The finals of the singing competition at the International Language and Culture Festival, which brought together about 100 students from 27 countries under the motto “Hearts United” this year, was held in the Romanian capital of Bucharest on Sunday.
The event, formerly called the Turkish Olympiads, is organized by the International Turkish Association (TÜRKÇEDER). The first 11 editions of the event were hosted in Turkey, but due to government hostility and ongoing persecution of the Hizmet movement -- which inspired the culture festival -- at home, the organizers this year are holding the event in various foreign countries to avoid potential problems.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the Hizmet movement of attempting to overthrow his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, but has presented no evidence to support this allegation.
The song finale was held at Sala Palatului, the largest cultural congress hall in Bucharest. The event started with a brief commemoration of 301 miners who were killed during a coal mine disaster in the town of Soma in Turkey's western province of Manisa on May 13. About 100 students from 22 countries presented a Turkish folk song together on stage in memory of the Soma victims.
Twelve finalists from 12 countries competed against one another, singing Turkish songs, to become the festival's “Stars of Song,” during the singing finale. Anita Syla from Kosovo, who sang the Turkish song “Firuze,” took first place the competition while Ayhan Xelili from Azerbaijan ranked second with the Turkish song “Zahidem.” Dalia Chih from Algeria came third, singing “Adını Sen Koy” (You choose the name). Apart from singing, students from Romania, Kazakhstan, Mozambique and Azerbaijan put on other captivating performances for the event's spectators.
Famous actor and producer Hamdi Alkan, who was among the jury, told the Cihan news agency that Turkish teachers serving at Turkish schools abroad have achieved great things in the countries they have served for so long. He said: “I no longer believe that these countries [where there are Turkish schools] are foreign lands. These teachers have been working miracles there over the last 10 years. No one and no power can block the love inside people's hearts.”
Alkan also said that he will support the International Language and Culture Festival as long as he lives.
Another jury member, opera singer Hakan Aysev, said that this love should not only be shared in Romania but throughout Turkey and the world.
The jury consisted of renowned artists and performers this year, as it has in previous years. Well-known performer and composer Ali Kocatepe, opera singer Aysev, Turkish folk singers Bedia Akartürk and Nuray Hafiftaş, academic Haydar Tanrıverdi, Alkan, director Bülent Osma, voice artists Ertuğrul Erkişi and Aslıhan Erkişi, pan flute virtuoso Gheorghe Zamfir, Romanian performer Andreea Marin and pianist Horia Moculescu were among the contest's jury members this year.
The inauguration ceremony of this year's International Language and Culture Festival took place at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa on May 31, and students from countries including the US, Tunisia, Tajikistan and South Korea sang songs in Turkish as well as in Amharic, English, Arabic, French and German. The audience was also entertained by folk dances performed by Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Azerbaijani and Ethiopian students.
Published on Today's Zaman, 16 June 2014, Monday