Since his concert debut at the age of 6, Celil Refik Kaya has received accolades for his myriad accomplishments at an early age, becoming the youngest first-prize winner of the 2012 JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition with the Buffalo Philharmonic. Prizewinner of international guitar competitions include Sofia (Bulgaria), Naxos (Greece), Vienna and Istanbul; and throughout the United States, award-winner at the 2012 Guitar Foundation of America (GFA), Indiana International Guitar Competition, Boston Guitar Competition, Texas International Guitar Competition, Schadt String Competition and Philadelphia Guitar Competition. In 2017, Mr. Kaya was named “Rising Young Musician of the Year” by the Donizetti Classical Music Awards in Istanbul.
Celil Refik Kaya appears as concerto soloist and in recital throughout the United States and Turkey. He has collaborated with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Virginia Symphony, Hilton Head Symphony, Brevard Festival Orchestra, Lake Placid Sinfonietta, Bilkent Symphony Presidential Symphony Orchestra in Turkey, Istanbul State Symphony, among many others. His recitals have included the D’Addario Performance Series at Carnegie Hall, The Frick Collection, New York Guitar Seminar Festival at Mannes College, Round Top Festival in Texas, Brevard Music Festival, Raritan River Music Festival and Ankara International Music Festival.
Mr. Kaya has presented the premieres of concertos by Roberto Sierra (Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra), Derwyn Holder (New Jersey Baroque Orchestra), Leonard Handler and Suleyman Alnitemiz (Istanbul State Symphony) and has collaborated with our generation’s great composers including Lowell Liebermann, Jorge Morel and Roberto Sierra.
Celil Refik Kaya’s first recording of Jorge Morel guitar music was critically acclaimed by the American Record Guide as ‘the performances are just perfect—he doesn’t try to make the music more than it is, but he does realize the real heart in these pieces.” Mr. Kaya has also recorded the works by Carlo Domeniconi and Agustin Barrios Mangore for Naxos Records and has future projects with Naxos.
Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Mr. Kaya began his interest in classical guitar at the age of six with his father, Dr. Mehmet Refik Kaya. Early teachers included generation-influenced educators such as Yusuf Doğan Büyüköğüt, Raffi Arslanyan, and Soner Egesel. When he was 19, Kaya earned his Bachelor of Music degree with highest honors from the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University State Conservatory in Istanbul where he studied composition with the famous Turkish composer Mehmet Nemutlu. He earned the “Excellence” Scholarship from the Turkish Educational Foundation. Mr. Kaya pursued his Master’s of Music in New York City at Mannes College of Music on full-scholarship where he studied with Michael Newman and received the Excellence in Performance Awards. He studied privately with Grammy-award winner Sharon Isbin and in composition with Frederic Hand and Donald Grantham. Celil Refik Kaya is the third recipient of Harvard’s prestigious Dumbarton Oaks Early Career Musician Fellowship. He earned the Harrington Fellowship at The University of Texas at Austin under the study of renowned guitarist Adam Holzman.
Mr. Kaya is also known as an avid composer with more than 100 works for orchestra, solo guitar, violin, piano, string trio, duets and others. His chamber and instrumental works have been performed throughout United States, Turkey, South Korea and at Sydney’s Opera House. His selected works were published by Les Productions d’Oz in Canada and FDPublications in the United States.
Celil Refik Kaya is poised to lead his generation of artists in the tradition of his masters.