Now in its eighth year, the Benyamin Sönmez Classical Music Festival returns to Fethiye, welcoming artists from all across Turkey to pay tribute to the late Benyamin Sönmez, one of the greatest musical talents in the contemporary world.
Who is Benyamin Sönmez?
Young cellist Benyamin Sönmez, who was discovered and sponsored by legendary violinist Anne Sophie Mutter, was recognised as one of the greatest talents in the contemporary world. Born in Bremen in 1983, Benyamin started his training at the Ankara State Conservatory at the age of 14. Three years later he proved his musical genius by coming first in the National Cello Contest. He went on to win an award at the International Cello Festival and Competition in New Zealand, sponsored by M. Rostropovich.
Benyamin spent five years studying with world-renowned cellist, Natalia Gutman, in Germany and Russia. He was one of the few cellists who had the opportunity to work with this great master and, during these years, had the opportunity to meet other notable musicians, writers and artists.
During his training in Moscow, he played before M. Rostropovich, the greatest cellist of the twentieth century, and attended master classes of many renowned cellists such as David Geringas, Yo-Yo Ma and Anner Bylsma. During his career, Benyamin accumulated a vast repertory, ranging from the works of seventeenth century Marin Marasto Arvo Part, Penderecký, Giya Kancheli, Alfred Schnittke, Durilleus, Schonberg and twentieth century, Benjamin Britten. He was named as “one of the most creative cellists” by music authorities as a result of his unique performances. He was invited to perform at prestigious festivals such as Manchester Cello Festival, Adam Cello Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Istanbul Music Festival, Ankara Music Festival and Tivoli Music Festival.
Highly appreciated wherever he played, Benyamin Sönmez was working on various projects with famous maestros such as Valery Gergiev, Sir Andre Previn, Kurt Masur and their orchestras, sponsored by Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation. During his concerts, the cellist played with a Paolo Maggini cello made in 1610 and loaned to him by Maggini Stiftung.
The young cellist died on December 1, 2011, at the age of 28, after suffering a heart attack in Ankara. His body was transferred to Fethiye, where he was laid to rest
Benyamin may no longer be with us, but his legacy lives on.