PHOTOS BY BIROL BEBEK
O Fortuna, velut Luna statu variabilis,
semper crescis aut decrescis…
The sky was shaken by the tremendous choral piece in honour of Fortuna, Imperatrix Mundi, Ruler of the World, the first song of the cantata in three parts Part I “Primo vere/Spring”, Part II “In Taberna/In a Tavern” and Part III “Cours d’Amour” It made my hair stand on end and all my nerves were tingling.
On the two nights of 2 and 3 September, people flocked to the amphitheatre in Kyrenia to witness the event of the year with Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, an event organised by Turgay Hilmi who is known to all of us for his big event performances in the past such as Othello in the Salamis amphitheatre, and Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio (2000) and The Magic Flute (2005) in Kyrenia. 150 performers were assembled on the open air stage with the dark sky above us to receive the jubilant and rousing melodies by Carl Orff: 70 members of one of the largest and oldest professional choirs in Germany, the Nuremberg Lehrergesangverein Choir, under the leadership of Bernd Dietrich; four German soloists: Silke Schrape – Soprano; Peter Maus – Tenor; Manuel Krauss – Baritone; Klaus Bimüller – Bass; 25 young members of the Kibris Sanat (Cyprus Art) Chorus established by Turgay Hilmi and his partner Güzem Özdeğirmenci; and 57 members of the Aegean Philharmonic Orchestra from Izmir, which also included musicians from Germany: two pianists, Ines and Katja Lunkenheimer and the percussion group of Prof. Hermann Schwander of the Music Conservatory in Nuremberg.
The ensemble of the choirs, orchestra and soloists was in my ears and understanding a wonderfully balanced playing together and for two hours a musical special treat.
I had the chance to speak personally to some of the people involved in setting up the event, among them Mrs Marga Beckstein, wife of the former minister president of Bavaria, who, together with our first lady Oya Talat were the patrons of this most spectacular cultural event. For her and her husband, Dr. Günther Beckstein, it was their first visit to the TRNC, a country so rich in old culture and traditions, she said, with beautiful landscapes and friendly people. She felt proud to be an ambassadress for the cultural exchange between the countries. Also present were HE Şakir Fakılı, the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey, who made the realisation of the project possible with financial contributions.
The opening music pieces from three different famous composers with Bernd Dietrich as conductor, provided the welcoming cocktail of the evening, warming us up and displaying the versatility of the Aegean Philharmonic Orchestra. Pietro Mascagni: Intermezzo of Cavalleria Rusticana; Guiseppe Verdi: Ouverture of La Traviata; Georges Bizet: Ouverture of Carmen. The members of the orchestra come from different opera houses in Izmir (music director Ali Hoca, general coordinator Serdar Ongurlar, lead violinist Lalecan Özay and flautist Hürkan Ayvazoglu, the orchestra coordinator).
During the interval the audience was welcomed by Turgay Hilmi, the patronesses, Mrs Oya Talat and Mrs Marga Beckstein, and the Turkish Ambassador Mr Şakir Fakılı, all underlining the importance of cultural exchange between their countries, Germany, the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, with the personal and intellectual ties they have established over the years with the help of Turgay Hilmi. The two performances were held for the benefit of the Cyprus Turkish Orthopaedic Disabled Association and Special Education Foundation. I would like to commend the members of the German choir who had paid for their own tickets and sojourn here in the TRNC, and took no payment for the benefit concert.
Mrs Marga Beckstein brought with her a letter written by Mrs Liselotte Orff, the widow of Carl Orff, who had heard of the musical event and which she read to us. Mrs Orff’s thoughts and wishes coming from her home in Bavaria gave the evening a very festive note.
The profane songs of Carmina Burana are just that: profane, full of lust for life, about love and courting, the medieval spirit of life, romanticism, mysticism and belief in the goddesses of love and fortune. The soloists with their beautiful studied voices gave the scenic touch to this medieval musical theatre. I had the impression of being led through a deep mysterious forest full of elves and gnomes met by the migrating novices who had written the poems so many centuries ago. This impression was confirmed when one day after the concert I discovered a scenery image for Carmina Burana designed by Jean-Pierre Ponelle. You can find it under www.orff.de under Carl Orff’s works.
The most successful evening ended with the thunderous supplication to Fortuna, and we were happy to hear it as the encore, and for my part I joined in with my personal supplication as I am sure so many others did. Mr Bernd Dietrich was a very sympathetic and sensitive conductor, directing the orchestra, the two choirs and soloists; the language of his movements could be understood and followed easily, even by someone uninitiated like myself. I saw his mouth forming the words of the songs and his whole body swaying with the music, conveying the infectiousness of the work.
About Carmina Burana
Carl Orff set the verses of Carmina Burana to music between 1935-1937, verses written in the 13th century by migrating novices, written in Latin, old German or old French. The collection “Codex Buranus” was kept at the Monastery of Benediktbeuren, and is today kept as Codex latinus monacensis” in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. When Carl Orff first came across them, he said that Fortuna had played her part, when the handwritten manuscript mentioned in a catalogue of a secondhand bookshop in Würzburg came to his attention.
Two days before the concerts, I met some of the persons involved with the production and execution of the high level music event: Turgay Hilmi, Bernd Dietrich and Dieter Herzog. I met them at the Riviera Hotel in Karaoğlanoğlu which they found a most delightful place to stay and enjoy a peaceful environment at the sea. There were shown around the country and they all said that they had been very impressed, especially by the friendliness and hospitality shown by the Cypriot Turks. They will remember the TRNC as an unforgettable experience and plan to come back another time.
Turgay Hilmi, Honorary Cultural Attaché of the TRNC since 1992, was born in 1957 in Nicosia. In 1973 he went to Ankara in 1973 to study music at the State Conservatory where he graduated in 1979. He continued his studies at the Nuremberg Music Conservatory. From 1980 – 1986, he had his first engagement as French horn player with the Symphony Orchestra and the State Opera in Nuremberg. In 1986, he became lecturer at the Pedagogic Scientific Faculty of the Friedrich Alexander University in Nuremberg and in the same year became an independent musician and his own concert agent, giving international solo concerts and organising concerts and big musical events in his home country, the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. “In 1998, I brought 320 musicians from Germany to the TRNC for the production of Othello at the Salamis amphitheatre and with 4,500 visitors, it was the first of its kind and a big success. Other events followed with Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio (2000) and The Magic Flute (2005) in Kyrenia. For the future, I plan to organize a production of Carmen, an old dream of mine.” His cooperation with the Nuremberg Lehrergesangverein Choir is one of long standing and friendship. He had worked together with Bernd Dietrich at the University and in many concerts. Turgay Hilmi has made his home in both countries, Germany and the TRNC, and thus will remain the Cultural Attaché in the true sense of the word.
Bernd Dietrich was born in 1945 in the Bavarian Hof on the Saale and lived there until he had finished his high school education. He then went to study music at the music conservatories in Bayreuth and Munich. What were the reasons for choosing church music as his preferred discipline, I asked him. “I loved music already as a child, was trained on the violin and flute but it was the piano which interested me most. My preference and love for music is rooted in the understanding of Bach; education in church music not only includes all aspects of working with music but also left me rather independent and free to develop my own style of interpretation. I wanted to do something valuable which I found in church and baroque music. But I love music as a whole and am not restricted only to church music. On the contrary, I love opera, jazz and good entertainment music, and what we often do are song recitals, which are gems for us.” Bernd Dietrich has worked for various churches in Germany but always came back to Bavaria, his home country, where he taught at the music conservatory in Nuremberg and founded there five different choirs which he finds most enlivening because each choir is different, as individual as the people who sing in them. He concluded:
“I would like to come back to a mention of the performances here in North Cyprus: For us they were a fantastic experience, to play under an open sky and to have the audience around us like in a bowl. Working with the mainly young orchestra from Izmir was a big surprise for me; they were well prepared for Carmina Burana and working with them was a pleasure. So it was also with the young people from the Kibris Sanat Children’s Choir.”
Dieter Herzog, Director of Board of the Nuremberg LGV = Lehrergesangsverein (Nuremberg Teachers Choir). Since I wanted to hear a voice from inside the choir, I spoke to Dieter Herzog who is responsible, together with the other board members, for managing the affairs of the association and helping to organise concerts. They are all active chorus members. It was from them that I learnt that the members of the choir had all paid their own expenses to come here and sing for the people of the TRNC. I was deeply impressed by their enthusiastic engagement in the cause.
Dieter Herzog was born in 1961 in Gleiwitz/Silesia and studied theology. “I joined the LGV Choir in 1991 and have been president of the association board since 2001.
The LGV is a choir with a long tradition; in 2003 the members celebrated the choir’s 125th birthday. Today, with its 140 regular members it is one of the larger choirs in Germany and performs regularly in the Meistersingerhalle and abroad (three annual subscription concerts together with the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra). It is the only choir to have a joint Youth and Children’s Choir, the rising new generation of the LGV Choir.
Asked what impressions they would take home with them, they said: “We felt at home here, we were surprised at the direct friendliness of the Turkish Cypriots and above all at the feeling of security we had here. We will come back.”