Fethiye’s antique theatre was almost full to capacity for Wednesday night’s concert as part of the 5th Fethiye Culture & Arts Festival. It was a tribute to Zülfü Livaneli, a 65-year-old musician, composer, author, poet and one-time politician.

He also spent his early years in Fethiye when his father was Chief Prosecutor for the town – a fact we hadn’t known prior to attending the concert.

We had thought the evening could be embarrassing – famous man watching a group of school kids re-enact his life – but we could not have been more wrong.

Firstly we hadn’t realised the extent to which the Turks, or at least the couple of thousand or more at the concert, respect and esteem this highly educated, talented man who politically is a died in the wool Kemalist which is not such a popular thing to be in Turkey these days.

The retelling of his life story was done well – two girls read his story at opposite ends of front stage, with the middle being left open for other young people to pop in and out, dramatizing particularly poignant or amusing moments.

When Livaneli reached adulthood, by which time he was in exile, having left Turkey on a false passport to avoid being jailed for his political beliefs in the ultra rightwing 70s, he was played by an adult playing the saz and singing who could almost be a Livaneli lookalike (we wonder if there is a lookalike market in Turkey?).

The finale had the entire audience singing along as the Belediye band, with two singers and a choir of little girls in white, sang his song ‘Leylim Ley’.

The antique theatre in Fethiye 5th Fethiye Culture & Arts Festival

Following this the man himself took to the stage with the Mayor to be presented with his freedom of Fethiye and various other mementoes and then, of course, he sang a song – unaccompanied and with the audience belting out the chorus.

A very emotional evening and one we are so glad we were part of.

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