Celil Refik Kaya, age 20

Celil Refik Kaya

International competition winner and recording artist Celil Refik Kaya has received accolades for his myriad accomplishments at an early age.

Mr. Kaya was born in Kadikoy, Istanbul.  He began classical guitar studies with his father Dr. Mehmet Refik Kaya, and later with guitarist Yusuf Dogan Buyukogut. Mr. Kaya also studied advanced interpretation with Raffi Arslanyan throughout his career.

In 2004 at age 13, Celil won second prize at the Forum Gitarre Wien International Classical Guitar Competition in Austria, competing against guitarists in the 20 year old category. In Vienna he had an opportunity to study with A. Baluch, C. Cotsiolis, M. Heinzmann, T. Müller Pering, and later with G. Garcia, F. Gerstmeier, G. Reichenbach, A. Vettoretti, T. Hoppstock and E. Kassner in Iserlohn, Germany.

In 2007, he performed a recital at the international Classical Guitar Meeting at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, followed by master class studies with Steven Thachuk, Hubert Käppel, David Russell, Tadashi Sasaki and Alexander S. Ramirez in Koblenz, Germany.

In 2008, he won third prize at the Inonu University 1st International Guitar Festival Competition and first prize at the Guitar Competition of Istanbul Pera Guitar Festival, as well as a third prize at the Naxos, Greece 30th International Classical Guitar Competition, in which he competed with adult guitarists. In 2009, he won the first prize at the Young Virtuosos Competition held in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Mr. Kaya has performed for numerous live television and radio programs in Turkey, and as guest soloist with many symphony orchestras, including the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra, Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, and Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University State Conservatory Symphony Orchestra. He presented the World Premiere of Turkish composer Suleyman Alnitemiz’s Guitar Concerto.

In 2011, he graduated from the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University State Conservatory with the Highest Honor Degree and ranked first in the entire conservatory that year.


Currently he is a scholarship student of Michael Newman (the disciple of Andrés Segovia’s students Oscar Ghiglia and Albert Valdes Blain) in the Graduate Program of the Mannes College, The New School For Music in New York City.

Back to Semifinalists