Benyamin Sönmez Classical Music Festival And Babadağ – Just Wow!

Each year, for the last few years, Fethiye has played host to a classical music festival in memory of young cellist, Benyamin Sönmez. Benyamin Sönmez was an up and coming master of the cello. A winner of various awards and visitor to many countries where he was invited to play at many prestigious festivals. In 2011, at the age of 28, Benyamin Sönmez suffered from a heart attack which took his life. And, after a funeral service at the Hacettepe University Conservatory (where he studied the cello), he was laid to rest in Fethiye. The Benyamin Sönmez Classical Music Festival is held annually in his memory.

Benyamin Sönmez Classical Music Festival – Babadağ

The first time we attended one of the festival recitals was the sunset cello recital at Çalış Beach in 2012. If we’re being honest, we trundled along there purely to take some photos. It was a quartet of cellists…really not my thing (Barry’s a bit of classical music fan, but not me). But we got there and I got my camera out and then the cellists started to play. Woooow, tears to the eyes. Just a beautiful sound; especially with the backdrop of a Çalış Beach sunset!

Heading Up Babadağ Mountain, Fethiye

The road to the top of Babadağ

So now, we’re at the point where we say at the beginning of the year, “Hope the Fethiye classical music festival is on this year.” We went to the opening sunset cello recital at Benyamin Sönmez Parkı in Fethiye and then we read there would be something happening at Zirve Restaurant close to the top of Babadağ, too. Hmmm, sunset at the top of the Fethiye area’s highest mountain…live music…possibly paragliders taking off…yeah, let’s go!

But we’ve got lots of friends here at the moment, so realistically (we thought), the chances of us making that part of the festival were pretty slim. We sat at Cafe Pazar one night and mentioned in a throwaway comment to them that we’d thought about going, expecting everyone to not really take much notice. But no…

“Oh wow, we’re up for that. Up the mountain? Sounds great!”

Heading Up The Mountain

Before we knew it, all 11 of us were ‘up for that,’ and we’d priced up – and booked – a minibus and driver for 3:30 the day after. And, at 3:30 the day after, we all set off up the road and track towards the summit of Babadağ. You can read about the journey to the summit of Babadağ via this link because we had a fantastic driver who knows the area well. He did a couple of detours and bonus ‘photo stops’ at scenic points…so that’s for a photo post.

Paraglider, Summit Of Babadağ Mountain, Fethiye, Turkey

A paraglider prepares for take off

Barry’s seen all this before because he’s done the paragliding from the summit of Babadağ – but, for me, this was all a first. We’re just below the summit here, at Zirve Restaurant and another take off point. It’s WOW! views, straight away. Hills silhouetted against each other, resting on the sea below. We can see Gemiler Adası (St. Nicholas Island) and Kayaköy; we can see the lagoon of Ölüdeniz and all the way across to the small town of Göcek. It’s almost like being in a plane, except we’re on a cobbled take off point for paragliders.

Dinner & All That Jazz

But we’re here for the music. Once we’ve torn ourselves away from the views and the paragliders and the size of the take off area (am I actually pondering whether I could contemplate paragliding – it all looks so easy from here), we make our way through the restaurant and to the garden area where the performance will take place. It’s already busy and, of course, all the tables are reserved. Dinner and jazz, at the top of a mountain – always going to be a winner for lots of people.

Live Jazz Music, Zirve Cafe, Babadağ, Ölüdeniz

It was a good crowd!

We wondered how busy it was going to be – and we got our answer. Not a spare seat or table to be had! But we were all fine stood up at the back, admiring the views and taking in the atmosphere.

Jazz Quartet On Babadağ Mountain, Ölüdeniz, Fethiye

The jazz quintet was a quartet

I’m definitely more of a fan of the cellos and the orchestras we’ve seen as part of the Benyamin Sönmez Fethiye Classical Music Festival than I am of jazz; but who cares when you’re close to the summit of a mountain with views over the Mediterranean, paragliders drifting silently below, the gentle sound of saxophone radiating the atmosphere? It’s one of those pinch-yourself moments. One night we’re half-mentioning we might go to the top of a mountain for music and the night after, here we are!

Sunset Chill

And you can get a rough idea of the mood from this video. All very chilled and tranquil and the band continued to play as the sun started to set. At this point, we really felt we also had to appreciate the sunset from the top of Babadağ so we sloped away to take all in; music still playing in the distance…

Views From The Top Of Babadağ Mountain, Ölüdeniz, Fethiye, Turkey

Sunset views from Babadağ

These are the moments where you can sit, ponder, take all in, feel a bit excited when you spot a landmark you recognise, be comforted in the familiarity of landmarks you recognise straight away…and just generally remind yourself (as if we need to) how beautiful this little corner of the world really is…

  • We also made a video of the cello recital in Fethiye at Benyamin Sönmez Parkı a couple of evenings earlier. Everything was classical until I set my camera to the video setting… If you like Michael Jackson’s, ‘Smooth Criminal’ (or if you’re just curious), give the cello version a listen by clicking this link for day 1 of the Fethiye Classical Music Festival.
  • If you would like to know more about Benyamin Sönmez, you can read this short biography on Wikipedia.

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  1. . . what a delight – for atmosphere/location it would certainly beat the smoke-filled venue of yesteryear at Ronnie’s – not so sure the music could be bettered though. Enjoyed this.

    • Ha ha, we’ve never been to Ronnie’s so can’t compare…but we know a performance o the summit of Babadağ is definitely special. Shame we weren’t closer to the music for the video but never mind. Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  2. There can’t be many places in the world where para gliders take off serenaded by classical musicians

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