Student voice 8 May 2024

Grade 11 Ozgur G. celebrates release of first music album

By CIS Communications
Photograph by CIS Communications

We recently had the opportunity to speak with grade 11 student Ozgur G. about his journey so far at CIS. A student since grade 4, he will be graduating next year as a member of the Class of 2025 and he’s certainly made the most of the opportunities available to him at school! Students may recall his energetic lead role of Dewey Finn in 2022’s Secondary Musical School of Rock, or his dazzling performance at the annual Secondary talent show BeatFreaked.

Throughout his years at CIS, Ozgur has developed an undeniable passion for music and performance. In this interview he shares about his musical projects (including the release of his first album) and future aspirations, as well as his hopes for his final year at CIS and beyond.

What are your interests and passions?

Consuming and creating music is a huge part of my life. I have received classical training in piano for over 10 years, and was introduced to rock, inspired by the likes of Queen, Billy Joel, and Elton John at age 11. Self-taught, I picked up a guitar at the age of 14 and moved into progressive metal, inspired by artists such as Dream Theater and Opeth. I also enjoy experimenting with different vocal styles, including clean vocals and aggressive techniques such as fry screams and growls.

Apart from listening to and creating music, I’ve been on the CIS swim team since grade 6 and I enjoy weightlifting, running, and biking.

Could you share a little about your independent musical projects?

I am currently celebrating the release of my first album Op. 1: The Nihilist, a character-driven progressive metal concept album. As of now, I have released 18 songs on Spotify, YouTube, iTunes/Apple Music, and other music platforms.

I really enjoyed this project (which took 2 years to complete), because I had so much creative freedom and was also able to use it as an outlet for my own emotions. All songs were written, recorded, mixed, and produced by me, and I recorded vocals, guitars, bass, piano and programmed drums myself. This was also a great opportunity for me to improve my skills as a composer and as a producer, and I definitely challenged myself musically. One of my personal highlights was writing and recording the final song of the album, entitled “Evren”, which was split into 7 tracks and has a length of almost 45 minutes.

Inspiration has struck once again, and I am back in the process of songwriting for a potential new (and experimental) concept album.

Who is your favourite teacher and how have they inspired you?

Throughout my journey at CIS, the arts department has been especially supportive of me, especially Ms. Zellhoefer. I started working with her in grade 7 for the secondary musical Once on This Island, and under her guidance I have been inspired to challenge myself as a musician. She has been my music teacher for the past 3 years and always takes the time to listen to my thoughts on music or new musical discoveries, as well as my own compositions. I am also endlessly grateful for her constructive feedback, as it encourages me to strive to make a piece of music the best that it can possibly be.

What are you most looking forward to in your final year at CIS?

I will be graduating in 2025, and I see my final year to be a year of more learning, and becoming a better version of myself. I aim to improve my music and hone my artistry because there is always so much more to learn. Refining my skills and acquiring new ones also allow me to witness the growth of my artistic potential - which does bring me satisfaction. I also look forward to completing my extended essay, which will be on Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concertos. Most importantly, I want to leave my own positive mark on the CIS community during senior year as a tribute to the many friends and teachers I’ve had over the years.

What do you hope to do after CIS?

I’ve known that I wanted to pursue music since middle school. In a few months, I will be attending a 5-week summer programme at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts for which I have received a scholarship, and I plan on completing my audition and interview for my undergraduate programme of choice at Berklee while I am there.

Apart from Berklee, I will be applying to the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto to study music production, composition, and music therapy. My dream occupation continues to change to this day, but recently I have developed an interest in pursuing music therapy thanks to my interest in psychology, and the dramatic increase of demand for music therapists in the past couple of years.

At the end of the day, I know for a fact that music production and performance will continue to be a huge part of my life, and I hope to release more music in the many years to come!