Turkish musician Sera Tokay, who has been living in France, has become the first Turkish female orchestra conductor to give a concert at New York’s famous Carnegie Hall. In 2011, Tokay formed a chamber orchestra named Lutece Philharmonia in Paris and this year gave a concert in Carnegie Hall on Jan. 30.
The concert, which featured the orchestra made up of young musicians who graduated from a Paris conservatory, the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris, was supported by the Washington-based Turkish Cultural Foundation and the New York-based America Turkish Women’s Union.
Speaking after the concert, Tokay said, “I tried to be calm for the orchestra music to be
heard louder. If a musician is not calm, s/he can’t convey anything to listeners.”
As a Turkish female orchestra conductor who performed a concert at Carnegie Hall, Tokay said that it was her first concert in the U.S. but they had previously performed in Switzerland for
tours, and that they were invited by the grandchild of Stravinsky to play there.
“We have been to London and now we want to go to India, Afghanistan and the Vatican. My orchestra wants to go to Istanbul most of all. They ask me every day about it. ‘Why didn’t we go to Istanbul before New York’ they say,” she said.
Tokay said that she wanted to form a French-Turkish-American orchestra. When asked if she brought Turkish musicians to New York, she said, “No. States should have agreed on it, it is not happening at once.”
The fact that the number of female orchestra conductors is too low in the world is being discussed by music authorities in recent years. In 2013, among the leading 22 orchestras in the U.S., there was only one female conductor.