Who has not enchanted by the harp, which was seen as a symbol of beauty in antiquity, with its graceful charming voice resembling water drops, and its appearance reminiscent of ancient sculptures?
Fatma Ceren Necipoğlu, as well, must have experienced this feeling at an early age. When she was born in Istanbul, as the second daughter of Vedat Bey and Selcuk Hanim, in 1973, the history of harp training had not yet completed a quarter of a century and the harp had not yet become one of the popular instruments of the orchestras of young Republic.
Unfortunately, harp training was limited to conservatories and the number of trainers was extremely low. Besides, it was a costly instrument. For the harp art and harp training, effort was needed, trainers were needed, young people were needed and years were needed.
Ceren met and loved the harp during her years of Pendik Merkez Primary School. When she was admitted to the preparatory class for part-time harp training at the Istanbul University State Conservatory, the harp obviously must have been ruling her child world.
Being enrolled in the conservatory at an early age, maintaining school classes on the one hand and music lessons like solfeggio, harmony on the other, working on partitions to play, undoubtedly required a child to take her play time. Fatma Ceren Necipoğlu, no doubt, experienced all these by making many sacrifices, with her love for harp.
The happiness she felt when she first picked up the harp that her family ordered from abroad was worthy of novels, as we listened from her beloved father. Again in the memories of her beloved mother; when her friends came to invite her to play outside, as they heard the harp sound, how meaningful it was that they waited on the stairs until the end of her piece? In the following years, she would never break with her instrument as from her secondary education period at Istanbul German High School. Hence, she continued her harp education with enthusiasm until she graduated from the advanced class of the same conservatory, in the mean time, she completed an important department of Bogaziçi University, Translation and Interpreting, and gained the title of a talented translator. I must here state that I had listened from her teachers what a diligent student she was. Moreover, she became a person of culture and a multilingual translator with her English, German and French, and made important translations for scientific journals.
Obviously, in addition to her love of harp, she had established a crucial “bond and partnership” with her instrument. She received a scholarship and completed a Master's Degree in Harp Arts at Louisiana State University in the United States. Soon after, she continued her studies and researches at the Cleveland Institute of Music and at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor College of Music. She was awarded a “Master’s Degree” in harp art, in the class of world-renowned Harpist and Pedagogue Susann McDonald at the Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. These were her education years, performance years and mastery years. Indeed, she got the chance to know the famous virtuosos of the harp (Judy Loman, Marie-Claire Jamet) during these years and also took chamber music lessons from distinguished masters (Dennis Parker, Christian Lardé, Kate Lucas). At the same time, she continued her active performing career as a guest artist in symphony orchestras of Indiana and Louisiana Universities, Ohio Light Opera Orchestra, Columbus Indiana Philarmonic, CRR Symphony Orchestra and Bilkent Symphony Orchestra.
After returning to Turkey, she appeared in concerts as a soloist with Bursa Regional State Symphony Orchestra, Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality Symphony Orchestra and Anadolu University Symphony Orchestra.
In 2009, she had performed Turkey premiere of the Harp Concerto “A Persian Reflection for Harp and Orchestra” (2006) by famous Iranian composer Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour, accompanied by our University Symphony Orchestra.
Fatma Ceren Necipoglu became acquainted with our university conservatory in 2001. In our former Rector Prof.Dr.Engin Ataç period, the years between 1997 and 2003 when I was the Director of the State Conservatory, were the years in which we established Oboe, Trumpet, Trombone, Percussion Instruments, Classical Guitar, Instrument Making and Opera Arts branches one after another and the years when our young Conservatory orchestra gained experience. Ceren Necipoglu and I, too, experienced the recognition of this attractive instrument as an art branch in a young conservatory from nothing. Moreover, in her first year in Eskisehir in which the harp artists were already rare, her participation in important concerts at the International Eskisehir Festival with the orchestra of our conservatory as a harp player was a “surprise” but set a very good example to the young artists. Ceren's experience in art and education was exemplary, and her dedication and effort in establishing the Harp Branch was very meaningful to us executives.
Through the recitals she performed at intervals, she announced the existence of the Harp within the Conservatory instrument family. With her rich international experience and foreign language skills, she always ran to aid of her colleagues.
She was a twinkle to the conservatory and finally, her students, that young saplings appeared in their first concert when they were still in high school. Obviously, she had been contemplating it for years. In those years, I admired her efforts and mastership as an educator. Ceren set a practical example of direct-instruction in our conservatory. Students of this young art branch participated in international competitions and work-shops in a short period of time with their teachers. They socialized with other art students at the events. She gave great importance to representation of our country abroad, she prepared her students with kindness, enthusiasm, rigour, and devoted all her time to them.
I always remember Ceren working and researching. She had a very rich library and knew the area literature well. Shouldn't it be necessary to lay the foundation for the first steps in the learning process in this way? I always saw her in a ball of love with her students, and always with seriousness in which sympathy and love do not diminish.
The lecture Ceren gave to her students did not begin and end in the conservatory classes. Thusly, her students achieved significant international successes. In May 2006, she organized the traditional Turkey Gathering of Harpists in Eskişehir and this organisation, hosted by her and Anadolu University, brought three different generations together and shed light on the future. It was an unforgettable first and historical meeting. Even today, we preserve in our memories her happiness as well as her determination of those days. Ceren Necipoğlu brought a new color to practice rooms of the conservatory.
Ceren would soon become one of the rare representatives of Harp art. The students she raised with great dedication at Anadolu University State Conservatory have always been honored to include her name on their résumés and will continue to be.
Ceren will always live with her work. She will continue to exist by carrying traces of herself in the styles of her students. She will continue to live because she instilled in her students the sacred sense of devotion to instrument in the art of music and musicianship. Her untimely passing away at such a young age deeply saddened firstly her family, of course, and her collegues, our university, our country, but also people around the World who knew and love her. But, despite her “short” career, she has managed to remain as a “monument” in our classical music world. Important composers from our country and the world have dedicated some works to her, these works have been interpreted and continue to be interpreted by orchestras and bands in all their diversity.
In this context, I should especially mention “Ceren Necipoğlu, Dedicated Works Workshop” organized by Lilian Maria Tonella Tuzun and her colleagues on March 22, 2018. Well-known foreign and Turkish composers dedicated their works to Ceren and expressed their views on Ceren's art and the works they dedicated. Ceren's students and guest artists interpreted these works. Of course, listening to the story of the creation of a composition dedicated to a harp artist from its owner has a different meaning, because these artists made astounding observations about the structure of the work in the language of music. But I know that those who know Ceren from all around the world will continue to write works dedicated to him.
The best hints as to Ceren Necipoğlu’s art career should be sought in her relationship with her instrument and her students. With an endless hunger to educate, she established an exemplary Harp department. She embraced music and harp education with all her being, that is to say, with her soul and lived it very deeply and worked for it. It was certain that she had devoted her life to this endeavor, including the last Rio concert. She, with her art and her understanding of education, opened an important door to the future for young artists. Dear Ceren Necipoğlu, with her name and art, will always live between us.