Before my concerts in Istanbul with Akbank Chamber Orchestra I was given the rare opportunity to play in the breathtakingly magnificent Hagia Sophia.
Consecrated in 537, this architectural masterpiece was the most distinguished church of Christianity for almost a thousand years. In 1453 it was converted to be the Great Mosque of Istanbul and served as the citys main site of Islamic worship until 1935 when it became a museum and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Seeing Christian and Islamic symbols side by side I find very beautiful and awesome. It highlights the possibility of peaceful coexistance between people of all faiths.
And the acoustics….!
The warmth of the magical acoustic of Hagia Sofia embracing my soprano saxophone triggers a spiritual feeling.
12 seconds of loving memories of what I just played comes back and rests magically suspended in space.
To top it off Maestro Cem Mansur and Concertmaster Hakan Sensoy and I were invited to ride the rickety elevator inside the renovation scaffolding to the very ceiling of the dome 55 meters above the floor to say our prayers.
Wondrous how music connects people and places from all over the world.
Passionate musicians, enthusiastic audiences, men showing feelings of brotherhood by walking arm-in-arm, excellent turkish food, fresh pomegranate juice, sunshine and warmth, the Topkapi Palace Harem and lots of cats made this a journey that touched my soul.