I was back at IU, my alma mater, after 20 years or so, for a residency of two weeks, late September and early October along with one of my project ensembles, the Şimdi Ensemble. It was a thrilling experience that took me from a solo concert, to harp ensemble coaching of traditional Turkish music for Fan-Fen Tai’s class…from performing in lectures about Turkish music to talking about my work on the çeng in a course on Silk Road Music of Professor Aida Huseyinova. We had performances with Şimdi Ensemble at the Lotus Festival, IU Art Museum, visited students at Foster Living and Learning Center and played for them in an informal setting.
Project Jumpstart at Jacobs was another emotional moment for me as over an hour of lunch I met with students and talked about my career. Alain Barker who leads the project was a school mate and we had played chamber music on more than one occasion. It was so nice to see him after so many years and a pioneering work he does with this project, this is for sure! That took me back to the years I was last in Bloomington, kind of in their shoes, wondering what the world of classical music out there had in store for me. It was the first time all those years since graduating rolled like a movie in front of my eyes, taking me into quiet articulation about how I have been navigating through them. A workshop with Sacabuche on a developping project also was very interesting, led by Linda Pearse.
To be reunited with my dear teacher, Distinguished Professor of Harp, Susann McDonald was certainly the highlight. Visiting her home, her exquisite studio, having a lovely dinner together…seeing her in our Lotus Festival concert at Buskirk-Chumley Theater, playing a couple of hymns and the çeng in her masterclass and performing a solo recital in her presence at the beautiful Auer Hall which had not existed during my time in Bloomington (1988-1992) are certainly unforgettable moments for me. She has been a huge influence not only on my career but with the way I try to walk through life and I saw with bare eyes, back in the labyrinth like hallways of the Music Annex building what she had really done for me.
It was interesting how Bloomington developped and yet managed to stay the same. I was hosted in a house owned by the Jacobs family, on the corner of East 2 nd Street and Ballantine. And old house with a beautiful yard, a wonderful deck where we enjoyed some great autumn weather and caught glimpses of the deers wandering about in late evening hours.
I felt very welcome by everyone who made this residency possible, starting with IU’s First Lady Laurie McRobbie. She initiated the idea of the residency about a year ago at an IU alumni event in Istanbul where I performed. Laurie McRobbie graciously introduced our concert at the IU Art Museum to a large group of very attentive listeners. It was pure joy to perform in this I.M. Pei structure, with beautiful beams of light infused nearly in the music we were performing.
A couple of people made this residency become a reality. Rita Koryan and Shawn Reynolds worked very hard on orchestrating it. A nice lunch downtown concluded with ideas about how we could repeat this next year. I am certainly looking forward to being back to ingest more from IU’s dedication to making Jacobs a music school also for the next century!
We spent a nice evening also with Turkish Student Association, with the lovely Serife Seyis and Zulfukar Dogan and Kelley Business School faculty Kerem Cakırer. And yet another nice evening with wonderfu harpist and IU Faculty, my dear classmate Elzbieta Szmyt and her husband John Karaagac at Irish Lion. That is where we used celebrate our recitals twenty years back.