Celil Refik Kaya


Despite his young age Celil Refik Kaya is a highly decorated international competition winner and recording artist. He has been called a “young genius of the guitar” by Jaime Zenamon (classical guitarist/composer) and his performances have been described as “spectacular, beautiful” and “a privilege” to behold by Sheila Abrahams (NJArtsMaven.com).

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1991, Mr. Kaya showed an almost immediate passion for music. At age six he began classical guitar studies with his father, Dr. Mehmet Refik Kaya, and gave his first concert at one of Turkey’s major performance venues, the Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall.

Kaya continued his studies with celebrated classical guitar masters Yusuf Doğan Büyüköğüt and Raffi Arslanyan, and began competing internationally. He was the top prizewinner at the Forum Gitarre Wien (2004), Istanbul Pera Guitar Festival and Competition (2008), Naxos 30th International Classical Guitar Competition (2008), Young Virtuosos International Competition in Sophia, Bulgaria (2009), Columbus State University Guitar Competition and Symposium (2011), University of Louisville Guitar Festival and Competition (2012), Queens Symphony Young Soloist Competition (2012), and the Pearl and Julius Young Rising Stars Music Competition (2012).

Additionally, Mr. Kaya was the 2012 JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition winner, a prizewinner at the 2012 GFA (Guitar Foundation of America) International Concert Artist Competition and a finalist for the 2012 Concert Artist Guild.

Filling the spaces in his busy competition schedule Mr. Kaya performs live on Turkish television and radio. He also attends master classes with lauded guitarists David Russell, Tilman Hoppstock, Thomas Müller-Pering, Hubert Käppel, Gerald Garcia, Costas Cotsiolis, Tadashi Sasaki and Roland Dyens.

Mr. Kaya has performed as a featured soloist with many symphony orchestras around the world including the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the New York premier of Roberto Sierra’s Folias for Guitar and Orchestra, the New Jersey Baroque Orchestra in the world premiere of Derwyn Holder’s Guitar Concerto with and the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of Suleyman Alnitemiz’s Guitar Concerto.

He has also performed with the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra and with the symphony orchestra of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University State Conservatory, his alma mater. In 2011, Kaya graduated from the conservatory with the highest honor degree and premier ranking. At the school he studied guitar with Soner Egesel, chamber music with Vieri Bottazzini and composition with Mehmet Nemutlu. While there he received the “Excellence” Scholarship from the Turkish Foundation of Education.

Currently, Mr. Kaya is a scholarship student of Michael Newman (the disciple of Andrés Segovia’s students Oscar Ghiglia and Albert Valdes Blain) in the graduate program at Mannes College at the New School For Music in New York City. He also studies privately with Sharon Isbin, a winner of multiple GRAMMY awards.

October’s performance will be his Carnegie Hall debut.