Player Spotlight ~ Gizem Yücel ~ Viola

Opus 897, 15 5/8” Guarneri, 2015

“Thank you so much for making such beautiful violas. I’m in love with my new viola #897. In Turkish we compliment people who create anything with their hands by saying, “ellerine saglik” which translates as “health to your hands” so you continue making more.”

Gizem Yücel

Gizem Yücel is a versatile concert violist equally at home in many genres from jazz, rock, experimental to classical. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in viola performance from Hacettepe University State Conservatory and Bilkent University in her hometown of Ankara, Turkey. After moving to the States she received her artist diploma in viola performance from the State University of New York, Purchase College in New York and her doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a cognate in piano and conducting.

Gizem was a member of the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, and Bilkent Young Virtuoso in Ankara, Turkey. She has also been well-received internationally at such notable orchestral, chamber and solo music festivals as the Ayvalık festival in Turkey, Şimdi Now Festival in Belgium and Germany, Łańcut Festival in Poland, Musica en Compostela in Spain, and Festival Del Sole Napa Valley, the Texas Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, Hot Spring music festivals in the U.S. during which Gizem has collaborated with numerous esteemed musicians. Her performance credits also include a European tour with renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say and a tour with the legendary rock sensation Jethro Tull. She has also shared the stage with Rod Steward and her band opened for Santigold at an MTV production. Gizem has recorded with many great musicians from various genres such as jazz bassist Eric Revis, jazz pianist Antonio Truyols, classical pianists İdil Biret, Jean-Philippe Collard and folk-pop sensation Pearl and the Beard. She played live on TRT (Turkish Radio Television) radio made weekly appearances on Turkish late night television. Her SUNY quartet's recording has aired on the radio station WQXR NYC's "The Young Artists Of The Hour".

She now plays with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Dmitry Sitkovetsky in North Carolina and as principal/assistant principal viola in the Chelsea Symphony in NYC. She performs regularly in the Greensboro Symphony Chamber Series with guest artists as well as with her own chamber groups; Imaginary Friends Ensemble, her duo "Okyanus" with partner/pianist Antonio Truyols and New Yorker Ensemble with Emir Gamsizoglu. She teaches violin and conducts the orchestra at the Harmony Program in NYC, an organization inspired by El Sistema. Gizem's primary viola teachers include Betil Başeğmezler, Cavid Cafer, Scott Rawls and Ira Weller.

Visit her website at

Photo by Jacqui Haggerty
Return to Player Archive