Turkey’s classical music community gathered in İstanbul Monday night for the second edition of the Andante classical music magazine’s annual awards, renamed the Donizetti Classical Music Awards this year in a tribute to 19th century Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti.
Awards in 25 categories -- ranging from pianist to opera director of the year and from opera singer to director of the year -- were handed out in the ceremony, held at the Rahmi M. Koç Museum on the Golden Horn in Hasköy.
Andante, the leading periodical dedicated to classical music in Turkey, launched the awards in 2010.
World-famous concert and recording pianist İdil Biret was honored with a lifetime achievement award in Monday’s ceremony, a joint effort between Andante and the Beyoğlu Municipality. In addition to accepting her award, Biret took to the stage for a second time during the ceremony, for a live performance in which she presented a mini recital with cellist Dorukhan Doruk and violinist Berfin Aksu, who were the recipients of this year’s two breakthrough young musician awards.
Other treats Monday night included a performance of Liszt’s “Grande Paraphrase” by Gülsin Onay, who won one of the night’s major awards, pianist of the year. Soprano Burcu Uyar, who won the female opera singer of the year, sang the aria “Regnava nel silenzio” from the Donizetti opera “Lucia di Lammermoor,” while tenor Ünüşan Kuloğlu, the winner of the male opera singer of the year, sang the aria “Winterstürme” from Wagner’s “Die Walküre.”
The Ankara-based Bilkent Symphony Orchestra was named the orchestra of the year, while veteran maestro Gürer Aykal, currently the honorary conductor of the Borusan İstanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, won the award for conductor of the year. Famous violinist Atilla Aldemir was named string instrumentalist of the year, and Cem Aktora won the award for wind instrumentalist of the year. Aytaç Manizade, known for her minimalist style in the opera pieces she puts on stage, won the award for opera director of the year.
Winners of this year’s awards were determined by a jury made up of 200 music professionals from a shortlist of nominees selected by an eight-member committee that included classical music critics and journalists Serhat Bali, Şefik Kahramankaptan, Ahmet Makaal and Ahmet Büke, among others.
In other categories, Güzin Gürel, a well-known vocal pedagogue, and violin teacher Hazar Alapınar became the two recipients of this year’s music educator special honor, while Özkan Manav won the composer of the year award.