Ayse Goknur Shanal

Ayşe Göknur Shanal.

Ayse Göknur Shanal on "Songs for Refugees"

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Ayşe Göknur Shanal, the 2001 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship winner, describes Opera as “one of the most beautiful mediums of art”. For her, opera “holds a mirror to society, in the context of history, past present or future”.

In the 16 years since her time competing on Sydney Eisteddfod stages, Ayşe’s focus shifted from singing to law and has once again returned to singing, her true passion that she describes as “a very organic and natural thing”.

Her upcoming concert ‘A Song for Refugees’, which will be held on Thursday 28 September at the Sydney Opera House, Utzon Room hopes to raise awareness and much needed funds to an issue that is very close to her heart.

“The idea for this concert was a seed I have been watering since September 2015 when I saw the image of the Syrian toddler with the tiny jeans shorts and red t-shirt washed up on the Turkish shores. It broke me,” she revealed.

Through the help of many heartfelt individuals the fundraising concert has finally come together and is set to be a huge success with many notable VIPs set to attend.

“I got in touch with one of the wonderful mums in the group Mums4Refugees, and told her the idea. She was on board straight away and said 'let's make it happen!”

“I then got in touch with cellist Kenichi Mizushima… I also spoke to Harry Collins, who is an incredible multi-faceted and talented musician. When they both said yes, I was absolutely thrilled and excited that together we could come up with an inspiring, emotionally charged program, which will make this evening very memorable” she said.

In addition to all the preparation for the fundraising concert, Ayşe has been working on bringing to life “A Tribute to Maria Callas” along with soprano Claire Munting.

“We are both Callas fanatics and have our own personal stories about our connection to La Divina” shared Ayşe.

She also revealed Maria Callas has always been an inspiration for her as an aspiring singer and still today at this point in her career.

“There is no one, even today, who can move a listener like Callas. She bared her soul to her audience. And this is how I perform for my audience now, from a place of honesty, vulnerability, passion and joy, at the risk of losing it all. She is the ultimate inspiration.”

When reflecting on the best piece of performance advice she has ever heard, she revealed that as a performer you are constantly “given advice”. But for her she always comes back to “ be in the moment and listen to the quiet place of your own heart.”

Ayşe also emphasised the importance of opportunities such as Sydney Eisteddfod for young aspiring performers across all areas of the performing arts.

“Sydney Eisteddfod’s contribution to the Arts speaks for itself, by the countless number of success stories of artists, who have used it as their very first performance platform, where they honed their skills, in order to be able go out into the world and realise their dreams”.

“I have always felt supported by the organisation and it provided me with a huge milestone. The Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship provided me the means to go overseas. I was accepted as a young artist at the Met during that time and I could use the funds to further my career”.

In 2017, she also had the opportunity to adjudicate various events in the Classical Singing category, which she described as a “nostalgic experience” as well as a great opportunity for her to pass on her own experience to younger singers.

Sydney Eisteddfod wishes Ayşe the best of luck with both of her upcoming performances and thanks her for her contribution as an adjudicator to the 2017 Sydney Eisteddfod festival season.