Meet Arif Mardin Fellowship’s First Virtual Awardee: Zeynep Lal Kara

The American Turkish Society’s first virtual scholarship finds its recipient

This year, the Arif Mardin Fellowship has been awarded to Zeynep Lal Kara who will attend Berklee’s Aspire: Five-Week Music Performance Intensive this summer. The program is the world’s most comprehensive music performance program that is conducted now, virtually due to COVID-19. From one-on-one instruction with Berklee’s renowned faculty to a rigorous curriculum, this immersive online summer program will enhance Zeynep’s instrumental performance mastery.

Meet Arif Mardin Fellowship’s first virtual awardee: Zeynep Lal Kara

Zeynep Lal Kara
Zeynep Lal Kara

Zeynep was born in Antalya, Turkey, and started playing piano when she was 4 years old. At the age of 7, she passed the exams of the Mediterranean University State Conservatory Piano Department and became a student of Gokce Goktepe. She performed at many of Goktepe’s concerts performed by her students and other events organized by Akdeniz University, the Baha Suralsan Conservatory Piano Festivals and the Adana Cukurova University State Conservatory. She gave solo recitals and performed at the “Touch of Hope for Music” Piano Concert which was held for the benefit of the Child Oncology Service of Izmir Tepecik Training and Research Hospital in March 2018.

She was honorably mentioned at the 9th Pera International Piano Competition held in Istanbul in 2014 and at the International Mozart Competition held in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2016. In June, 2016, she won first place at the 2nd Mozart Academy International Piano Competition and 2nd place at the International Edelweiss Piano Competition held in Vienna, Austria in December 2017. In September 2018, She won 2nd place at the International Antalya Piano Competition.

In February 2019, she received the Honorable Mention Award at the Adana Rhapsody International Piano Competition. She attended masterclasses and workshops of Freddy Kempf, Huseyin Sermet, Lara Melda, Baris Buyukyildirim, and Werner Bartsch. In November 2019, she participated in the Massachusetts Music Educators Association West District Auditions which gave her the opportunity to perform at the MMEA Choir Concert and attend the MMEA All-State auditions.

After attending Bilfen School in Turkey, she is now studying at Berkshire School in Sheffield/ Massachusetts as a freshman. She is in the school chorus, and takes part in community service projects.  In addition to her musical talents, she is an active MUN (Model United Nations) member and attended the KOC University JMUN Conference in March 2018, and the Princeton University MUN Conference in November 2019. The committees in which she participated were the Economical and Social Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe/ OSCE.

Click here to view Zeynep’s interview

Check out Zeynep’s work