Shining geniuses of classical music: Jamal Aliyev, Ece Dağıstan

Although it is said that it is no longer possible to make life better through the pure object of art, we have a history full of artists who use objects and want to make life different. Langlois was therefore right when he said that a well-painted carrot painting might be enough to win a revolution. It should not be forgotten that the fact that art is a flow and shows us that it is something that can be shaped while being made, not preformed. And this, of course, is everything that is unpredictable. As Harrison and Wood put it, “The artist is always busy writing a detailed history of the future because he is the only one who is aware of the nature of the present.”

They are important artists of two different cultures that are quite familiar with each other but have managed to become a perfect whole with their differences; Jamal Aliyev and Ece Dağıstan. While they present a message to other people as creators, they also present an aesthetic world by combining different materials. Both performing and composing bring constant work and discipline. Jamal said, “It’s not OK for me to say it’s OK, there’s always something better because the measure for me is that first myself and then my audiences affected by my work.”

The muses of the duo, who represent a tremendous harmony onstage, actually appear as an example of a conscious “intensive work.” This is why it is possible to see the pieces of creativity in each performance they stage and to interpret them from a mystical point of view.

Jamal Aliyev, who comes from a family where almost every member is a musician, met the cello at the age of 5. The fact that his first teacher was his grandfather proves that an artist is fed by the environment and socio-economic environment in which he lives. “My mother was a cellist, my father was a violinist, my grandfather was a cellist, and my grandmother was a pianist. Music was very interesting to me at a young age. I started music education with the cello at the age of 5. I haven’t tried it, but I couldn’t be more passionately committed to any other instrument than the cello. Growing up in a musical family was very important. After coming home from school, they would always listen to me while I was playing the cello and correct me if I was wrong. In terms of my career, it was a great chance for me that my family is a musician.”

Ece’s adventure begins with the death of an old pianist in the neighborhood where she lived, when she was only 4 years old. “When the piano is being taken out of the house, my father sights it and buys this old instrument.”

In the following periods, her family sent her siblings for private piano lessons. However, when they seemed not too enthusiastic about music, time Ece started attending the classes as a replacement. “The lessons were not very enjoyable, as I remember, learning musical notes and an over-disciplined teacher were not very attractive for a young child. I was usually able to play whatever I heard, and it is agreed that I am talented, and they put me in the conservatory exams right after I finished primary school.”

At this point, we see that parents are the most important factor that affects their children’s lives in many ways. Positive relations between parents and their children, especially from early childhood, can affect children’s academic success, social relations and motivation to explore. Although it may seem like a chain of coincidences that Ece lived through, this event is actually a tremendous result of her parents’ flawless behavior management.

“I feel like I can’t turn to a non-art subject anyway. Talent is always the individual who expresses himself/herself in one way or another as long as there are parents with awareness.”

Royal Albert Hall Promp concert

Scenes and the extraordinary architectural structures in which they are located are the determining elements of the aesthetic elements. We know that the first opera house open to the public, “Teatro di San Cassiano,” has carried both the opera, the life of the artists involved in its creation, and the audience to a different dimension related to their aesthetic experience. A symbol of the love between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, The Royal Albert Hall made a mark in history with its story and architecture. It continues to host the world’s leading artists from many performance genres from past to present. Jamal Aliyev won great acclaim when he performed a live solo performance with the BBC Concert Orchestra at The BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall for the 85th birthday of film composer John Williams in 2017. Jamal said these are the moments that matter most to him. “I’ve been playing the cello since I was 5 years old, actually the cello has always been in my life, so I don’t remember when I first went onstage. Back then, the cello was like a game that I had a good time with, which made me very happy. But the most special concert in my career so far is the Promp concert at the Royal Albert Hall. It is a very historical and important hall, and the festival is world-famous. It was a concert watched by millions of people around the world, as it was broadcast live on radio and television.”

The dynamics of the artistic creation process and how artistic creations are formed are still subject to research. The motoric creation step is defined as developing a new motor skill. But the most important step is that the artist creates an original product that has not been made until now, by using the methods he has acquired before. Although the content in art progresses on a sociological basis, the fact that a creation has no equal shows that artistic products are also a personal creation. Although what makes a work of art unique can be imitated, the fact that it has no equal as a creation makes each artist unique in their own way. “It is not enough to be able to play well, it is only necessary to internalize the piece,” said Ece Dağıstan and adds, “First, I get to know the work and read it. Then his physical work begins…”

In fact, with her instrument, Ece presents an activity in which a spiritual statement emerges. Accordingly, her stage performances are deeply “one-off,” and have a personal character. “When you look at the works you have worked on, there are many differences between working on the same work 10 years ago, five years ago or today. Here is the complete part, as if it is impossible for me, art is never complete, there is always more.”

In order to achieve musical goals, determining the right technique and application of all instrumental techniques accurately are important when composing music. In string instruments, technical elements related to the right and left hands appear as tools used by the player to reach musical goals. However, researching the most appropriate and effective usage possibilities for the anatomy in the use of these tools and determining the correct technique can significantly affect the result. Therefore, it makes sense to carefully establish the infrastructure for the implementation of the necessary technique during the instrument training process. Jamal emphasizes that every cellist has a unique voice.

“Tone production: Just as a singer uses his/her voice in the best way, it signifies reaching the right tone with the arche in cello. That’s what we work hard for. Finding your own voice is very important. People who know cellists or understand classical music without knowing who he is can say that this is Jamal Aliyev’s work. I play one of the best cellos in the world, which of course helps me a lot.”

Music performance concerns

From the first years of professional music education, there is the phenomenon of “performance” that every musician continues to experience throughout his/her life, passing through various stages. This important phenomenon, which is intertwined with many psychological and physiological factors, directly affects the performance quality of the person. Although the person is experienced onstage, he/she may encounter unexpected negative situations during a performance. For example, the world-famous pianist Glenn Gould played only on records for 18 years and spent his life dealing with drug addiction due to stage performance anxiety during concerts. Again, pianist Vladimir Horowitz, Leopold Godowsky, Steven Osborne, and opera singer Renée Fleming are classical music artists who are known to have struggled with stage fright.

At this point, it is possible to talk about certain methods and techniques that have been recorded in literature onstage fright controls related to music performance anxiety. Of course, inheriting these suggestions from artists personally is gold for musicians preparing for a performance in classical music. Jamal Aliyev underlines the traditional methods mentioned by instrument teachers and passed on to the written sources. “For example, a technique that has not been studied well can still make a person anxious during the performance. It can be said that suggestions for regular daily exercises, certain exercises (special exercises developed for each instrument) or rehearsing a few times on the stage where the performance is scheduled before a certain period of time, are traditional methods. Another element that can be evaluated in traditional methods can be the subject of memorization. In the performance preparation processes, one of the situations that can put an artist under stress is that the piece to be performed should be performed by heart.”

According to Ece, in order to reduce stage anxiety, cognitive strategies should be considered in the four stages that occur before the stage, during the concert and after the concert, especially during the preparatory stage of the concert. Therefore, works that are well known technically and musically reduce performance anxiety indirectly. “Some people are born with low stress-levels. These are the people I admire very much. I’ve personally had stress a lot of times that I couldn’t handle. In fact, when I was a student in Vienna, I even left the hall unannounced the moment I was going to take the stage. But the kind of music I choose to make now contains a level of stress that I can tolerate. So there is no problem.”

Jamal and Ece were met with great interest with their duo projects “Until,” and “I met You” in August 2022. They managed to fascinate listeners with their album “Bliss,” which consists of new classical arrangements of Zülfü Livaneli’s songs “Snowy Beech Forest,” “Yiğidim Aslanım,” “Kardeşin Duymaz,” and “Happiness.” The single “Libertango,” which took its place on all digital platforms on May 19, was introduced to audiences as the cello and piano arrangement of the tango piece by the famous Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla.

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