The Classical Music Festival of Fethiye serves not only as a forum for the performances of wonderful classical music played by phenomenal musicians, but also as a celebration of the late Benyamin Sönmez.

1. Benyamin Sönmez

Benyamin Sönmez was a highly talented Turkish cellist. Born in Germany to Turkish parents, he moved back to Turkey at the age of two with his parents and older brother. He lived and grew up in a town called Akşehir and spent his summers in Fethiye. His brother believes that Fethiye is where Benyamin really grew as a musician and drew inspiration, which is why it gives him great joy to host this festival honoring his late brother in Fethiye.

Unlike most highly skilled musicians, Benyamin took up the cello later in life at the age of 14. He was a very fast learner and had already won a national cello competition at the age of 16 with the help of his older brother, Muhmet. He became a very successful cellist before his passing in 2011 at age 28.This festival serves as a celebration of this young man’s life and amazing talents that he shared with Turkey.

2. When and Where

The festival happens in mid-September and the concerts are played in various locations all around Fethiye. Some occur on Mount Babadağ and at the famous Ölüdeniz beach. In fact, in 2017, they transported a piano to the summit of Mount Babadağ to perform a concert, after which, the pianist played the accordian as he paraglided down to the Ölüdeniz beach just in time to play the evening concert.

3. The Festival

The festival itself is organized by Benyamin Sönmez’s brother and mother. His brother, Muhmet, says of the festival that though it is not a highly competitive festival for classical music, it is very touching and emotional. People come from all over the world to celebrate Muhmet’s brother and perform amazing music. He says that it is not always typical classical music, but is always enjoyable and open to the public.

The festival is free of charge and Muhmet encourages all, local or visitor, to come share in the serene musical experience, honoring his late brother.

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