From Ayşe Taşpınar Gatenyo
I have always been fascinated by melodies created by great composers and grew up listening to Western classical music. Although my home as a child was always filled with music especially with my mom as a piano teacher, I became aware of the rich musical cultural heritage existing in my native Turkey much later in life. While a doctoral student at UCLA’s Herb Alpert Music School, I was introduced to the ethno-musical heritage of Anatolia. I took interest in Ottoman-Armenian musical traditions and wrote my dissertation on the contributions of these talented Armenian composers, such as Komitas, Edgar Manas, Dikran Tchoukhajian. While researching for my dissertation, I had the privilege of meeting Armenian colleagues and learning more about the depth of the Armenian cultural legacy. Growing up in Turkey, Ottoman-Armenian cultural heritage and contributions was inaccessible or not acknowledged as such. Through my encounters in what I see as one of the most multi-ethnic cosmopolitan cities in the world, Los Angeles, I realized that worlds that are physically apart can actually have much in common. Living in Los Angeles as a Turkish-American pianist has helped me to reconnect with the multi-ethnic fabric of today’s Turkey and appreciate Ottoman-Armenian contributions to Ottoman society, which have altogether made way for contemporary Turkish culture. The Ottoman-Armenian talent elevated the level of our shared yet distinct history in so many ways that without them the region’s rich artistic layers would not be possible. Over the years I spent as a pianist traveling across the world, I recognized this incredible mosaic of cultures, which is dwindling each day in Turkey. I established the Light of Anatolia/Apricot Tree Foundation in 2017 with the hope to reintroduce this mosaic to people around the world and help sustain the cultural herıtage of indigenous communities in Anatolia, and more broadly in the Near East. My goal in establishing The LOA/Apricot Tree Foundation is to show appreciation for the dynamic heritage of the region and to share it with younger generations across the world, who may not be aware of these traditions. My goal is to share my personal experience through my love of music and remind people that while culture can be unique, there could also be shared components. My humble wish is to create more understanding and empathy between people through cross-cultural exchanges and alas, through the universal language of music. Ayse Taspinar finalized her D.M.A program under the tutelage of world recognized pianist and pedagogue, Vitaly Margulis. She also earned a W. Ulmer Dissertation Fellowship in support of her dissertation subject, “Armenian and Turkish Piano music in the Ottoman Empire”. She holds an M.M and P.D. from the Jacobs School of Music in Indiana University as well as a B.M and Conservatory Diploma from Turkey and Italy’s Giuseppe Verdi Conservatorio di Milano. Ms. Taspinar received fruitful guidance throughout her musical development from Svetlana Navarsardyan.
Ayse Taspinar is an artist with an international foundation, stemming from her extended life experiences in Europe, Asia and the United States. Her expanded travels have equipped her with the essential communication skills to successfully interact with peoples with an array of different origins and backgrounds through her fluent mastery of English, Italian, French and Turkish. Ms. Taspinar’s passion for sharing, exchanging and uniting through music has lead her to give lectures and presentations as a speaker and pianist alike. Her most recent accomplishment was her highly acclaimed presentation at the Soka Gakkai International Culture of Peace Resource Center in Los Angeles, CA. Invited to participate in their “Distinguished Speakers Series”, Ayse Taspinar offered a lecture and piano performance on the topic, “Rediscovering the shared cultural heritage of Armenians and Turks through music.” This same year, Ms. Taspinar was the invited piano soloist to perform Chopin’s second piano concerto with the UCLA Symphony. Active as a soloist, with orchestra, chamber musician and accompanist, Ms. Taspinar has offered concerts worldwide in New York, Washington DC, Chicago. Toronto, Ottowa, Mexico City, Caracas, Brazil, Rio de Janiero, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Rome, Milano, Granada, Montreal, Bloomington, Ankara,Istanbul and Izmir.