April 2020ArticlesFeaturedInterviews

Aslihan And Artist Interview

Winner of the Rising Star award by Sir James Galway Turkish flutist Aslıhan And is the principal flutist of Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra, also former principal flutist of Istanbul State Opera and Ballet. She teaches the flute at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Istanbul State Conservatory. Aslıhan And, who will soon release a CD for her listeners, gives concerts and masterclasses around the globe.

Can you give us 5 career highlights?

Of course, there are things that are valuable for the career journey that turned me into who I am today… I’d be glad to share with you some of the highlights which made me feel grateful for how far I have come and how far I will still go.

I think my family is one of the greatest blessings I have had in my career as an artist. My perspective on art was shaped to a great extent thanks to my father, who is an open-minded actor, and my mother, who was always there to support me. I have been on the stage since I was seven years old, I have won various art contests and I have had the chance to connect with people through music and poetry in Istanbul’s most prominent performance halls. These experiences honed my ability to express myself in music and enabled me to connect with the audience more smoothly.

To be Sir James Galway’s student was one of the greatest opportunities in my life and it was, without a doubt, a turning point for me as an artist to have both Lady Jeanne and Sir James Galway as mentors. They didn’t only teach me how to play the flute, they embraced my musical growth and their faith in me became my inspiration. the golden head joint award I won in 2011 helped me to take a huge leap forward in my career as a flutist. Then in 2012, being chosen as the “Rising Star” of the festival opened many doors for me in the international arena.

Throughout my education experience in Germany, I strived to become a truly multifaceted musician. My dear oboist friend Theresa von Halle and I came up with a new concept, which brought us the first prize in a competition for new concert concepts. Then we toured several cities in Germany together and gave concerts in various festivals. We combined music with a theatrical expression and told stories around the musical pieces we played. The stories changed from one concert to the other, as each time we moved around, we would tell a different story specific to that place. This project and the subsequent concerts gave me the chance to become versatile as a musician.

One of the most indispensable, most valuable milestones of my artistic journey is definitely teaching. Being a teacher in Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University’s Istanbul State Conservatory has helped me gain a brand new perspective. Teaching a class of eight bright children is a wonderful experience in itself, but for me, it is also a learning experience.

The years I spent as a solo flutist in Istanbul State Opera and Ballet which I am proud to be a part of, helped me gain fundamental orchestra experience. Similarly, being the principal flutist of Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra, paved the way for me to have invaluable experience as a member of an orchestra.

Do you teach? Masterclasses? What do you like best about teaching?

Besides teaching at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University’s Istanbul State Conservatory, I give masterclasses at the national and international levels. Last month, I had the opportunity to meet and work with many very talented children in two fantastic festivals in Shanghai, China and Nice, France.

In addition, I teach students aged between 11 and 24 in my own conservatory. My main objective is to help my students reach the highest level as flutists under universal standards. I attach a great deal of importance to their personal development in this process because guiding them towards achieving self-empowerment at the end of their journey will prove to be invaluable as they get better and better while balancing their professional and personal lives.

Most of all, I want to set a good example for them and be a good role model. I’m proud of my students who got accepted to a university abroad. As for my younger students, seeing their enthusiasm and their bright eyes shining with a desire to learn is what encourages me to do my best in carrying them forward. It is the eagerness in their eyes that gives me the power and the motivation to do all it takes for their sake.

What do you like best about performing?

For me, giving a performance is a way of expression and connecting with the audience is undoubtedly the most delightful part of the experience. I believe everyone tells a story on stage. There’s a very intuitive, very genuine feeling behind it. I like expressing this feeling as it is and rediscovering myself through music. This quest for rediscovery I pursue by bravely breaking free of all molds with nothing but my true emotions and my instrument is a raison d'être in itself. To be able to connect with the audience when the moment of rediscovery comes is the best feeling in the world.

CD releases?

Professor Ayça Aytuğ is a dear friend of mine. She and I have been performing as a flute and piano duo for almost 13 years. We will soon release a CD comprised of contemporary pieces written by Turkish composers for our duo. We’re so thrilled about sharing with our listeners the pieces that we enjoy performing and always include in our concert repertoire.

What does your schedule look like for the next 6 months? 

I’m looking forward to the flute camp I will be teaching this summer in Turkey. Other than that, the “Diskant Contemporary Music Ensemble,” comprised of the distinguished teachers and musicians of our conservatory, will be performing all around Turkey. The masterclass and the concerts that await me in the US are among the news I find most exciting for the next six months. I’m honored that I will be performing as a principal flutist with Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra in the opening concert of the 48th Istanbul Music Festival organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts. Also, I am preparing my students for international competitions at the end of summer, it will be one of the busiest times of the year for me. And finally, it’ll be wonderful to come together with flutists from all around Turkey for the masterclass on “orchestral excerpts” I will be giving in Istanbul.

What are your goals personally? Professionally?

Becoming the best version of myself is my ultimate goal... In both professional and personal sense… But I always seek satisfaction, joy, and peace in whatever I’m doing. I never want to stop learning. I want to keep progressing and be grateful for everything, the good and the bad, that life puts in my way. That’s because life is a journey of learning and I want to keep walking on its path with the wonderful people I met along the way. This is my goal in life. Rather than focusing on what I did in the past, I prefer to get excited about what I will do in the future. My biggest objective is to always take joy in what I do and strive to be more competent and more productive.

What has been your greatest challenge?

I think claiming ownership of the talent you have been given until the end and pushing ahead no matter what anyone says is one of the greatest challenges in this journey. As a performer, I take immense pleasure from interacting with the audience, and as a teacher, my enthusiasm knows no limits to be more productive each day. These are my achievements that followed my struggles… When I’m deciding on my path as a musician and an individual, I only want my love for music to be there. The most important thing is freely expressing my feelings when I’m connecting with the audience because that is the only realm where there is no place for judgment.

Who were your music mentors?  And what did you learn from them?

I got the chance to work with very distinguished professors like Juergen Franz and Vieri Bottazzini and I consider myself very fortunate in that regard. I will always be very grateful to them. As for Lady Jeanne and Sir James Galway, I have to say they are the greatest mentors I’ve had in my life. They truly cherish their students. Their guidance and boundless support were a golden opportunity.

I grew up dreaming of one day becoming the student of the legendary flutist Sir James Galway. So I can’t even begin to tell you how important it was for me to learn music and the flute from him. There are no words for how I felt when that dream came true.

Lady Jeanne and Sir James Galway continue to guide me with their invaluable teachings not only in my musical career but in life too. They have always trusted and believed in me. I show my gratitude to them by sharing their wisdom and striving to become better throughout my life.

Can you give us 5 quirky, secret, fun, (don't think too much about this) hobbies or passions?

-I live in the Asian side of Istanbul but teach in the European side. Although I can take the bus from right in front of my home to get to school, I always take the boat because I enjoy watching the historic peninsula and experiencing that unique atmosphere of Istanbul. Seeing how the history and nature converge during this little trip inspires me and helps me meditate.

-When the weather allows, I come up with activities to help my students bond with nature and serenity. I do this because I know that nature brings a strong sense of balance to all aspects of our lives.

-I’m very passionate about being organized, keeping planners and noting down my daily experiences. I like to write as much as I like to read when I find the time. Writing is another means of expression for me.

-I love a nicely balanced diet and work-out routine. On the other hand, I have a brand new bicycle in my garage that I never get a chance to ride because of my busy schedule. Meanwhile, there are so many excellent restaurants in the great metropolis of Istanbul and I happen to be knowledgeable enough on the subject to write a comprehensive guidebook about what to eat and where. This further sabotages my appreciation of a healthy lifestyle :)

What 3 things would you offer as advice for a young flutist?

Focus on your improvement by practicing with discipline and seek out the people who will inspire you and shed light on your path. Achieving personal integrity is the most important step in being yourself. In order to express yourself in music, you need to reach a level of pure self-awareness and maturity. Only when music meets the emotions that are coming from that level, you can achieve what makes you “you.” It is this quality that makes someone a unique musician. Rather than putting effort into constantly seeking approval, focus on how to express what is in your soul.

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