Meet Rasih Öztürk: This Year’s Recipient of the Arif Mardin Fellowship!

Rasih Öztürk is a composer, guitarist, arranger, producer, conductor and educator from Izmir, Turkey. He was first introduced to music by learning how to play the keyboard, a gift from his father for his eleventh birthday and the guitar his mother gave him later that year. While in high school, he met his music teacher Mustafa Kamçıcı, who became a life-long mentor to him, and Anıl Altınsoy, a composition and conducting faculty at Dokuz Eylül University State Conservatory. 

After graduating high school, Öztürk was accepted to several prestigious music schools in the U.S., including Berklee in Boston, MA, the Collective School of Music in New York City, and the McNally Smith College of Music in Saint Paul, MI. In 2016, he decided to study at McNally Smith where he helped form the jazz band “Jazz International”. After moving back to Turkey, he continued to study advanced composition with Anıl Altınsoy and currently teaches music, writes books about music education and plays live music with the Rasih Öztürk Quartet, singer/songwriter Nisa Benna, and rock band Kaygı. 


“Surviving as a young and aspiring artist in today’s world is especially difficult financially. It’s even harder if you are also in love with the academic, teaching side of music, like me. To be able to teach music around the world, I need a good education and the proof of this education from a successful institution. When it comes to good education at a great school such as Berklee, it is almost financially impossible to afford it, if you don’t have precious people who generously support you. Also, other than Berklee being a well- known, successful institution, going to Berklee has always been a childhood dream and this opportunity that you have given me as an Arif Mardin fellow is a turning point in my life. Being awarded the Arif Mardin 5-Week Music Fellowship under the name of one of my greatest role models, Arif Mardin, is indescribable. I can’t even tell my happiness, excitement and other beautiful feelings with words but I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this possible.” – Rasih Ozturk