Conservatory in Russia. In Moscow, he was frequently invited to Gutman’s home, where he had the opportunity to meet notable writers, artists and musicians including Bashmet, Viktor Tretiakov, Vasily Lobanov, Eliso Virsaladze, Mischa Maisky and Kurt Masur.
He also had master class performances with great cellists like Mstislav Rostropovich, David Geringas, Philippe Muller, Alexander Rudin, Stefan Popov, Frans Helmerson, Ruben Dobrovsky, Miklos Perenyi and Yo-Yo Ma.
His repertoire included modern composers such as Dmitri Shostakovich, Alfred Schnittke, Giya Kancheli, Sofia Gubaidulina, Astor Piazzolla and Zoltan Kodaly, as well as composers from the baroque and other eras.
Sönmez played in important musical centers such as Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam, Moscow, New York, Washington and Istanbul.