National Youth Philharmonic of Turkey

© Berkay Temel

Since it was  founded by the conductor Cem Mansur in 2007, the National Youth Philharmonic of Turkey has considered itself a “laboratory of democracy”, focusing not only on intensive musical work, but also on the principles of coexistence, leadership, self-respect and responsibility. Workshops and seminars play an important role in imparting these goals – thus also in 2014, when the orchestra visited the banks of the River Spree on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the city partnership between Istanbul and Berlin. Apart from its own appearances at Young Euro Classic – most recently in 2017, 2019 and 2022 – two binational projects also found a broad resonance: the Young Euro Classic Festival Orchestra Turkey-Germany in 2011 and the Armenian-Turkish Youth Orchestra in 2012. During recent years, the musicians aged 16 to 22 have appeared successfully at the Philharmonic Halls in Dortmund and Essen, at the Auditorio in Rome, in Brussels, at the Brucknerfest in Linz and the Beethovenfest in Bonn. The orchestra has also performed in Vienna, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw on numerous occasions, appearing with soloists such as Murray Perahia, Natalia Gutman, İvo Pogorelich, Stephen Kovacevich, Shlomo Mintz and Salvatore Accardo.

August 10, 2024 8 PM

Konzerthaus Berlin

Cem Mansur

© private

The personal and artistic biography of Cem Mansur could hardly be more cosmopolitan: the British and Turkish citizen was born in Istanbul in 1957 into a multi-national and multi-lingual family. He studied first in London and then with Leonard Bernstein at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute. As the conductor of the Istanbul State Opera from 1981 to 1989 he acquired an impressive opera repertoire. The successful performance of Edward Elgar’s unfinished opera The Spanish Lady in London in 1986 was followed by internationally renowned orchestras and opera houses in Europe and the USA as well as Israel and South Africa. In 2009 Mansur conducted the European premiere of Arvo Pärt’s Symphony No. 4 in Helsinki, followed by the world premiere of his composition Veni Creator in Poland in 2010. As chief conductor of the National Youth Philharmonic of Turkey he has conducted guest appearances at Young Euro Classic and led several bi-national projects, including the Young Euro Classic Festival Orchestra Turkey-Germany and the Armenian-Turkish Youth Orchestra. From 1998 to 2011 he was also chief conductor and artistic director of the Akbank Chamber Orchestra.


Cem Babacan

© Volkan Kovancısoy

The Turkish pianist Cem Babacan is one of the most renowned soloists in his homeland. Born in 1988, he studied at the National Conservatory of the Hacettepe University and was then admitted as an advanced student at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, where he graduated with the highest honours. In the meantime, Babacan has appeared with all the important orchestras and at all the major music festivals in Turkey, as well as London’s Steinway Hall and the Tonhalle in Zurich. He was also invited for several performances with the Brandenburg State Orchestra in Frankfurt an der Oder. In 2018, the pianist gave the world premiere and made the first recording of Cem Oslu’s Piano Concerto with the Izmir Festival Orchestra and of the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Ateş Pars with the Hacettepe Symphony Orchestra.


Ege Gür

© Ali Güler

A native of Istanbul, Ege Gür studied double bass and piano performance at the Ankara Academy of the Arts. Later, he took up composition studies at the State Conservatory of the Hacettepe University and is currently enrolled in its master’s degree programme. Gür has written a multitude of very different compositions: his orchestral works include As if (2019), In cold water, of silence (2020) and Effaced Fingers (both 2021). In the chamber music field, he has composed works for different formations, ranging from wind quintets to a trio for double bass, accordion and piccolo entitled A liquid pearl. Piano works and film scores round out the work of the 26-year-old. In his compositions, he combines the sound colour of 20th-century music with the rich sonic and rhythmic traditions of Turkish music.

Composer (Competition entry European Composition Award 2024)


Excerpts from “Roméo et Juliette” (1839)


Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini a-Minor for Piano and Orchestra Op. 43 (1934)


“the image of that which is invisible” (2023/24, German Premiere) 🏆


“Romeo and Julia”, suites I and II (1938, Excerpts)

About the concert

The National Youth Philharmonic of Turkey has very special qualities, as numerous appearances at the Konzerthaus have proven. It plays at an outstanding level, bringing an enormous portion of passion to the music, a spark which is immediately conveyed to the audience. In addition, its founder and artistic director Cem Mansur is always good for diverse programmes, invariably including new works as well. For the summer performance at Young Euro Classic, he has commissioned the Turkish composer Ege Gür to write a new work, a memorial for the victims of the catastrophic earthquakes in 2023. The centrepiece of the evening are excerpts from the two orchestral suites from Sergei Prokofiev’s glorious ballet music for Romeo and Juliet, perfectly summarizing the dramatic events of the famous story. Its counterpart was written 100 years earlier by Hector Berlioz in his dramatic symphony Romeo et Juliette, also recounting the story of the star-crossed lovers. The solo concerto of the evening is another Russian piece: Sergei Rachmaninov’s Paganini Rhapsody, his masterful variations on the famous Caprice theme by the legendary Italian violinist.

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