by Jarrett Hoffman
When Turkish-American guitarist Celil Refik Kaya returns to the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society for a recital at Plymouth Church on Saturday, October 23 at 7:30 pm, there will be one important overlap with his program from four years ago: it will include a piece by Celil Refik Kaya.
“Celil, every concert you do for us, you have to play one of your own compositions,” Guitar Society executive director Erik Mann once said to him. Mann laughed as he recalled that line last month in an interview. It was a friendly request, not a stern one, but there was a seriousness behind it born out of respect for Kaya’s music.
Speaking from New Jersey, where he teaches at New Jersey City University, Kaya described the gestation of the work he’ll bring to Cleveland this weekend. “I was planning to compose this piece for a long time — since I was a teenager, actually. My father had a bunch of these surreal, fantastic sketches, and I wanted to write pieces based on them, but I never had a chance to do it.”
Finally, in the pandemic, he found time to return to his old drafts, and Sketches became a reality.