I AM a people person! I love people and I love interacting and sharing with them my music, my knowledge, my experiences, my thoughts, etc. Everything you see here came as a result of this love!
First presentation in 3rd grade!
My earliest recollection of a presentation was a classroom assignment in 3rd grade. I had told the entire history of the Turkish Independence War in two class hours using my postcards from my collection as visuals (long before PowerPoint!) and, in the excitement of the moment, had completely forgotten to mention one of the most important dates during that war!
My first slide presentation was in October 1986. We had just returned from a two-week concert tour of the Soviet Union with the Turkish Presidential Symphony Orchestra (I was their youngest member) and there I had purchased 24 boxes of color slides with 24 slides in each. Having just figured out how to read Cyrillic alphabet I had been able to visit many important sites and buildings in Moscow and St. Petersburg (known as Leningrad at the time).
A Six-hour Talk
This first talk, at home for my friends, had lasted nearly six hours! The little slide projector, that I had also acquired during the tour, could only hold two slides: one to project and one to replace. It overheated regularly and I had to use a towel dipped in ice water to cool down the bright bulb to continue my talk.
A Janissary? Me?
Things changed a little when I was a graduate student at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. I was commonly the only Turk they had met and my colleagues did not think I looked like a Turk! My image, fair-haired and blue-eyed, conflicted with that of a Janissary with a scimitar! As a result I had to talk a lot and also learn much about history to supplement what I already knew.
Libraries, churches, universities...
My professional talks about history, and also architecture, accompanied by color slides began while doing my Doctoral studies in the United States. There I started teaching music history and continued through my years at Turkish universities as a professor of violin. My love of sharing and few other factors brought what I had been doing for the last 25 years that is performing and influencing (hopefully in a positive way 😉 ) under a single project that required only me, Düştüm Yola, approximately meaning I Hit the Road!
“Hit the Road” is a music and education project which involves concerts of rarely or never-performed works by Turkish composers for solo violin and new works by young composers, educational activities such as masterclasses and workshops for music students; and slide lectures/lecture recitals for students of all ages and fields. I have since performed works for solo violin by many well-known Turkish composers and also premiered six new works. Playing solo works enabled me to also to travel even to remote villages and venues, where no piano for accompaniment could be found. I always combine my performances with introductory talks about the history and theory of the works performed and these talks can also be organized as lectures independent from the recitals (here a list of my talks can be found). HittheRoad functions in two different ways: bringing concert music to places and people who have no access to concert music and/or bringing an unknown repertoire to regular concert audiences in concert halls.
Prof. Dr. M. Orhan Ahıskal