Check out our interview with Korkmaz Can Saglam, this year’s recipient of the Ahmet Ertegun Memorial Scholarship!

1. How did you hear about the Ahmet Ertegun Scholarship at Juilliard? 

I actually heard about the scholarship before I applied to Juilliard! I was looking for scholarships available for Turkish students studying in the United States, and I remember I was so excited when I found out about the Ahmet Ertegun Scholarship that I emailed both the school and The American Turkish Society to learn about the application process. I was very impressed by reading about past scholars who were such successful people in their field, and I am honored to be a part of this group. 

2. Tell us a little about your experience so far. How has studying at Juilliard been, especially this academic year? 

I conducted most of my studies online this year, and I am very pleased about the way Juilliard handled the situation. Our professors have been very supportive, and they tried their best to maintain the highest level of education possible. Although it has been a tough year for everyone, it was inspiring to see the effort people put into being productive. My piano lessons were especially challenging since most of our work was on sound production! Since the sound quality on Zoom was not good enough, we recorded our pieces and talked about them during the lesson instead. In the end, although I was able to have more practice time and expand my repertoire, I am glad we are switching to in-person lessons soon. 


3. How has your experience as an Ahmet Ertegun Scholar impacted your work as a musician/artist?  

There is actually a story about this scholarship that goes back to my father who is a guitarist. He told me that it was his dream to come to the United States as a young musician and meet with Mr. Ertegun. While he was unable to come to the States, I in a way achieved his dream by continuing my studies with the help of this scholarship. Receiving this scholarship certainly has been a reminder of the achievements of Turkish people in the music field, and it will continue to be a source of inspiration for me. 

4. What is a piece or project that you worked on at Juilliard that you are most proud of? 

One of the most important and enjoyable things you can do as a musician is chamber music. It has been incredibly rewarding to collaborate with other musicians at Juilliard since the level of dedication to music is so high! When each member in the group is passionate about making music together, the energy you feel on the stage and the connection you form with the audience greatly inspire you. As more and more concerts are starting to happen, I am very much looking forward to collaborating with more people and taking the stage. 

5. What’s in the future for you?

 As I am getting closer to the end of my undergraduate studies, I realized I want to get out of school and build more and more connections. New York has so much to offer to a musician, and it would be a shame to leave the city without collaborating with many people and performing in a variety of places. That being said, I will be auditioning for my master’s degree this year, and hopefully, I will study with my great professor Sergei Babayan for two more years. I am very proud to soon be a graduate of The Juilliard School, and I am grateful for the vision of Mr. Ertegun and The American Turkish Society.