Classical arrangements of Coldplay and a composition for Syrian children will open music festival

Canan Maxton, founder of Talent Unlimited, says the Music Futures Festival, which takes place at Asia House in September, will be a wonderful way to escape the "chaos of London." The Festival showcases rising musical stars from Asia and Europe.

Canan Maxton, founder of Talent Unlimited, says the Music Futures Festival, which takes place at Asia House from 26 to 29 September to showcase emerging Asian talent, will be a wonderful way to escape the "chaos of London."

Classical arrangements of Coldplay and a composition for Syrian children will open music festival

12 September 2016

By Naomi Canton

Classical piano covers of Coldplay songs and a unique composition dedicated to the children of Syria are set to receive their world premiere at the Music Futures Festival being held at Asia House in September.

The four-day festival returns to Asia House for the second year running and will take place from Monday, 26 to Thursday, 29 September 2016.

This year’s extravaganza will feature music by the world’s most famous composers including Handel, Stravinsky, Schumann, Rachmaninov, Liszt, Haydn, Strauss, Quilter, Tchaikovsky and Puccini, as well as more rarely heard pieces by the likes of Chinese composer Chen Yi and Turkish composer Ahmed Adnan Saygun.

The musical event has been co-organised by Talent Unlimited, a London-based charity that provides financial support and exposure to music students of any nationality (including British) studying in the UK who are of exceptional talent and short of funds.

The aim of the Music Futures Festival is to promote emerging musicians from Asia, Russia and Europe that have in some way been supported by the charity.

Turkish classical composer-pianist AyşeDeniz Gökçin, a graduate from the Royal Academy of Music, will open the Festival on 26 September with her world premiere of Piano Story, which she has dedicated to the children in Syria.

“There is no charity involved or fundraising yet. It is a personal project I dedicate to them as I share their suffering,” she told Asia House.

Classical arrangements of Coldplay

In a unique twist Gökçin will also merge British rock with classical music as she performs her unique classical piano covers of Coldplay’s Clocks, Don’t Panic and Adventure of a Lifetime.

Gökçin shot to fame after she arranged three Pink Floyd songs and wrote them in the form of a fantasia, titled Pink Floyd ‘Lisztified’: Fantasia Quasi Sonata, to celebrate Hungarian composer Franz Liszt’s 200th anniversary. These piano arrangements in the style of the 19th century composer went viral and she was featured on Pink Floyd’s official Facebook and Twitter pages. In November 2013 she released an album Pink Floyd Classical Concert.

“AyşeDeniz Gökçin is not only a Talented Unlimited rising star but a risen star. She is definitely a most remarkable young woman that has emerged. She was a student of Christopher Elton, Professor Emeritus of the Royal Academy of Music, formerly head of Keyboard at the Academy,” the founder of Talent Unlimited Canan Maxton said.

AyşeDeniz Gökçin, a Turkish classical pianist, will perform classical piano covers of Coldplay and a piece dedicated to the children of Syria to open the Music Futures Festival at Asia House on 26 September

AyşeDeniz Gökçin, a Turkish classical pianist, will perform classical piano covers of Coldplay and a piece dedicated to the children of Syria to open the Music Futures Festival at Asia House on 26 September

This year’s Festival will feature lunchtime recitals, evening concerts and an Induction Day for music graduates and undergraduates to help them with their professional development.

“Last year we had three concerts per day,” Maxton explained, sitting in the sunny patio of her central London home.

“This year we are no longer having the morning concerts, but the number of musicians has increased,” she said.

“Each concert has three separate showcase recitals, therefore three musicians. We grouped them under a specific theme to create unity amongst the three individual showcase recitals in each concert. For example, the lunchtime concert on 28 September which features British-Franco-Chinese violinist Laure Chan, Mongolian pianist Mandakhtuya Dorj and Turkish pianist Tolga Atalay Ün, features western classical music with influences of traditional music from the countries the musicians come from,” she said.

The evening concert on 28 September features music from the Romantic era with composers of the period including Rachmaninov, Chopin and Schumann,” Maxton said. “Bo Lyu, Samson Tsoy and Luka Okros, who will perform in this concert, are outstanding world-class pianists with many awards to their names,” she added.

Meanwhile the concert in the evening of 27 September will feature some of “the most salient works of western classical repertoire,” Maxton said, such as Schumann’s Sonata no:3  Op 14. “In addition to Amrian Zenaishvili and Salih Can Gevrek who are fantastic pianists, we also have violinist Yume Fujise, one of the rising stars of the Royal College of Music,” she said, cutting a slice of home-made cake.

The 27 September lunchtime concert features a gamut of traditional western classical music by two award-winning pianists, Ke Ma and Gerard Aimontche, and the wonderfully lyrical clarinettist Őzlem Çelik, whilst the 29 September lunchtime concert features three singers singing everything from Handel to German Lieder to Strauss and Quilter.

“Our two sopranos at that are Waimay Yau and Oksana Sliubyk and our counter tenor is Cenk Karaferya. They are all most accomplished singers,” she said.

The Festival closes on 29 September with a concert with three outstanding singers: Irina Loskova, Russian soprano, Jacob Bettinelli, baritone from Hong Kong and UK-born soprano Nazan Fikret, of Turkish and Irish descent, who has just won a grant from the International Opera Awards.

“You will hear some remarkable singing from all three performers, all rising stars, making this concert most memorable. Nazan Fikret’s performance of The Girl in 14G is the best rendition of the song I have ever heard,” she continued.

“Girl in 14G is such a difficult piece to sing because it jumps from musical theatre sounds to opera back and forth almost in mid-sentence. Most of the time operatic singers do not do justice to musical theatre. Nazan Fikret sings both extremely well and with no apparent effort,” Maxton said.

Charity to help musicians

The aim of Talent Unlimited to enable emerging musical stars aged 18 and above to continue their studies, be they undergraduate or postgraduate, at renowned colleges in the UK, which tend to have very high fees.

Talent Unlimited also helps them gain exposure and the charity introduces them to music professionals and offers them mentoring and general guidance.

All the musicians performing have been supported in some way by Talent Unlimited which supports approximately 130 musicians. This may have been financial, through exposure, or via professional development.

Maxton started the London-based registered charity in 2010 because of her deep love of western classical music. Her parents were amateur singers and she played the piano when she was a child.

‘Music is a most potent language’

Pouring out a cup of filter coffee, Maxton explained: “Music affects me more than any other art form. The first couple of notes of any piece can change my mood and that of anyone else. Music is a most potent language. “

Raised in Istanbul, she helped to set up the Classical Music Club at Bosphorus University. Having worked with various UK charities to raise funds through concerts, she decided to set up her own one to have control over how the funds were used – in her case she chose to help talented musicians.

So how did she select who would perform at the Music Futures Festival this year?

“It has not been an easy process because our musicians are so gifted and accomplished, so it has been difficult to choose. I concentrated on the Asian musicians who did not perform at the Music Futures Festival at Asia House last year. Some were not available but those who wanted to take part were given a space and that is how we ended up with seven concerts over four days feauturing 29 musicians.

“They have all won awards. I can’t keep up with the awards they keep winning. These are all amongst our very best musicians with tremendous potential in the future. You will see me proved right,” she said.

“The main difference with this year’s festival is the Induction Day on 26 September at Asia House,” Maxton continued.

“Musicians find it very difficult to survive in a world where there are so many musicians and nowadays so much is needed to succeed and that is why we do the Induction Day. We want to help and mentor them as much as we can,” she said.

“The aim is to bridge the gap between what the music colleges teach and what music professionals need to know to be successful. There is an awful lot they don’t know when they graduate  – be that about social media, setting up a website, networking, finding an agent , how to avoid injury, how to perform with an injury, how to fundraise and so on,” she said.

Speakers at the Induction Day include, among others, Howard Blake, composer of The Snowman, Yekaterina Lebedeva, a teacher at the Royal College of Music in London, concert organisers Lisa Peacock and Heather Turnham and pianists Julian Jacobson and Sam Haywood.

“We put on about 20 concerts a year, of which four are big fundraisers. Some are free lunchtime concerts. The Music Futures Festival is the biggest event we are putting on this year,” Maxton said.

The concerts take place at prestigious venues around London such as St James’s Church, Piccadilly; Leighton House Museum in Holland Park; Steinway Hall in Marylebone; the Carlton Club; Saint Mary Magdalene Munster Square, 1901 Arts Club and Kings Place.

Some concerts even take place in Maxton’s living room, where she has a Steinway Model D piano. That was where she first met Asia House’s Head of Arts and Learning Pamela Kember and the idea to organise the Festival at Asia House first came about.

Founder of Talent Unlimited Canan Maxton often hosts concerts in her London living room where she has a Steinway Model D piano

Founder of Talent Unlimited Canan Maxton often hosts concerts in her London living room where she has a Steinway Model D piano

“Some of our musicians have become famous and many have their own CDs. I look upon Talent Unlimited as a music garden in which our musicians feel a breath of fresh air knowing full well that if we have the means we will help them in every way possible,” she said.

Maxton said she gets great satisfaction from helping the musicians fulfil their dreams and many of them stay with her from time to time. “Sometimes they cook for me and I get to try all sorts of different cuisines. I view Talent Unlimited very much as a family.”

So why  should people snap up tickets to the Music Futures Festival?

‘Classical music is not just for the rich’

“Not only will people enjoy wonderful music but they will get to see rising stars and will also know that whatever they spend will go towards these musicians to help them. Classical music should not be seen as elitist or something that is suitable just for the children of the rich. We have musicians that used to survive on one hamburger per day. They don’t necessarily all come from well-heeled backgrounds,” she said.

“The Music Futures Festival will not only offer beautiful renditions of compositions, but also showcase how young people are transforming classical music, an ever-evolving art form. AyşeDeniz Gökçin exemplifies how cool and inspiring compositions can be. This Festival will be a wonderful way of escaping the chaos of London and immersing yourself in relaxing music,” she concluded.

To register for the Induction Day on Monday 26 September email  There are 60 places. It is open to all musical students studying at UK colleges and universities –  be they on an undergraduate or postgraduate course.

To find out more about the Music Futures Festival taking place this year click here.

To book tickets for the Music Futures Festival 2016 click here.