A Young Turkish Prodigy studying
at Julliard is called:
"School of Musical Genius"
Arzu Kaya URANLI
Kara Miyase Unal is only fourteen years old yet her experience in music
goes far beyond her fourteen years, in fact, she has been playing the
violin since she was the age of 2 and a half...
spent three summers studying at the Indiana University of Music String
Academy in Bloomington, Indiana. The past three summers were spent at
Greenwood Music Camp in Massachusetts studying chamber and orchestral
age of five, Kara was a soloist with the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Symphony
Orchestra for their tiny tot performances.
1994, Kara was a performer on Ankara, Turkey State Radio and Turkish
National TV. Again, in 1995 through 1997 Kara was featured on the Ankara
State Radio children's program.
the age of 10, her solo debut was with the Bilkent Sinfonia, a professional
orchestra comprised of musicians from different countries, in Ankara,
Turkey, under baton of Peter Marchbank. She performed the Concerto in
g minorNo.1 Opus12 by Antonio Vivaldi.
July 1997, Kara was a featured performer at the opening ceremony of
the Performing Arts Center for Youth in Izmir, Turkey. As a result of
this performance, she was on various national TV programs and newspapers.
Miss Unal was featured in the 6 August 1997 edition of the Turkish magazine
December 1997, Kara had the honor of playing for the Turkish Consulate
general and the Turkish delegation to the United Nations in New York
Unal performed a recital in July 1998 in Bursa, Turkey. At that time,
conductor Hikmet Simsek was in the audience and invited her to perform
four days later with the Bursa Symphony Orchestra at their final concert
of the 1998 season. Kara performed the first movement of the Concerto#3
in G major by W. A. Mozart. This program was filmed and broadcast nationwide
by Turkish station TRT 1.
most recent performances have been in New York City at Colombia University in a program celebrating the 75th
anniversary of the Turkish Republic and recital in Paul Hall at The
Juilliard School of Music.
Kara is a brilliant student in the Pre-College division of the Julliard
School of Music in New York City. Some of the most famous graduates
of Julliard are violinists Yirsak Periman, Issac Stern and Nigel Kennedy
well know pianists are the siblings Guther & Suher Pekinel.
My fist question to Kara's parents was "How they recognized her
talent at such a young age?"
Her mother Donalee Unal answered, " When Kara was a baby, I read
her Suziki's biography, who was a Japanese composer. She was impressed
by his thesis. With her recomendation I read the book, too. In that
book, Suziki states that every child can play an instrument by listening
in the same way that they learn how to speak."
Donalee liked the idea and when Kara was 2 and a half they bought her
a tiny violin and she started practicing.
I couldn't keep myself from asking them "Is it difficult to be
a parent of an artist?"
That became the reason for her father, Cardiologist Dr. Abdurrahman
Unal to become more involved in his daughter's talent. He stated that
Kara has been taking private violin lessons for 3-4 hours every day
since she was 2 and a half years old. She attends public school and
has lots of homework, of course. As parents we try to keep her environment
quite and neat. Being talented is not enough for being successful, she
must practice all the time. She must be organized and disciplined. As
a matter of fact, Kara knows her responsibilities, she has the discipline
and enthusiasm and realizes that success doesn't come easily and is
willing to work for it. As parents we believe in her and support her."
I turned to Donalee and asked, "Do you believe that Kara will be
a successful talent someday? why did you want her to play the violin?"
Donalee answered so frankly, "I think that it is important for
children to be exposed to music, the arts must be part of their education
in order to appreciate the arts and to be a better audience member,
you must be exposed. This exposure is very important in order to follow
your child's interests and to give them support and encouragement. You
do it as a labor of love, as a parent."
All of a sudden I wondered "What would Kara want to accomplish
by the age of twenty?"
Kara replied, "I want to be a world renowned violinist and model."
Although she is only thirteen years old, she is a very good violinist.
I don't see any obstacles that she cannot face and she will be a world
famous violinist by the age of twenty. She also has every opportunity
to become a beautiful model which was evident in her photo shoot in
the February/March 1999 issue of Girl's Life magazine.
Kara continued by saying that with dedication and confidence she too
can claim what the world famous violinists prior to her have, Yitzak
Periman represented the Jewish community, Yo Yo Ma reminds everyone
of China, and Kara Unal, I want to represent Turkey all over the world,
too. There are no but's, or's or if's about that."
While I was listening to Kara, I was truly amazed by her. I realized
that her teacher Shirley Givens joined us, too. She has been teaching
Kara for three years. I asked her "What are you most impressed
She said, "Kara is a very talented young lady, and of course Julliard
attracks the very best talent. What impresses me most about Kara is
her absolute dedication to what she is doing and her absolute enthusiasm.
She is very devoted and dedicated. It's wonderful to teach her because
she has a very definite idea of what she really wants to do and she
is very imaginative and expressive. It's really exciting to teach her
because she is very enthusiastic. She is not doing it because someone
makes her do it. She is doing it because she wants to do it. It makes
me very excited to teach such a talent like her. She is a wonderful
When I heard that, I was kind of anxious, what if she would be disappointed
in the future? And I asked, "How bright is Kara's future?"
"One can never predict what will happen to a talented person. The
world is changing so fast. They have to be extremely well prepared.
They have to be the very best of what they do. Competition is great.
If you are at the top of what you do, there are many opportunities.
Kara makes improvements every single week and I believe she'll have
many opportunities." said Ms. Givens.
Dr. Unal added, "In Julliard, students are supported by their ethical
background, and we want the Turkish Community to support her as an artist.
It would be wonderful for her if she could be given more opportunities
to perform. As a talented and enthusiastic artist, Kara does what she
has to do. However, the Turkish Community would be more active for her
and she'd be so happy to serve the community in this way.
We ended our conversation to remember Cahit Unyaylar, who is a very
well known Turkish classical musician, who performed with Kara when
she was on a television program in Turkey. Cahit Unyaylar's wish for
Kara was to "let God bless Kara and all talents like her."
When I was getting ready to leave, Kara whispered to me, "I love
Turkey so much, " and smiled.
"Turkey loves you too, and we are proud of you, " I replied.