In addition to the pride of hosting a world giant in our boutique hall, I decided that I should write the conversations and snapshots of the three short days we spent with this legendary name, which I personally admire, while it was still fresh in my memory.
Even if you are not related to any branch of art, I think and hope that it will be useful for you to read this short story.
15 December – First Ankara Visit
Katsaris was scheduled to land at Ankara Esenboğa Airport at around 22:00, but it was delayed for an hour due to heavy fog and air traffic.
As soon as the plane landed on the runway, the driver dropped me off and started its tours. The moment I walked in, I fell into the famous dilemma: Will it come from domestic or international lines?
When I arrived at the domestic terminal, I saw him walking fast behind the glass; Later on, I realized that he was the victim of the same dilemma and came to the internal line exit as a result of misdirection.
When I saw that he was walking out the door with fast steps, I immediately went to him and established the first dialogue with “Welcome Mr. Katsaris”.
Smiling, he shook one of my outstretched hands and added: “Hi Cihan, please call me Cyprien. My suitcase is going to leave the international lines, let's go and get it" he said.
Although he was sixty-six years old, he walked at the same pace as mine, then we took his suitcase and got into the car.
- Going to the Hotel
We chatted along the way. I must say Cyprien has an excellent knowledge of history.
We talked about almost everything from Atatürk's Revolutions to the current government. He talked about Turkey's place in the economic power ranking and asked his questions.
He showed them almost all the mosques he discovered at dusk and asked what they were wondering about their architecture; At one point, I said, “What does he find in these mosques, he always turns around like a child and shows it”, but then I remembered my first visit to Rome.
I was the one who took endless pictures for every church with the same admiration. Afterwards, I said to him, “Everywhere in Ankara has become a mosque,” and he laughed sarcastically, saying, “A church in Paris, too.”
In order to better explain the depth of the subject to you, I should say: We talked up to the Surname Law!
He also asked if fifty minutes would be enough for the recital, and the brand of the piano.
He was very pleased that there were guests from Istanbul to his concert, and we also had a Japanese guest. We talked about it. However, he always had an attitude that you could feel that all these questions were not meant to measure and weigh the other person, but were just genuinely curious.
When I asked him what he would prefer for lunch and dinner the next day, he replied, “I may be Greek, but I don't like fish. I don't want international cuisine either, I want real Turkish food. I'm good with pain, kebab for example?"
As she is very sensitive about timing, she reevaluated the rehearsal time with Rüya Taner, who will take the stage as a surprise artist on the morning of the concert, and clarified the time we will meet in the lobby for the next morning.
He told me that he found the car we bought him from the airport luxurious, and that I should come with my own car tomorrow, if any. I escorted him to his room, then I left the hotel.
16 December – Concert Day
- Morning Rehearsal
We met again in the hotel lobby. This time, we came with my own vehicle, together with his wife Zeynep.
We headed towards my car, and there was an intimate meeting with my wife.
While asking whether Katsaris should sit in the front or back, he opened the door with his own hands and made my wife sit in the back.
He then sat on the seat next to me and fastened his seat belt. His first words were “Do you look for the dream? He should definitely bring the notes we will play for the four hands”.
In the daytime, Ankara and my wife were included in the team, and the journey to the hall was full of conversation.
We evaluated the length of the Eskişehir road and the residence and housing projects that ended like mushrooms one by one. Of course, the person who knows here was my wife, who is an architect.
When we got to the hall, Rüya Taner had just arrived. We were meeting him for the first time, but the intimacy and friendship between him and Katsaris were evident instantly.
Dream Hodja did not refuse Katsaris's offer of a surprise artist and would take the stage in our hall. Of course, the excitement doubled for us.
Our family friend, who was going to photograph all these special moments, took his place in Kayhan with his equipment and asked Katsaris if she would be disturbed by the shooting during the rehearsal.
Cyprien's response made us all laugh: "You can do whatever you want, I wouldn't mind if you detonated a bomb"
Now I want you to pause for a moment and imagine that moment.
You open a classical music concert hall with your own means. On a sunny winter morning on Saturday, Cyprien Katsaris and Rüya Taner are playing Dvorak and Brahms at your piano in a very pleasant atmosphere and tempo with laughter.
Of course, we circled around them with a camera in each hand.
When Cyprien was unsure of the piano's position, we moved from the middle of the hall to the end. After he had the Dream Hodja play some chords and quickly paced the hall and made acoustic measurements, he decided to give a recital with the lid open.
During these conversations, he will steal a piece that he has kept as a secret from us. “I hope it's Chopin Op 66,” I said to him. “Do you like Fantaisie-Impromptu very much?” he said with a smile. When she got the answer “yes”, she shared a short story.
Chopin did not want the publication of this work and asked his friends, who had copies, to destroy these copies. Katsaris ended the story by saying: "Good thing they didn't listen to him"
In the afternoon, our Dream Teacher left us to meet in the evening due to his busy schedule.
We're all together for lunch...
- Haji Arif Bey
Yes, the place might make you laugh, but Cyprien has made it clear that he ate the best kebab he's ever had.
During this dinner, we asked him for advice on many issues. Although I can't write specific recommendations for us here, he said, "I come from Paris, I don't charge a fee." Tell them that too” was an important implication.
Isn't it weird when you think about it? Just to be supportive, you get uncomfortably comfortable with a six to seven-hour flight to Ankara, ring and return the next day.
No, it's not weird. This must be what it means to be an international artist.
We even teased Khatia Buniatishvili in chat. We asked many famous names with awesome Paris gossip.
We listened to whom each artist received training at a young age, and what they did later, due to their close circle.
We took notes on a few issues that concern us for the future, and we listened to what he would do.
Although we suggested a short city tour after dinner, Cyprien said, “For me, the concert is always a priority. Now I want to rest," he said, so we drove him to his hotel.
When we approached the door of the hotel, he said "don't get out of the car, it's cold" and opened the door and got out.
He bent down and waved and disappeared inside.
- Concert: Before and After
We were in the hall around 18:30. She came out of the backstage with a very stylish outfit. He said he wanted to work privately before the guests were received, so we left the hall to him and went to the foyer area.
During the concert, I translated both the pieces he would play and his short speeches.
It was an incredible feeling to be with him on stage.
I can describe the peak moment of this as follows; He finished his piece and stood up in applause. I was walking towards him, thinking that he was going to tell the next piece, and again getting up for the translation, when he implied with his hand "You don't need to come" and sent me back to my place.
He then pointed to me and said to the guests, "Now I'm going to play a piece that he likes very much, Chopin, Fantaisie-Impromptu."
This giant name, who gave a concert at Carnegie Hall, is interpreting your favorite song just because you sang it in between words. Moreover, in my opinion, he is the best performer of this piece!
Of course, these moments are experiences to be told for a lifetime, and when you think about it, they still seem like dreams.
Towards the end of the concert, when he went to his room in the backstage and returned with the notes of Cemal Reşit Rey, all the audience were surprised but also emotional.
After a wonderful Zeybek interpretation, Rüya Taner personally announced, and the excitement and enthusiasm of the people in the hall had reached an unspeakable level.
Ruya Taner, who came from the hall to the bewildered and enthusiastic applause, embraced Katsaris.
It was the first time in my life that I was listening to the four-hand piano live. Moreover, in my own salon and from two gorgeous names!
At the end of the concert, all smartphone memories were filled with photos and video recordings.
He took care of the guests one by one and shared many anecdotes and stories about classical music with guests from the community.
Not sure if the photo shoot was over, Cyprien came up to me and said, "Can I take off my clothes now, what do you say?" I should add that you asked.
After long and pleasant conversations, first the guests and then we left the hall.
Although he was planning to go to the hotel because he was tired, when he changed his mind on the way, we ended up at Uludağ Kebab!
My wife, me and Katsaris.
His "Meatballs", which he liked very much and pronounced sympathetically, were carefully prepared and presented to him.
Cherry juice, the thing he enjoyed drinking most, accompanied him in almost every meal.
We told him about a few long-term plans, he was pleased.
17 December – Farewell
Cyprien had asked the waiter several times about "Borek" at Uludağ Kebab Restaurant, this detail did not escape my wife. When we got up in the morning, Zeynep had fried the spring rolls for herself and put them in a bowl.
After breakfast, we headed to the hotel with a chauffeur driven vehicle. It was a bad morning for me.
We met in the lobby, after check-out, we got into the vehicle. During the journey, Zeynep was happy like a child when she showed the surprise of the pastry she had prepared for herself. He said he would put it in his suitcase and eat it in Paris. He also took advice from my wife about heating.
During the trip we showed the old Assembly, as it was the first place he asked on the day of his arrival. Let me write for those who do not know, Katsaris' first visit to Ankara took place on our occasion.
As we approached the airport, I asked him about his teacher, Madame Bruchollerie. As someone who started piano late, my main goal was to get tips.
Katsaris began lessons with Madame at the age of sixteen. Madame was a student of Emil von Sauer. That's Franz Liszt.
Over the years, we listened, hoping that the discipline of teaching would not change.
Katsaris: “I would start by playing scales for half an hour every day. It was forbidden to stop when I was tired, but I could slow down the pace. Octaves later. That's about twenty minutes. Madame always said: 'An artist cannot perform his art well without a good foundation'.
Katsaris told me about Madame's handwritten notes in her library, which had been rendered illegible by the warnings she had written on it.
This is the opportunity! I asked if he could send a scan of any page. I added that if he sent it, I would frame it and hang it in the living room.
He smiled and said he would send it. He understood us and we understood him very well.
When we arrived at the airport, our eyes were a little moist, and we bid him farewell to the last point. He insisted on giving priority to a lady behind him in the queue.
He waved at us until we were out of sight; He left behind a tremendous experience and memory.