An Evening to Remember at the Turkish Embassy
By C. Naseer Ahmad
Washington, DC: “Friendly ties with Turkey” was the caption in the Sunday Style Section of the Washington Post April 14, 2013. “As Secretary of State John F. Kerry conducted business in Turkey this week, the Turkish Embassy hosted a piano concert, reception and dinner Tuesday in the District,” reported Rebecca D’Angelo. The skilled photographer’s demeanor made many friends in the large audience that gathered to hear Gulsin Onay – the leading Turkish concert pianist.
Nature played its part in providing one of the most beautiful days in the Nation’s capital. The sunset was almost perfect putting the Sheridan Circle in a beautiful glow. The famous Union General’s statue had a romantic tinge as the sun was setting westward towards Rock Creek Park. And, “Justice, Peace and Dignity” inscribed on the Orlando Letelier monument could be seen by the naked eye by the strollers nearby.
Inside the magnificent Turkish Ambassador’s residence the beautiful artist delivered an aura of peace, dignity while doing justice to the musical instrument with her nimble and gifted fingers. Each song was a treasure which absorbed the audience completely.
The stage had already been set by Deputy Chief of Mission T. Timur Soylemez who provided an interesting and short history of the mansion – in times past referred to as the “little White House”- built by a soda bottle cap magnate Edward Everett during 1910-14. He educated the audience about the unique role the Turkish Embassy played both in diplomacy as well as in music. Images of jazz being played in yesteryear in this ornate building flowed through the beautiful minds assembled on that pleasant Tuesday evening.
Rays of light from the P Street Bridge – across the balcony – seemed to want to join and listen to the sweet sounds of piano strokes of Gulsin Onay. These rays seemed to shine on the program’s notes provided by Dr Louis J. Reith and to have the desire to “unite humanity through musical diplomacy” – as the Embassy Series strives for.
Few places that evening would have seen the best of humanity. Images of the “Regional Cooperation for Development” – a multi-governmental program started by Turkey, Iran and Pakistan and supported by US – came alive as a friendly discussion went on between Emirhan Yorulmazlar, a fellow at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies, Iranian-born Dr Hassan Massali, founder of Action for Democracy & Human Rights in The Middle East, and a Pakistani-born writer. The audience included a former congressman, a retired rocket scientist and concert pianist, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission engineer, a senior associate at Center for Strategic and International Studies and renowned architects and scholars. Everyone enjoyed the sumptuous buffet spread out on a large dining room table with the works of arts of a very friendly Turkish chef who came by several times to ensure that there were ample Turkish delights on the guests’ plates.
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