Cihat Aşkın, a Turkish violinist born in Istanbul, is recognized as an international representative of the Turkish violin school, with a multifaceted identity shaped by his command of both Eastern and Western worlds. As a virtuoso violinist, he has embarked on concert tours across North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, sharing the products of Turkish and universal art with global audiences through recitals and concerts. In addition to his stage performances, Aşkın has been invited for numerous radio and TV recordings, educational activities, conferences, and workshops, establishing himself as a versatile and internationally acclaimed figure through the educational and artistic institutions he has institutionalized.
His interest in music was discovered at a very young age by his family, who enrolled him in a conservatory. Aşkın’s extraordinary talent and disciplined work ethic led to a successful student life, graduating from the class of Prof. Ayhan Turan. He gave his first recital at the age of 11, and by the time he was 15, he had performed all of Paganini’s Caprices and gained recognition nationwide by performing with the Turkish Presidential Symphony Orchestra. Subsequently, he continued his studies in London, working with Rodney Friend at the Royal College of Music and Yfrah Neaman at The City University, earning Master’s and Doctoral degrees.
Aşkın has received numerous national and international awards, including the Rome Foyer des Artistes in 2002, the Kennedy Center Gold Medal in 2009, the Buenos Aires Honorary Medal in 2017, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) Honorary Award in 2021, and the Sevda Cenap And Honorary Award and Gold Medal in the same year. He was appointed as an Associate Professor in 1998 and as a Professor in 2006 at Istanbul Technical University. Between 1999 and 2012, he served as the founding co-chair of the Advanced Music Research Center (MIAM) at the same institution. Additionally, he held the position of Director at the State Conservatory of Turkish Music from 2008 to 2012.
Acknowledged by music authorities as one of today’s leading violin virtuosos, Aşkın has participated in numerous festivals across 53 countries on four continents, receiving acclaim from the international press and sharing the stage with respected artists such as Shlomo Mintz, Yoel Levi, Raphael Walfisch, Jesus Lopes-Cobos, and Ida Haendel.
Apart from being invited as a jury member to international competitions, he has conducted Masterclasses and lectured at significant universities in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East. From 1999 to 2011, he served as a faculty member at the Keshet Eilon Summer School in Israel and from 2011 to 2017 at the Crans Montana Summer School in Switzerland. He also organized summer and winter schools in Italy, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In 2001, with the aim of introducing children to music aesthetics at an early age, Cihat Aşkın initiated the “Cihat Aşkın and Little Friends (CAKA)” project, which is considered a revolutionary movement in music. Through this movement, he helped launch the stage careers of numerous talented artists in Turkey and neighboring regions. To support young artists, Aşkın established the Aşkın Ensemble in 2007 and consolidated educational activities under Aşkın Academia in 2017.
Starting his composition work at an early age, Aşkın has also made arrangements and composed film music for the violin and various instruments. In 1998, he released the “Minyatürler” album, introducing the violin to Turkey, and began working with Kalan Müzik. Through this collaboration, he recorded the first CD versions of many Turkish pieces and, in 2006, released the groundbreaking “Kreutzer 42 Etudes” album, a first in the world of violin literature. Aşkın’s recordings have been released by various companies, including Kalan Müzik, Warner Classics, Meridien, CPO, Marco Polo, and Naxos. His most recent project in 2019, “Turkish Waltzes,” was released both as a CD and an LP, receiving widespread acclaim.
Cihat Aşkın recorded “Bach Solo Sonatas and Partitas” and Schubert’s sonatinas in Italy in 2019, which were subsequently released as a CD by the Italian Limen Music label.
Institutionally, Aşkın founded the Istanbul Chamber Orchestra in 2001, starting its season concerts. Under the CAKA education project, he organized educational concerts in various cities across Turkey. From 2007 onwards, he consistently conducted CAKA Summer and Winter Schools domestically and internationally. Starting in 2013, he organized the “World Violins” festival. Moreover, to preserve cultural identity and support young artists, he conducted regular concerts and radio programs at TRT (Turkish Radio and Television Corporation) from 2014 to 2023. In 2023, he assumed the role of General Music Director for Adrafest, an organization he founded.
Notably, composers Yalçın Tura, Ertuğrul Oğuz Fırat, Arda Agoşyan, Oğuzhan Balcı, Kamran İnce, Hasan Tura, and Aydın Karlıbel have dedicated works to Cihat Aşkın. He performs using Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume’s violin (1846) and Gaetano Sgarobotto’s violin (1924) during his concerts. Cihat Aşkın is a Kalan Music and Larsen Strings artist.