Young musician tipped for the top

VIDEO He's been playing since he was six and today he's tipped for the top. Pianist Erdem Misirlioglu is in the BBC's Young Musician of the Year competition - but he just laughs at the suggestion he is a musical prodigy.

HE'S been playing since he was six and today he's tipped for the top. Pianist Erdem Misirlioglu is in the BBC's Young Musician of the Year competition - but he just laughs at the suggestion he is a musical prodigy. JAMES MARSTON talks to the Ipswich teenager about his passion and plans.

ERDEM makes no secret of his ambition.

He said: “I'd like to be a solo performer, a concert pianist.”

And he's good. Already an accomplished performer the Northgate High School student is hoping to head to music college after his A-levels.

The 18-year-old said: “At the moment I'm preparing for a concert in Woodbridge on Sunday . I'm doing a solo recital and there will be also be a violinist, Jeanine Thorpe. It's a charity concert and it's useful to me to get experience performing.”

Erdem, of Fletcher's Lane, Kesgrave, describes himself as a classical pianist.

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He said: “I play music from a range of composers. The earliest I play is Bach and I play modern compositions. It's a broad spectrum of different types of music. I really like Beethoven and anything Russian like Rachmaninov or Prokofiev. Romantic music from the late 19th century is my favourite genre.”

Now waiting to hear if he has got through to the semi finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year, Erdem began playing when he was 6.

He said: “It started as something to do. I started on the Keyboard and then moved on to the piano when I was nine. I had a teacher here in Ipswich called Jean Towers, she got me up to my grade 8 when I was about 12.

“I always really enjoyed it but I never thought I'd be a musician at the beginning.”

It was in his early teens that the piano became more important to Erdem.

He said: “When I was about 14 or 15 I thought to myself I really like this and I'd like to do it as a job. There's nothing else I want to do now.”

Driven, ambitious and prepared to put the work in needed to succeed, Erdem is quite at home sitting at his piano. He said: “The piano has fascinated people for hundreds of years. I can't put my finger on why the piano attracts me. It involves emotion and expression and it's addictive to be able to make beautiful sounds. I like being able to hear the composer's voice through the music.”

Practicing at least two hours a day and sometimes up to five or six hours, Erdem is currently studying for his a-levels as well.

He added: “I am waiting to hear if I have got through to the next round of the BBC Young Musician of the Year. I'm expecting a letter any day. There's five rounds and I'm in the final 20 at the moment.”

It might sound exciting but for Erdem the competition isn't high on his list of priorities.

He said: “It has launched a few careers but it is a competition and I think competitions go against the spirit of music. It's very subjective but I suppose I would like to see how I compare to some other people.”

Erdem doesn't consider himself to be a prodigy.

He added: “I think it's stupid to say that really. It doesn't matter so much what you are like when you are a child it matters what happens when you get older and what you turn into. I was busy having a childhood when I was young. And however good you are you've got to put the work in.”

Performing regularly is now part of Erdem's life.

He said: “I think there's a real art to performing. It's about how you handle yourself. Sometimes when a performer walks on stage you know you are going to enjoy his performance before he has begun. I like to show off a bit as well I suppose. I like the idea of people enjoying listening to what I do.”

Thought focused on his future piano playing is only one part of Erdem's life.

He said: “I was out with friends last night and got in at about 3am so I'm a bit tired today. I like playing poker, sports and going to the gym. Piano is not my whole life.”

Do you play the piano? Have you seen Erdem play? What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to

Erdem puts his hands into hot water before playing, to warm them up.