Are there certain songs that make you glad you’re a musician as you’re performing them?
“This is true for all of the songs we play onstage, whether it’s world music or operatic arias like Nessun dorma. But my favorite melody of all time is Johann Strauss’s famous waltz The Blue Danube. Every year I choose a completely new program for our concerts, but I play The Blue Danube every night, and no matter where I am in the world, people jump up from their seats and start to dance.”
You and your orchestra incorporate local songs from the countries where you perform in your program. How do you choose these pieces? It must be challenging.
“Yes, that’s absolutely true. I always try to implement local melodies into my program, so I listen to the music of each country we go to ask myself, ‘Which one is your favorite?’ If it touches my heart, and if it’s a song that everyone knows and loves, I play it. In 2014, for example, we played ‘Üsküdar’a Gider İken’ and ‘Kasap Havası’ when we visited Istanbul.”
What do you think about Turkish audiences?
“They love to sing. I remember long lines of people doing the sirtaki and Turkish folk dances through the whole arena at my last concert.”
You’re one of the best-known musicians in the world. Career-wise, is there anything left that you still want to do?
“Yes! I would love to play on the moon!”