Boğaziçi University’s Music Club Inspires Choirs Throughout Turkey

Founded in 1973 to perform choir music, the Boğaziçi University Music Club (BÜMK) continues this tradition with three different choirs.BÜMK also organizes Choirfest, one of the important choir festivals in Turkey. Reaching more and more music lovers every year through the classes and other activities it organizes for students, theBÜMK Choirs hold concerts at the end of term every year.

 We spoke to Club President Mehmet Barış Kumkumoğlu and Jazz Choir Director Ayşegül Kuntman about the three different BÜMK choirs—Classical, Jazz, and Rock—that have been performing since 1994.

BÜMK’s Classical Choir performs classical and soft modern pieces; the Jazz Choir performs choral jazz standards, and the Rock Choir performs rock and pop numbers; all choirs sing “a capella”: without instrumental accompaniment.

“We Train Choristers for Turkey”

Barış Kumkumoğlu had this to say about the choir auditions held at the beginning of each year:“You need not have sung before or been part of a choir to make the choir.Many of our choristers had no such previous experience.The important things are to be able to distinguish between sounds, harmonize, use your voice correctly, and have a sense of rhythm.”Ayşegül Kuntman, who holds auditions for the Jazz Choir adds, “The choir environment really helps many choristers to further their skills; many of our friends who came here with no experience have really come far and made a name for themselves today.”

Barış Kumkumoğlu said that choirs are seen by people in this field as playing a pioneering role and explained the position choirs held in the overall context of choir music:“The BÜMK Choirs are an inspiration to many choirs across the country.There are numerous choir directors who set up a choir at their schools or independently after observing our structure and how we work.Choirs formed by our graduates, and many other choirs we provide practice space and technical support to, continue to make choir music.Our choristers sometimes continue to perform on a professional basis.As a club, we are in fact training choristers for Turkey.” 

BÜMK Wins Silver Diploma at the World Choir Games

Backed by the European Choral Association, and a participant of the first youth choir festival in Turkey—ChoirFest—the Boğaziçi University Music Club has garnered great public support at the street concerts organized to bring choir music to the people during the festival attended by numerous national and international choirs.

The Boğaziçi University Jazz Choir was the only choir from Turkey to take part in the World Choir Games held at Latvia, Riga, from 9-19 July, 2014, and was awarded two silver diplomas in the Modern and Jazz categories.Ayşegül Kuntman talked about the achievement and the festival process:“We heard about a year before the competition that we had been accepted and worked a whole year, excited and enthusiastic about taking part in the Games.We became ready to compete during the camps we organized prior to the competition.Taking part in this activity not only made us very happy but pushed us to improve.We met very important choristers, and heard very important choirs perform live.”

In addition to the “BÜMK Tour” held annually during the spring break, the BÜMK Classical Choir has performed in Ankara, Bursa, and many venues across Istanbul in recent years, and attended festivals in Italy, Germany, and Spain, while the Jazz Choir took part in festivals in Germany.Kumkumoğlu says that attending festivals overseas brings great gains, and adds that they learn a lot during these festivals while also embracing a mission to spread choir music even more.