FeaturedInterviewsIssuesMay 2024

Beste Keles Artist Interview

Beste Keles graduated from Hacettepe University Ankara State Conservatory with an outstanding achievement award. Beste KELEŞ, who actively gives solo and chamber music concerts in Turkey, is the solo flutist of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet Orchestra, as well as a member of the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra.

Can you share 3 pivotal moments that were essential to creating the artist that you've become?

While I was a young student at the conservatory in Ankara, I was invited as a guest artist to a professional private orchestra in Istanbul and had my first piccolo experience. This experience was Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony and Stravinsky’s “Firebird“. This successful performance enabled me to give concerts with many different orchestras and allowed my identity as a professional orchestra player to develop rapidly.

When I was 23 years old the Samsun State Opera and Ballet Orchestra was established in Turkey. I was a part of this orchestra in every performance for 6 years after its establishment and I had the opportunity to give concerts in many cities as a soloist with the orchestra of Samsun State Opera and Ballet. I then joined  Ankara State Opera and Ballet Orchestra which brought me other experiences and responsibilities.  Playing as the principal flutist in at least three different concerts every week took me to another level. Shortly after I started this position, I won the Istanbul Borusan Philharmonic Orchestra’s audition. Becoming a member of this orchestra allowed me to get different orchestral experiences. This provided me with on-stage experiences in addition to my opera orchestra background.

What do you like best about performing in the Ankara State Opera and Ballet Orchestra?

Being a member of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet, which is the first opera established in Turkey, is a great privilege and source of pride for me, as well as a great responsibility. Every performance is a magnificent experience for me, in which I can convey my emotions and passion for music to the audience. Being part of the performances in our historic venue, which is always sold out, is a precious feeling for me. Although we don’t have excellent facilities, I still like to play in Ankara Opera.

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

In April, I will participate in the recording of an opera based on the epic of ‘GILGAMESH', composed from a modern perspective by the Turkish composer Onur Türkmen. Then we will have the premiere of the opera.

In Ankara State Opera and Ballet, we will continue performing our usual repertoire and also work on a new repertoire. We will tour different cities in Turkey and abroad. Our symphonic concerts, which we regularly hold every month with the Ankara State Opera and Ballet Orchestra, will continue until June. Besides these, I am preparing for some symphonic projects and concerts with the Borusan İstanbul Philarmonic Orchestra and other private orchestras.

What are your goals personally?  Professionally?

I love to create. Besides music, I enjoy bringing the projects I am interested into life. Spending time with them motivates me and brings out my creativity and artistic identity in different ways. One of my plans is to realize my artistic creativity in different art forms.

I love improvising and recording my improvisations. Playing flute and exploring many études while practicing is what I enjoy the most. I want to compose and publish a fun etude by bringing together the improvisations that I recorded myself. In addition, it is one of my goals to make CD recordings consisting of excerpts from various operas arranged for flute and piano, and my favorite flute pieces. My professional goal is always to be innovative, participate in more projects, and be helpful to my young colleagues. Although I do not actively teach, I like to share my knowledge, create positive awareness in others, and help younger musicians, which are also among my goals.

What inspires you the most in life? 

One of the things that inspires me is discovering new countries and different cultures. Everything I experience there adds awareness to me. Being in nature, like meditation is another source of inspiration for me. I especially take care to dedicate time and plan to incorporate this routine into my life. Another inspiring thing for me is my curiosity for a variety of music beyond classical music. Listening to and performing unconventional music, and staying meditative within the music always broaden my horizons.

What has been your professional greatest challenge?

My greatest challenge is that I don’t have an instrument of my own. I am using the flute of the opera house I work in. It would have been very helpful for me to have my own flute.

I think it would not be wrong to say that I have been struggling with some difficulties since the early years of my career. Countries where opportunities don’t come easily due to social, politic,al or cultural conflicts always require a struggle. With the advancements in communication and accessibility every day, I hope that the new generations will not experience the difficulties I have experienced. On the other hand, I believe that existing as an artist also requires a self-struggle. It is very important to maintain the same motivation every day, to constantly improve yourself, and at the same time, not to miss out on life.

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

At the age of 12, I started my music education with Professor İlhan Baran at the Ankara State Conservatory. He was one of our country's valuable composers and had unique knowledge in every subject matter. Therefore, at a very young age, he introduced different kinds of music to me, taught me about different cultures, and helped me push the boundaries of my imagination with every book he gifted or recommended. In addition, when I started my flute education, Gulsen Satana mentored me, meticulously guided me, and always taught all her students how to improve themselves. Throughout my student life and beyond, I had the opportunity to participate in master classes by many flute virtuosos, I tried to learn different nuances from each of them. Juliette Hurel is the most impressive flutist for me in these master classes. I studied with her even for a short time,I understood special musical and technical details about the flute.

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

I love doing everything that can be done with DIY skills. Decoration and creating new objects are among my hobbies. My home is filled with objects like tables, lamps, chairs, sculptures, and wall art that I have designed or made myself. Painting is another passion of mine, especially painting for my close friends as a gift that makes both me and them happy. Even though I have a bad injury caused by the various sports I practiced over the years, I definitely couldn't stop pursuing these passions of mine. I return to them as soon as I recover. Taking good care of my body always helps me while playing the flute. However, I enjoy listening to alternative music and being a part of it too, so sometimes we come together with different bands or musician friends to make music. Dancing and secretly singing songs are among my other passions.

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

I advise young flute players to listen to a lot of music, have fun while practicing, and not be discouraged when they fell unsuccessful. Sometimes we forget how beautiful our profession is in the midst of competition or feel tired and fed up with the pressures we face. I can always recommend them to practice with joy, use their time wisely, and create their own motivation. There is no reason for them not to believe in themselves as long as they support their talents with regular practice.

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