Who or what inspired you to take up singing and pursue a career in music?
I was happy to sing in choir until a tenor colleague told me I should take voice lessons. He inspired me with lots of recordings from the golden age of opera and introduced me to my vocal teacher with whom I studied.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
A production with Claudio Abbado, where I sang my first solo as the first prisoner in Beethoven’s opera Fidelio. To sing under his baton felt surreal, and made me want more and to go as far as possible in this beautiful profession.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
It was the opening night in Norma and I jumped in as Pollione.
I was prepared to sing the smaller part of Flavio. 15 minutes before the show a colleague realised he couldn’t sing and had no voice. The audience was waiting and the opera director was anxious not to announced that the performance was to be cancelled. I didn’t know the part of Pollione but because of my choir experience I decided to take over the role and sing from the side with a music stand “prima vista”. It was a big risk because I didn’t know if I could sing this very dramatic and demanding role which I had never studied before, but it was a happy end and I saved the night.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
My debut at Wigmore Hall with Simon Lepper was a very special moment.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
I think I have qualities in any type of music but maybe I sing Schubert best.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
Until now I was always in a company so I decided my schedule with the opera and casting director but from next season I am very happy to plan my schedule and repertoire myself since I will be working as a freelance singer. I try to find a variety of different languages and also sing new roles which I haven’t sung yet.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Difficult to name one place only but since I feel very well linked to the audience in the Wigmore Hall. I must say I am very happy to come back to London any time.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Amateur musicians are my favourite musicians since they do it all for the love to music. It is 100% authentic and with passion.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
My debut as Rodolfo in La Bohème – I was very surprised and overwhelmed by the applause and bravos.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
To enjoy myself on stage, have nice colleagues and make music at a high level.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Learn to believe and love yourself. Be patient and take each “no” as motivation to work harder and show others that you can do it.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To stay healthy and have my friends and family around me.
What is your most treasured possession?
My wooden glasses – I have them for 5 years!
Voted into the top ten of a new generation of rising stars and hailed for his golden voice by Opera Now Magazine, Ilker Arcayürek is the winner of the 2016 International Art Song Competition of Stuttgart’s Hugo Wolf Academy. He was finalist of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 2015 and has been selected a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists through 2017. He made his highly anticipated Wigmore Hall recital debut featuring lieder by Schubert and Schumann in autumn 2016 and has been reinvited many times since then. Born in Turkey, Ilker moved to Vienna with his family at the age of five, living in the Fourth District of the City, Wieden, which is where Schubert died.
Ilker’s debut solo album of Schubert’s Der Einsame (with Simon Lepper, piano) is available now
(photo: IMG Artists)