In September there is another opportunity to listen to classic music in the perfect setting on the shore of the Fethiye Gulf.

Anatolian Philharmonic Orchestra at the Fethiye Classical Music Festival 4th October 2012

In commemoration of Benyamin Sönmez

Over the last few years, the Fethiye Classic Music Festival has become an annual event to commemorate the young Turkish musician, Benyamin Sönmez.

Benyamin was born on 16th January 16, 1983, in Bremen, Germany. At the age of three, he and his family returned to Turkey, where he became a highly repected Turkish classical cellist.

By the time, he was 17, having proved his superior musical skills, he came first in the national cello contest. In 2000 he was given a place within the BBC soloists and the following year won a special award at the International Young Concert Artists Contest organized in Leipzig, Germany.

Benyamin Sonmez became prize winner in the 2006 International Adam Cello Festival and Competition in New Zealand that was chaired by Rostropovich.

Sönmez, receiving great attention and admiration at each country he visited, had a rich repertoire from Bach to Sofia Gubaidulina. He also had master class performances with the great cellists like Rostropovich, David Geringas, Philippe Muller, Alexander Rudin, Stefan Popov, Frans Helmerson, Ruben Dobrovsky, Miklós Perényi and Yo-Yo Ma.

Sonmez has also studied authentic performance of the Cello Suites of Bach, together with the master of baroque cello Anner Bylsma. Of the important music festivals, he was invited to the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival and Oleg Kagan International Music Festival in Germany, the International Adam Cello Festival & Competition in New Zealand, RNCM Manchester International Cello Festival in the United Kingdom and Istanbul International Music Festival in Turkey.

His last invitation was to the 80th birthday of M. Rostropovich in 2007. Sonmez, who has performed duo concerts with Oxana Yablonskaya, played his art at important musical centers such as Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam, Moscow, New York, Washington D.C. and Istanbul. By this time he was living in istanbul, Turkey.


His repertoire included modern composers including Dmitri Shostakovich, Alfred Schnittke, Giya Kancheli, Sofia Gubaidulina, Ástor Piazzolla and Zoltán Kodály as well as the composers of Baroque and other eras.

He played an 18th-century Matteo Goffriller cello from Venice, Italy.

Benyamin Sonmez died in Ankara on December 1, 2011, aged just 28. He had a heart attack. Following the funeral ceremony at the Hacettepe University Conservatory, his body was transferred to Fethiye, Muğla Province, where he was laid to rest. (Wikipedia) 

This year’s programme and performers


This year at the opening concert one of Turkey’s finest pianists, Gülsin Onay, will be playing music by Beethoven, Debussy and Chopin. She recently made the following comments in connection with the festival:

Unfortunately, we only realized how much Benyamin Sönmez had achieved in his brief life after we lost him; he was only 28 years old when he died. It is now our duty to make his dream come true and contribute to training young, talented musicians in Turkey. It is my good fortune to be able to support the organizers of this festival who are helping to make this happen.”

All the concerts are free of charge.


Gülsin Onay piano recital

16th September: 21:00 at the Fishermen’s Wharf, Fethiye



17th September: 21:00 at the Fishermen’s Wharf, Fethiye


Maestro: Ertuğ Korkmaz

Soloist: Poyraz Baltacıgil, Cello

19th September: 21:00 at the Fishermen’s Shelter, Fethiye

Concert area.

Sunset concerts


17th September: 18:30 hours at D-Marin, Göcek


18th September: 18:30 at D-Marin Göcek


19th September: 18:30 at D-Marin Göcek