The violinist who was meant to play

Published August 22, 2014

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Müge Büyükçelen-Badel at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Her parents, brother and sister-in-law are in Victoria this week to watch her perform.
Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist

Article courtesy of the Times Colonist – Amy Smart

Müge Büyükçelen-Badel

A life in the arts seemed pre-ordained for Müge Büyükçelen-Badel. Her parents were architects, her grandfather was an opera singer and her aunt, cousins and their husbands all danced in the ballet.

“We sort of colour the arts spectrum,” she said. “I did ballet a little bit when I was a kid, but I chose to play the violin. I just loved it as an instrument and the sound and I guess I wasn’t too physical.”

Born in Istanbul, Büyükçelen-Badel has lived in Victoria since 2001. She is a member of the Victoria Symphony, the Emily Carr String Quartet, the Galiano Ensemble and the Aventa Ensemble. This week, she has a string of concerts scheduled with both the quartet and as a featured performer at Christ Church Cathedral.

After picking up the violin as a child, it wasn’t long before it became a vocation for Büyükçelen-Badel.

“I started it when I was nine and, from then on, it was professional,” she said.

She attributed it to the education system in Turkey in the 1980s. If you played an instrument at all, you tended to study it seriously. For Büyükçelen-Badel, that meant attending the conservatory, where music took a front seat ahead of all other studies, from middle school through university.

Despite having a strong path laid out for her from a young age, she said she never had any doubts about pursuing life as a musician.

But staying in Turkey was not in the cards for her, one reason for that being the political climate.

“The political situation in Turkey is kind of scary nowadays, especially for our job,” she said. “Cultural things are kind of in danger.”

It was also about opportunity. Büyükçelen-Badel moved to Toulouse, France, to work as a teaching assistant with the Toulouse National Conservatory and played as a member with the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra and the Toulouse Chamber Orchestra. When her teacher, Burkhard Godhoff, got a job as head of strings at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, she followed him. She planned to stay for a year.

“When this opportunity came up, he said, ‘I’m taking you with me to Canada.’ I didn’t even know where Victoria was, I had to look it up on a map,” she said.

“After I moved here I liked it a lot, so here I am.”

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