Turkey’s first harp producer and harp artist, Zeynep Öykü, who attracts attention both in Turkey and in international art circles with the harps she produces and the harp concerts she gives, answered our questions in our special interview.
Briefly, who is Zeynep Öykü?
When you mention that you are a harp artist, what kind of reactions do you get? Is the harp recognized in society?
What would you like to say about harp types, and are there differences between the harp instruments of the period and modern harps? What are the reasons for deciding to become a harp artist while being interested in metal music?
You and your husband, Ali Öztürk, produce harps together. Do you produce other instruments besides harps?
How does harp production take place according to demand?
What materials are used in the produced harps, and do you source all these materials from Turkey?
Do you receive orders from other countries in your harp production, or do you focus only on the Turkish market?
What are the challenges of playing the harp? Can anyone learn it? Is there a need for prior music experience? And what is the demand for learning the harp in Turkey?
What kind of program do you implement in music education? Is it possible to learn the harp without receiving training from a teacher?
You had your first concert with a broken harp. How did this happen?
Your planned concert on February 14, 2023, was canceled due to the earthquake on February 6. Can you tell us about the process that followed?
It is noteworthy that you wear costumes closest to the truth of the era in your concerts. Do you sew these costumes yourself, or do you order them specifically?
You have previously criticized costumes used in period films. Besides costumes, do you encounter film music that does not reflect the music of the era?
With your knowledge of the history of Medieval and Baroque period music, what differences would you like to point out between the music of that time and the current music understanding?
Are there Baroque artists who have influenced you? What are the differences between these artists and others?
You have given many concerts in Turkey. Do you receive concert offers from other countries?
About Zeynep Öykü:
Zeynep Öykü did not start her harp journey through traditional means but traveled the world in pursuit of her passion for the harp, blending different harp techniques from around the world. The harp, which she fell in love with after watching the 1975 film “The Little Mermaid” in her childhood, was initially just a distant dream for her. This changed when she saw a harp up close for the first time in a shop window in Cambridge.
Her journey, starting with the first harp she saw there, first took her to Ireland, where she encountered the Celtic harp tradition passed down from ear to ear. Later, in California, she began looking at the harp from a different perspective, working on improvisational music with harpist Susan Allen. In the classical harp world, she worked with some of the biggest names in the genre, including Isabelle Perrin, Marie Pierre Langlamet, Sylvain Blassel in France, Erika Waardenburg, Ernestine Stoop, and Saskia Kingma in the Netherlands, and jazz harpist Rosetty de Ruiter. Not satisfied with her studio experiences, she also received education in Music Production in the UK, and she also works as a sound engineer in her own projects.
With a desire to push the boundaries of what can be done with the harp, she participated in very different projects, including albums of local and foreign metal groups like Wolves in The Throne Room and Imperia, as well as the Ottoman court music and dances project called “Taksim Taksim.” Another first for her was introducing the history and traditions of the harp to Turkey through her program called “47tel2el” on Açık Radyo.
Zeynep Öykü, who wants as many different people as possible to experience the magical sound of the harp between her fingers, provides harp education to students of all ages and levels in her studio in Istanbul.
Having a great interest in Baroque music, Zeynep Öykü performs concerts throughout our country and abroad with her project called “Barok Arpı” (Baroque Harp), playing the harp of the Baroque period known as “Arpa Doppia,” which is played by only one person in our country.
Her first solo album, “1685,” featuring works by Bach, Handel, and Scarlatti, focuses on the music of the Baroque period and is quite different from other harp albums in terms of both production and recording technique. You can order this album through our website.