On Thursday 27th September, 17 pupils from the Purcell School (string players and composers) travelled from Heathrow Airport with staff members Alison Cox (Head of Composition), Charles Sewart (Head of Strings) and Debbie Shah (Purcell’s accompanist) to spend 5 days in the beautiful Turkish Islands of Bὓyὓkada and Heybeliada. The trip was created for the Purcell School by Dr James Ross, who has a long 15-year association with the islands, and wanted to do something to help them with their musical vision and development. We were all delighted to be able to meet and work with 9 young string players from the Turkish National Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, who immediately made friends with the Purcellians and were a great pleasure to work with themselves, too. Asli Emre (Year 11 Turkish Composer) composed a special fanfare for the two concerts called ‘The Old Bazaar’. It was enormously successful and Asli received a standing ovation. Sasha Scott and Alex Papp (sixth form composers) wrote pieces dedicated to the Islands’ Children’s Orchestra, which were presented to them at the concerts, and hugely appreciated. Josh Mock, who is a Purcell pupil and also the Principal Composer of the NYO also wrote a piece called Elmalarin Yongasi for the children’s orchestra which can be viewed here. It was an enormous success and everyone really enjoyed playing it. All the string players and composers worked hard coaching and mentoring young musicians from the Islands’ Children’s Orchestra. The concerts were in beautiful venues and were performed to large, enthusiastic audiences. The major works performed were Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro and Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams. However, we also had with us one of Purcell’s excellent flautists, Hannah Capstick, who performed CPE Bach’s Flute Concerto in D Minor, and also received a standing ovation! We were also very grateful to members of the Municipal Council and the Islands Children’s Orchestra, who worked so hard for nearly six months on our behalf to make the trip a success.

Comments from the Turkish musicians:

“It was so much fun especially playing with the artists from England. This was the best activity that we could have in three days. Like a tape recorder; they asked the music pieces we like and then played every piece we mentioned. They were playing very good. Besides, they composed a special music for us as a gift. I am grateful to the people who made it possible and also I thank to the people coming all the way from England. I hope one day we will have a chance to play in England too.” – Mehmetcan Bulut (Cello)

“I had so much fun in the music camp and had lots of new friends. I met many lovely and vibrant people who made me dynamic. I am very happy to be in that programme and to have all these new friends. I want to thank everybody who organised this event and I hope they will organise the same activity again.” – Duru Durmuş (Viola)

“In these three days of the music camp, I realised what is beyond my dreams and my future.” – Gizem Cosar (Viola)

“The students that we met in this programme were astonishing! They could play any piece that they mentioned. We have realised that they could easily and amusedly play. All the things they teached us were so interesting that we got so excited. We also observed our friends in the Childrens’ Orchestra of Prince Islands watching admiringly. Every day we participated the rehearsals with the curiosity of the new things that we will experience.” – Nilay Kayaoglu (Violin)