The unstoppable Turk

It is not often that you find biographies as inspirational as that of Turkish pianist Emir Gamsizoglu.

By age 20, he had pushed himself to achieve a dream that many children share: becoming a professional basketball player. He accomplished this despite being “vertically challenged” – he was the shortest on his team. Perhaps the hardest working because of it, too.

Gamsizoglu faced a new set of challenges

when he suffered an injury that forced him to look –
after all his years of work and achievements – for a new career option. The career he chose was music. Can there be two more completely different worlds?

Hundreds of hours later invested into this new world, Gamsizoglu plunged in a life of a pianist, becoming involved in seemingly every musical option: chamber music, teaching, stage appearances, and most recently, house concerts.

The phrase “house concert” reminds me of Mitch Hedberg’s take on corn (R.I.P., dear Mitch):

You know they call corn-on-the-cob “corn-on-the-cob,” right? But that’s how it comes out of the ground, man. They should call that “corn”, and they should call every other version “corn-off-the-cob.” It’s not like if you cut off my arm you would call my arm “Mitch”, but then reattach it and call it “Mitch-all-together.”

The term “House concert” is relatively new. It distinguishes music performed in homes to music performed in public spaces or concert halls. It wasn’t that long ago that house concerts were simply concerts, and the music was written to be experienced in the intimacy of a home. Songs sung from a stage are about “far away lands” and “other times” (this said, not to diminish the beauty of those works). Music in the home has more potential to be “here and now”, just as Mendelssohn was able to say at his house-concerts “This song is about me, and you.”

Gamsizoglu graced his audience with an exhaustive overview of piano music from Bach to
Gamsizoglu himself: twenty-one composers in all. (If you can think of a composer’s name, chances are, he was covered!) The performance was enhanced by a multimedia presentation: portraits and photographs of the composers, and pictures of their homelands and surroundings – perfect for today’s visual-hungry listener.  To describe his informal lecture style, Gamsizoglu has adopted the title “The Chatty Pianist.”

The presentation closed with a charming and poignant original composition inspired by the pianist’s own homeland, Turkey.

Thank you, Emir Gamsizoglu, for your dedication to this craft, and for a most memorable evening.

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