G”ker and Jenkins perform in Turkish presidential memorial

Bonnie Alger

Violinist Burcu G”ker and pianist Eric Jenkins, both juniors, are already establishing themselves in the professional
music world. The pair made a portfolio last spring that contained sample concert programs and CDs and DVDs of their musical work. The portfolio
had information on both of them, ranging from competitions they had won to their academic backgrounds. They sent these folders to music festivals all over in an attempt to get performance opportunities
– something that can be hard to come by when you are busily balancing a college student’s life with a budding professional career. They were successful.
In late November, G”ker and Jenkins received an invitation
to perform at the memorial service for Ismet In”n, the second president of G”ker’s native Turkey. They were the only two musicians
selected to perform. G”ker and Jenkins’ folder had ended up in the hands of the editor of the Turkish counterpart
of Reader’s Digest, and he was so taken with the duo that he helped organize the service and offered to pay the expenses – including airfare, hotel and meals in Turkey. G”ker said, “[He’s] a really good journalist, 40 years in the news field; [he] interviewed [Maria] Callas at the beginning of his career.” She remembers watching him on television
when she was a child.
Right after finals, G”ker and Jenkins flew to Istanbul, arriving on Dec. 12 where they stayed for a week. From Istanbul the pair flew to Ankara, Turkey’s capital. The day after arriving at the airport, the two checked out the concert hall they were to be performing in and were delighted to find it had favorable acoustics.
During their stay in Turkey, G”ker and Jenkins were the focus of lots of media attention. The memorial service
was televised, a fact G”ker was informed of prior to the event, and which she kept from Jenkins. “I knew Eric would be so nervous if he knew about the cameras!” she said. The day of the service, Jenkins asked, “Why are there so many cameras?” to which Go”ker replied, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you; it will be live on TV!” The two presented
a program of works by Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel and Ahmet Adnan Saygun, as well as one of G”ker’s own compositions. G”ker’s parents were in attendance, as well as many of Turkey’s government officials.
G”ker and Jenkins were interviewed by several newspapers, and many commented
on the two being students at Lawrence. G”ker remarked that their appearance gave them a chance to act as ambassadors from Lawrence and to put Lawrence’s name on the map. “Lawrence is a good university, [and this was] a really good presentation for Lawrence,” she said.
The duo has already started making
plans for the next few years. “[It is a] priority for us to apply to grad school,” says G”ker. The two wish to attend the same school for their graduate
work, and are specifically
in Indiana University and the New England Conservatory. They both want to perform and possibly teach at the university level. In the more immediate future, G”ker and Jenkins will be giving a performance in December 2006 at the American University in Turkey, and will be graduating from Lawrence in June 2007, G”ker with majors in violin performance and theory/composition, Jenkins in piano performance.