Bartu Elci-Ozsoy is a 16 year old violinist, conductor and composer, and a student at the prestigious Paris Conservatory, studying with the eminent violin professor Alexis Galpérine. He recently joined Amazon Aid Foundation’s Artists for the Amazon, to channel his passion and talent to raise awareness about the importance of preserving the Amazon Rainforest, a place that holds a special place in his heart and inspires his creative work.
During August he is collaborating with Emil Lidé, a Swedish LEGO artist, to create awareness of the challenges facing the Amazon. Every day, he is composing a piece of music and playing it with his violin while Emil is building an Amazon Rainforest-related theme with LEGO pieces. They use Instagram to share their daily progress with their followers and share messages about the Amazon.
“I first became interested in the Amazon Rainforest for its beauty and biodiversity,” he recalls. “When I was very little, I became very interested in bird songs after I received Les Beletsky’s book with a built-in digital audio player with songs and calls of amazing birds. Then I read and watched more and more about the Amazon and Rainforest, and loved everything about its ecosystem.”
It makes perfect sense that bird song would be the connector to the Amazon. A musical prodigy, Bartu chose to play the violin at the age of four and in his first lesson proclaimed that he wanted to start playing baroque pieces. Before his fifth birthday, he began studying music theory and composition saying “his head is full of music waiting to be written.” Two of the first pieces he composed when he was 5, were presented to President Barack Obama in 2010 during the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship.
Bartu has since participated in masterclasses with noted violinists, such as Vadim Repin, and started his conducting lessons at the age of 14 with Dominique Fanal, the principal conductor of the Orchestre Sinfonietta de Paris. He now studies conducting with internationally renowned conductor Jean-Claude Casadesus and one of the most accomplished conductors of the new generation David Molard Soriano. Bartu made his debut in Paris at the age of 15 by conducting his 1st Symphony and playing the Violin Concerto of Mendelssohn with the Orchestre Sinfonietta de Paris. He also conducted the 29th Symphony of Mozart at the same concert and donated the profit of the Premiere to the Notre Dame Foundation for the reconstruction of the Cathedral after the fire.
Support by other artists has made a big impact on his life, providing opportunity to expand his passion and burgeoning career. “I am very lucky to be surrounded by incredible people who support my dreams,” Bartu notes. “Among them, two distinguished musicians are very special to me and I consider them as my mentors and role models both professionally and personally: Maestro Jean-Claude Casadesus, and Alexis Galpérine, classical violinist and my professor at the Paris Conservatoire. They are not only highly notable musicians but also great personalities, not only with abundant experience, knowledge and wisdom but also with their warm spirit, generosity and positive energy. Each helped me make important decisions in my life and continue to inspire and guide me.”
Raised in an environment where creativity and engagement is encouraged, Bartu has been carrying out solidarity projects with artists all over the world, including those to highlight the Amazon, since the outbreak of COVID-19. “During lockdown, I read about the suffering of Amazon tribes from COVID-19 and efforts by the NGOs to raise funds to help them, and I wanted to do something to contribute. My first collaboration was with the UK-based artist Yannis Papayannis who “draws” classical music. We prepared a video together in which he drew the Amazon River while listening to the first movement of my 1st Symphony.”
“It may sound cliche but we are on this planet for a reason and each one of us have an important role to play,” he continues. “Even a small role can make a great impact and contribute to the solution of a major problem. With the COVID-19 outbreak, it has become much more evident that we are so vulnerable, fragile and need one another. This is true not only for us, the human beings, but for the whole ecosystem which we are a part of.”
When it comes to advice for young people, he says, “Find a cause that is close to your heart (we are not short of causes these days) and act upon it. Do your research: read, watch and interact and brainstorm with people to choose the idea you believe would be the best response. Nothing is difficult or impossible if you work with passion, purpose, focus and motivation. Art, creativity and collaboration are I believe the most powerful tools to use for responding to a challenge.”
And while there are many problems in the world today, he also sees great optimism and sources of motivation. Citing Albert Camus’s Nobel Banquet in Stockholm in 1957 — “Every generation, no doubt, believes it is destined to remake the world. Mine, however, knows it won’t. But perhaps its task is greater. It’s to keep the world from falling apart.”
“I think these words cannot be more relevant than today,” he says. His remaking begins with the power of music, transcending all other forms of language to reshape and hold things together.