Volume 11, Number 25
5 April 2005

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This Week
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Listen to the Silence
If you can, please listen to Cem Adrian singing our famous folk song "Uzun İnce Bir Yol" on his first album. If you've listened to it before, listen to it again. But this time, don't listen to the singer. Don't listen to his unique voice, or to the accompanying instruments (one of which is the piano, played by Fazıl Say).
This time, listen to the everything in the recording except the song. But be careful, because you'll hear nothing, and you'll probably think that it doesn't mean anything. And thinking this way would mean that you're missing my point.
In order to realize what that this silence means, you must first take note of the applause at the end of the song. The recording was made in the center hall of the FEASS Building. It was noontime. Most people did not have classes, but (as you know) hardly any of them had very much time for lunch: they either had to go and find somewhere to eat very quickly beforehand, or had to skip lunch altogether. Despite this fact, the area set up for Fazıl Say and his student Cem Adrian to perform in was surrounded by hundreds of students. Plus, the stairs facing the area and all three balconies from which people could see the performance were full of Bilkenters. There was no empty place left anywhere near the hall.
This audience had every right to leave, to talk to each other or even shout across the hall. It's their school building; it's their free time. And the price of admission was not a consideration, because it was free. So, there was no reason to stay, except for the beauty of the performance. But the students neither left the building nor made any noise. The only sound was the music being performed by Adrian and Say.
Hence, such a silence tells us a lot: a lot about Bilkent students, and a lot about how a really good performance can captivate an audience without any commands or orders. I can easily say that such a silence answers a lot of questions about what kind of a place Bilkent is.
Thinking it over again and again, this has made me prouder of our school than anything else I've seen. So, please listen to this recording, but this time try not to listen to the music itself, because the background silence tells us as much as the song does.

İsmail O. Postalcıoğlu (POLS/II)

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