Composers

Mehmet Refık Kaya was born in Üsküdar, Istanbul in 1957. At an early age, he learned to repair various plucked and bow instruments from his luthier and oud playing father, Teoman Kaya. After completing his Bachelors from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University sculpture department, he completed his Masters in Istanbul Technical University Department of Social Sciences by representing Bahariye Mevlevihanesi and Hüseyin Fahrettin Dede. He completed his Doctoral Thesis on “Rebab from yesterday to today and bringing it back to life”

He has performed various plucked and bow instruments in various musical ensembles in Turkey, Europe and Asia. He has played in important music festivals domestically and internationally such as Istanbul Music Festival and collaborated with important musicians such as Ihsan Özgen by playing various instruments in his ensemble called “Anatolia.’ Between 1984-1985 he performed classical kemençe in the Istanbul Mayor’s Musical Interpretation Organization. After 1985, he dedicated himself to performing on the rebab. He improved and reconstructed the forgotten instrument and redefined it as “Refik-i Rebab” by playing challenging works of new expanded repertoire for this instrument. He has performed not only the most challenging works of Classical Turkish Music repertoire but also Western Classical Music. He recorded two Sufi Music Albums from Çağ Records in 1989 as wells as “Suzidilara Ayini” that he played every instrument in the album by himself, which was released by Kent Records. He has performed more than 500 concerts all around the world with his Sufi Music Ensemble. His live recording from Spain Murcia was released in Spain and titled as “Musica Sufi” in 1990. His album Ruhnüvaz (2005) that was released by Kalan Records reached to large audience in Turkey and abroad. His second album titled as Subh-u Seher included works by 17th century composers such as Ali Ufki and Prince Dimitrie Cantemir.

He has performed as soloist with Cemal Reşit Rey Symphony Orchestra in pianist composer Tuluyhan Uğurlu’s work Senfoni Türk. The first rebab concerto was written by Ilyas Mirzayev and dedicated to Mr. Kaya. The world premiere of the concerto was performed by Mr. Kaya with Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra in Istanbul. He has performed many concerts in United States with his guitarist son Celil Refik Kaya.

He has been performing all around the world as part of the Istanbul Historical Music Ensemble since 1994 as well as conducting music therapy in Johns Hopkins Hospital of Istanbul. Dr. Kaya continues performing with various musicians with wide range of projects under the title of Ruhnüvaz Concerts.

Celil Refik Kaya

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Since his concert debut at the age of 6, Celil Refik Kaya has received high promised repetitions and accolades for his myriad accomplishments at an early age, winning First Prize in the 2012 JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition with the Buffalo Philharmonic; Top prizewinner of international guitar competitions including Sofia Bulgaria, Naxos Greece, Vienna, Istanbul, and throughout the United States, highlighted awards winner at top competitions such as 2012 Guitar Foundation of America(GFA), Indiana International Guitar Competition, Schadt String Competition, Philadelphia Guitar Competition, Texas International Guitar Competition, Indiana International Guitar Competition, Pearl and Julius Rising Young Stars, Columbus State and Louisville Guitar Competitions.

Mr. Kaya appears as a soloist and international artist touring around the United States and Europe. As a concert soloist, he has collaborated with professional orchestras such as the Buffalo Philharmonic, Istanbul State Symphony, Hilton Head Symphony, Brevard Festival Orchestra, Lake Placid Sinfonietta, Bilkent Symphony etc.which he has gained his great artistic recognition internationally. He conducted many masterclasses in the music festivals and the Universities throughout the United States and Europe.

Mr. Kaya had presented the premieres of concertos by Roberto Sierra (Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra), Derwyn Holder (New Jersey Baroque Orchestra), Leonard Handler, and Suleyman Alnitemiz (Istanbul State Symphony). He recorded the works of Jorge Morel on his first album with NAXOS. His upcoming CD is going to be the works of Italian composer Carlo Domeniconi. As a performer Mr. Kaya works closely with our generation’s great composers including Lowell Liebermann, Jorge Morel, and Roberto Sierra, among many others.

Born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1991, Mr. Kaya began his interest in classical guitar at the age of six with his father, Dr. Mehmet Refik Kaya. Early main instructors included generation-influenced educators such as Yusuf Doğan Büyüköğüt, Raffi Arslanyan, Soner Egesel. When he was 19, Celil earned his Bachelor Degree of Music from the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University State Conservatory with the Highest Honor Degree in Istanbul, and was granted the “Excellence” Scholarship from the Turkish Educational Foundation. During his Bachelor’s degree he studied composition with the famous Turkish composer Mehmet Nemutlu.

Mr. Kaya expended his worldwide notice throughout the time he pursued his Master Degree of music in New York City at Mannes College The New School For Music. As a full-scholarship student, he has also received the Excellence in Performance Awards by the Mannes College the New School for Music. Mr. Kaya was proudly studied in the studio of Michael Newman (the disciple of Andrés Segovia, Oscar Ghiglia and Albert Valdes Blain) as well as private studies with Grammy awards-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin. During his master’s degree he studied composition, arrangement and transcription with renowned guitarist-composer Frederic Hand. Celil is currently receiving the Harrington fellowship –at the University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music as a candidate of Doctoral Degree of Musical Arts program and teaching assistant, in the studio of prestigious guitarist of out time – Adam Holzman.

Mr. Kaya performed in the most prestigious concert halls and the festivals around the United States including solo recital, concerto performances and master classes on the D’Addario Performance Series at Carnegie Hall, The Frick Collection Museum in NYC Summer Artists series, New York Guitar Seminar Festival at Mannes College, Round Top Festival in Texas, Brevard Music Festival in South Carolina, Raritan River Music Festival, Nevada County Guitar Festival, also numerous Radio broadcast and concert performances throughout United States and Turkey.

Besides a concert soloist, Celil Refik Kaya is also known as an avid composer where his has more than 100 pieces including works for solo guitar, violin, piano, string trio, duets, sonatas etc. His chamber and instrumental works were performed throughout United States, Turkey, South Korea and Australia Sydney’s Opera House. He also enjoys playing chamber music, playing traditional Turkish music and training martial arts during his spare time.

Egemen Kesikli

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Turkish composer and performer Egemen Kesikli strives to promote diversity in contemporary music, and his composition catalogue varies from large-orchestral pieces and concertos to alternative chamber works featuring traditional Turkish instruments and unconventional ensemble formations. Egemen’s music has been heard at festivals and venues across North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia, and has been featured on NPR and PBS, as well as on various public radios in Turkey and Austria. He received honors and recognition from ASCAP, Beethoven Club, and Minnesota Music Educators Association, among others.

Egemen has received his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the University of Colorado Boulder, Master’s from the University of Texas at Austin, and Bachelor’s from St. Olaf College. He currently holds the position of Instructor of Music Theory at Colorado State University and Lecturer of Composition at the University of Colorado Boulder. When he is not composing, performing, or teaching, Egemen enjoys cooking, improvising on his oud that was made by his beloved father, and watching cat videos with his partner.

John Lee Bonner

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John Lee Bonner is pursuing a Master of Music Performance in Choral Conducting degree where he is studying with Dr. Sean Pullen at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Music (voice) with a minor emphasis in Music Composition from Eastern New Mexico University.  He has performed throughout New Mexico, Texas, New York, and Washington, D.C..  John has performed Brahms’ Requiem with the Santa Fe Symphony and Symphony Chorus, Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  In addition, John has performed in choirs in Oklahoma City at the American Choral Director’s Association National Convention and in New York at Carnegie Hall.  John has played tuba with the  Eastern New Mexico University Symphonic Band and piano with the Eastern New Mexico University Jazz Combo.

As a conductor and educator, John Lee Bonner has worked with many ensembles.  He has worked with the West Texas A&M University Collegiate Choir, Eastern New Mexico University Chamber Singers, the Eastern New Mexico University Singers, and was Musical Director and Conductor of the Clovis – Portales Community Orchestra for the 2011 – 2012 season.

He has traveled to several conventions and workshops throughout the United States including American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Education, New Mexico Music Educators Association, and Texas Music Educators Association conventions as well as the Soaring Leap Workshop with Eric Whitacre.  John is continuously expanding his education through reading, workshops, masterclasses, and more.

As a composer and arranger, John has had multiple pieces premiered and recorded by Eastern New Mexico University  students, as well as  award-winning soprano, Audra Methvin and composer and educator Dr. Mark DalPorto.

John has studied with Dr. Mark DalPorto, Dr. Jason Paulk, Dr. Sean Pullen, Mr. Dustin Seifert, and Dr. Jason Vest.  His musical inspiration comes from many sources, but include: Claudio Monteverdi, Benjamin Britten, and Eric Whitacre.

Organizations to which John Lee Bonner belongs include: Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, National Association for Music Education, American Choral Directors Association, and Texas Music Educators Association.

John lives in Canyon, Texas with his pug, Barton.

Franklin Piland (b. 1990) is a Native American musician. He earned his Masters in Music Composition with focus in wind band conducting from the University of Texas at Austin and his Bachelor of Music in Wind Performance with emphasis in music technology and music composition from Eastern New Mexico University. He currently serves as Chief of Staff with the Earth’s Call Foundation and the Orchestra Manager with The Earth Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Steven Mercurio.

As a composer and arranger Franklin has been fortunate to have his works premiered and recorded by a variety of musicians, from young bands to collegiate and professional ensembles, and has collaborated on his music with some of the world’s most lauded human-beings. Arrangements of Franklin’s are widely-requested and numerous, and range from solos to symphonies. His choral and band works have drawn attention from legendary composers of our time, Eric Whitacre, Donald Grantham, Mark Camphouse, and David Holsinger being some of the most prominent. His band work Somnia Mortem was named a finalist in the ATSSB Composition Competition and has been championed beautifully by David Holsinger since 2013. He has been commissioned numerous works (20 since 2011 and counting) for a wide variety of ensembles, most recently Rose Made Man, a One-Act Opera, Hymn for band, and four works for the Pakistani/American fusion group Sangat! (Moon of the 15th, Sangat, Morning, and Sun of the 10th) currently on tour across the world. Franklin’s most recent projects include: an exciting collaboration with the Native American jazz group The Delbert Anderson Trio, recently featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, arranging three tunes from their first album for rapper, jazz trio, and wind band and a commission for Lauren Cook for soprano, string quintet, and percussion inspired by Lakota Death Rites.

As a lifelong educator and advocate of music education, Franklin has served as Director of Bands and Orchestras at East Austin College Prep in Austin, TX (grades 6-12). He continues to teach private lessons for music theory, composition, tuba, trombone, and euphonium. In 2016 he was Guest Lecturer and Composer in Residence at the National Academy of Performing Arts in Karachi, Pakistan. He is sought after by both high school and collegiate ensembles alike in preparation of his music or for clinics and masterclasses, and always looks forward to collaborating with new musicians in the pursuit of educational, artistic, and humanitarian excellence. Mr. Piland believes teaching music is a community-based collaborative endeavor that encourages all members – teachers, parents, and students alike – to work together for the collective benefit of the ensemble in an effort to build something greater than the individual. This is at the forefront of all his teachings and is the motivator of his adamant belief in lifelong learning.

As a passionate conductor, he seizes any opportunity to collaborate with groups of all varieties. He has worked regularly with the Eastern New Mexico University Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band and the Muleshoe High School Band. He has also been graced with guest appearances with the University of Texas Symphonic Band and Wind Symphony. He has frequently conducted chamber ensembles for official recording sessions at the University of Texas at Austin. Recently Franklin held directorship positions with The Lonestar Brass Orchestra and the East Austin College Prep Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, String Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra, and Symphony Orchestra.

As a performer he has played as the principal tubist for the Eastern New Mexico University Wind Symphony from 2008 to 2013; performed in a variety of wind ensembles in New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Ireland, and Pakistan; in addition to a number of solo and chamber recitals. In 2009 Franklin established The Greyhound Brass, an autonomous student-run brass quintet based in the Eastern New Mexico/West Texas area devoted to performing quality brass chamber music for the surrounding schools and communities. He has performed regularly with the University of Texas Middle Eastern Ensemble, the University of Texas Hispanic/Caribbean Ensemble, and the Cedar Park Winds. In March of 2019 Franklin performed with the Pakistani/American fusion group Sangat! at SXSW in Austin, Texas. He continues to perform with Sangat! touring internationally, as well as the Lubbock Concert Band and the Westwinds Brass Band.

As a professional audio and video recording engineer and producer, Franklin has had the immense fortune to work with and for some of the greatest musicians, organizations, and projects of this age. He has recorded such groups and soloists as the Miró Quartet, the University of Texas Wind Ensemble, Spinal Tap, the Cordova Quartet, Anton Nel, Hear No Evil, Time for Three, and the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra. Recording projects under his direction have been numerous and include the Austin Chamber Music Festival’s 2015 season, University Interscholastic League (UIL) concert and jazz festivals, and private sessions for up-and-coming composers and artists in the field. Recently he had the pleasure of collaborating on the official recording sessions for Donald Grantham’s War Prayer, Charles Hoag’s Concerto Marais de Cygnes, Andrew Boss’ Telestai, and the UT Wind Ensemble’s live performance of John Mackey’s Wine Dark Sea and the world premiere of Steven Bryant’s Concerto for Trombone featuring Joe Alessi. Franklin worked as an Audio/Video Recording Engineer with the University of Texas at Austin Recording Studio for four and a half years.

Franklin has had the great honor of membership in the National Band Association and Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Fraternity for College Bandsmen, which he served as Chapter President for numerous years in both. Franklin is also an active member of the International Tuba and Euphonium Association (ITEA), the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

Despite all of his numerous obligations and responsibilities, Franklin is a lover of tennis, painting, and Batman (though oddly enough he has yet to paint Batman playing tennis). Franklin currently resides in Lubbock, Texas with his husband Alex.