Fazil Say has written an open letter to Turkey’s President Erdoğan about his government’s oppression of the arts and artists.
Mr President, Culture Minister and other authorities,
I am writing this letter to you from Peking. I have a concert in China tonight. I have my own pieces in the programme. My three pieces were removed from the programme in Ankara and it was criticized severely, I heard.
It is just not nice.
I have a few words to tell you. I hope you read this and try to understand this man.
Do you know when you can be powerful? When you present east and west, and their combination at its best.
This is why the Istanbul Symphony you cancelled in Ankara has been performed all around the world. Tokyo Symphony Orchestra performed it last week.
Istanbul Symphony is a piece that played with reed flute, zither, frame drum and double drum (Turkish instruments) in the front rank with 80 people in the orchestra. It presents Istanbul with music. It does not have lyrics. More than 50 orchestra have taken this piece to their repertoire worldwide since its introduction in 2010.
It’s music. Music. What’s Erdoğan doing cancelling a piece of music?
Come and change your repressive mindset which rises rage and confusion throughout the world. Do not be destructive. Let people of Ankara listen to it. Let everyone love what they like. Support it.
Fazıl Say has 56 music works. Nothing changes for Fazıl Say just because three of them were banned in Ankara. The world condemns this repressive mindset of yours, that is all. No one feels any better in Turkey because a musician is banned. You do not feel better. Change this. The only loser is the one who ordered this.
Do not be afraid to bestow your hand.
Even, say ‘Let’s bring this work to cities without orchestras.’ Offer your hand. Do not worry, it will be valued.
The world’s most expensive productions are made even in Qatar. Still, it creates a crooked social fabric if different lifestyles are exposed to fear and threat. Neither oppressor, nor oppressed can be happy.
Let Turkey compete with world in music.
Do not shut down operas, theatres, orchestras. Let people see it if they want to. Let people decide what is what.
Increase the budgets for them to do better and compete with world. Let them do whatever they want. We live in 21st century in a free world. Make it positive. Make the world say ‘Good art is performed in Turkey.’
Do not fear art and artists. It is not a military force before you. It is just musicians, actors, dancers… Man… Simple citizens…
We have faced off against each other in years. We could never get along well with this government. It has brought cencorship and cancellation of other concerts. It has always been considered odd. No one was happy.
Put the crew that created a festival in Antalya back to its post. We created festival with our effort, ideas and creativity. It is our right.
Offer more opportunities to this crew. Say ‘Let’s create other festivals in other cities.’ Tell them to improve together. Do not fear this.
It’s music. Erdoğan doesn’t want to come across as another Taliban does he? Or does he.
It does not make a difference neither for me, nor somebody else when you cancel three or four concerts of mine.
It is only astonishing and humiliating.
Is this what you want? Has this country not lost enough with such mistakes for decades?
Turkey has a few world famous musicians. And it is not earned with just luck. They win competitions and prizes, and come to this point with years of hard work and thousands of concerts in hundreds of cities and it is just not so easy to reach that point.
Please, try to understand for once in your life.
Will Erdoğan pay attention to this letter?
I doubt it.