Can Atilla’s Gallipoli symphony set for international premiere in London with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra


In this centenary year of the end of the Great War, the Gallipoli Friendship Concert featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will commemorate those who lost their lives in the 1915-16 Gallipoli Campaign, and build on the enduring legacy of friendship it inspired between Turkey and the Commonwealth nations.

The programme, presented by the Yunus Emre Institute in London, will start with a unique scene-setting introduction given by bestselling author Louis de Bernieres from his novel Birds Without Wings, which is partly set in Gallipoli.

The musical focus of the concert is Turkish composer Can Atilla’s powerful 2015 requiem symphony Gallipoli – the 57th Regiment, written specially for the centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign and which makes its international debut at Cadogan Hall. The composition cleverly uses Edwardian English tonalities to capture the pathos of the campaign, Atatürk’s role and his magnanimity in victory.

Two lyrical soprano passages remind us of Atatürk’s immortal words, committing the fallen “Johnnies and Mehmets” to Turkish soil; and a poem by the First World War Australian writer John le Gay Brereton.

Contemporary Turkish composer Can Atilla / Facebook

These are in stark contrast Atatürk’s command to the 57th Regiment before the first Allied attack: “Men, I am not ordering you to attack. I am ordering you to die. In the time that it takes us to die, other forces and commanders can come and take our place.” The 57th lost 628 men and has never been re-formed in tribute to their selfless sacrifice.

The Royal Philharmonic will be conducted by one of Turkey’s foremost musical interpreters Burak Tüzün, Director of the Haceteppe University Symphony Orchestra and lecturer at the Ankara State Conservatoire. Two other leading Turkish artists, soprano Angela Ahıskal and cellist Onur Şenler, also feature prominently.

The full programme:

Symphony 2, Gallipoli, the 57th Regiment by Can Atilla

Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Butterworth: A Shropshire Lad

Elgar: Enigma Variations – Nimrod & Finale

The event is being held under the auspices of the Turkish Presidency and is being supported by the Royal British Legion.

A portion of the events ticket sales will be donated to the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation, the charitable arm of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which maintains the graves of almost 50,000 troops on the Gallipoli peninsula in perpetuity.

Concert Details

Title: Gallipoli Friendship Concert

Date: Thursday 5 April 2018

Start time: 7.30pm

Venue: Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ

Admission: Tickets are priced £18 to £45 including booking fee, available online 

Promoter info: Yunus Emre Institute (London)  

Main photo: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra