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Tolga Gurdil : By good planning, a talented young child can choose music and be very successful at it

Interview with Tolga Gurdil

Tolga Gurdil is a Turkish composer and producer, President of Maestro&Elizabeth International Art Organization Company, President of Shining Star Festival, Director Responsible for Children and Youth Festivals of World Association Festivals and Artists “WAFA”. Mr. Gurdil had participated in numerous festivals across the world, the most recent being Euroritm Festival 2014 in Romania, International Children Art Festival "TRIXIE" in Bulgaria, Sanremo Music Festival in Italy, etc. as a member of jury or president of international jury.

Tell us your story (about you, your hobbies, interests, your background). Why did you decided to dedicate your time mainly to this activities related to music. Where does this love for music and festivals come from? Do you have any musical background?

First of all I would like to thank you for this interview. Throughout my life I have always been interested in Music and Arts and they have always been my hobbies. At the same time History, Literature and Painting have also been very important activities in my life. I am also interested in collections of art in different categories. Actually my mother is a painter, though I cannot paint. During my childhood I played tennis and I have got some awards which I won in the tennis tournaments. I was also snowboarding when I was in high-school. Unfortunately, in the last fifteen years I have no time to spare for sports. I do some walking and exercises from time to time and that is all.


For 6-7 years now I am organizing international music festivals. My love for music came from my family, while my love for festivals came from my dear friend Mrs. Figen Cakmak, who introduced me to festivals when I was only 17, when she invited me to International Sopot International Song Festival in Poland, as composer and participant. Mrs. Cakmak was the representative of the festival from Turkey. It was my first experience and I won the award of Best Composer at that festival. There followed some other interesting festivals where I won more awards. This is how festivals and cultural organizations became most important things in my life . Presently, I am invited mostly as member of jury, or I am organizing festivals helped by Mrs. Cakmak, whose advice and decisions are important to me. Ms. Figen Cakmak is presently the president of WAFA (World Association of Festivals and Arts). I am the director of Children and Youth Festivals in the same organization. In such a way we are still working together in the field of music, doing the most special and beautiful work together. It’s not always easy, but we have plenty of ideas coming up. I think this is what we call addiction.

How is music developed in Turkey? What is the rate of festivals organized in Istanbul? Do you often go to festivals in Turkey?

In Turkey we mostly listen to authentic music. Their themes are coming from the original folklore. Even if the background may be imported from international pop music, the songs carry the Turkish motives, that sound very oriental. Istanbul is a big city, it could be almost compared to another country, with about 20 milion of people living there. Though classical music is not very popular in Turkey, there are people who love and listen to this and other styles and genres. When international artists come for concerts, the concert halls are fully booked and you can not find any free tickets. There are also many festivals in Istanbul. But they are all in the form of concerts and not competitions. For the time being the only festival of this kind in Turkey is the festival we are organizing: Internatıonal Shınıng Star and there we would like to have you with us.

How many countries have you travelled to while participating in festivals? What are the countries you would like to go back to someday again or see the new ones?

I have participated in festivals travelling to more than 20 countries. Each country and each city has its own beauties. They are all different. At the same time I don't like unexpected surprises in my life. I guess my adventurous side is tired. However, thinking about hotels, restaurants, and their good quality festivals, I can say I can always go to Cannes in France. It is a city very much close to my habits and a city which doesn't tire me at all.

Do you remember the first music festivals that you had attended as member of the jury? What were your impressions? How did it start?

I surely remember so many of them. If I were to name any, it would not be fair to the others. So let me not name any festival. What I would like to mention, is that our WAFA festivals always start with a very special introduction. The festivals in Malta, Italy, Romania and Turkey are very good examples to this. All the participants from different countries enter the stage with the WAFA song carrying the flags of their countries. This gives a special motivation to the participants and to the watching audience.
And maybe because my first time as a member of international jury happened at one of the WAFA festivals in Malta, presided by General Secretary Mr. Robert Cefai, this island will always stay special in my life.

What are your most memorable festivals in the last few years? What does it make them be different?

If I must say openly, the thing that makes a festival successful is its BUDGET. The more sponsors it has and the bigger its budget is, more successful it will be. For that reason I wouldn't want to specify on any one of them. Each festival I have participated in is a part of me. I am sure all the festival presidents are doing their best to make their festival special.

What are your plans for the nearest future? Are you planning to go back to Istanbul, or you plan to participate in more festivals? Where do you plan to go next?

I live in Istanbul. All my cast, my office and my other commercial works are in Istanbul. But since I attend many international festivals, I am most of the time abroad. The next festival we are working on will take place in Istanbul. Preparations are still going on and we have great plans. In the meantime another invitation to the festival may come up. But for sure I must stay some days in Istanbul and work on my own festival.

What do you think about young participants and competition they have to face at contests? How good are these festivals in building healthy competition between young people, what are the negative and positive aspects of participating in a contest?

I believe competition is a very good and helping practice. The participants learn a lot from festivals. They make friends learning to support each other. This is a wonderful thing to watch and to see. I have witnessed many young and promising singers in the last five years, who may become world stars in the future. I hope they will go on - and this is most important.

How important are festivals and competitions for children – parent relation?

Most parents are supporting their children. I am very happy to see this. In Turkey things are a little different. In Turkey music is viewed by families only like a hobby. But in most other countries music is regarded as an occupation. These parents believe that by good planning, a talented young child can choose music as an occupation and can be very successful at it. I believe families must think in this way. Our world needs more young well educated stars.

Tolga Gurdil
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