London born Tolga Kashif is regarded as one of the most diversely talented musicians of his generation, with success ranging from a critically-acclaimed CD of Richard Strauss tone poems to the musical direction of the BBC Children in Need’s Platinum-selling single, ‘Perfect Day’.
He studied conducting and composition at the Royal College of Music, then later at Bristol University with Derek Bourgeois. His professional début was with the London Philharmonic, after which he has been a frequent guest in this country with the Royal Philharmonic, City of London Sinfonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Northern Sinfonia. In 1992 was appointed Associate Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra.
Overseas engagements have included conducting the Polish National Symphony and the St Petersburg Philharmonic and he undertook a successful series of concerts at the 1989 Istanbul International Festival with the RLPO. He gave several concerts with the Presidential Orchestra of Turkey and returned to Turkey at the end of 2003 to conduct in Bursa.
Since 1989 Tolga Kashif has been an established composer and a creative partner in The Music Sculptors, one of the principal music companies specialising in sound-to-picture, with numerous commissions from the BBC and all of the major broadcasters. Combining the roles of Composer, Conductor and Producer, he has worked with the BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, English Chamber and National Symphony. Among notable successes are the soundtrack for the award-winning animation ‘First Snow of Winter’, ‘Where the Heart Is’ for ITV and documentaries such as ‘QED’ and the BBC’s ‘Gulf War’. He has also written and performed many prominent advertising campaigns. 1997’s ‘Perfect Day’ single featured artists such as Elton John, David Bowie, Bono, Lesley Garrett, Sir Andrew Davis, the Brodsky Quartet and Courtney Pine and led to the receipt of many accolades and media awards.
Media work includes the score of a feature film, ‘The Criminal’, released in Spring 2001 and available on DVD, and he also conducted the English Chamber Orchestra on a CD of guitar works. He conducted the world premiere of his composition ‘The Garden of the Prophet’ with the ECO at the Barbican. In 2001 he composed two songs and arranged a third for Lesley Garrett’s CD ‘Travelling Light’ on EMI. The animation ‘2nd Star to the Left’, featuring the voices of Hugh Laurie and Barbara Windsor was broadcast on BBC TV on Christmas Day 2001, featuring another successful score.
March 2002 saw the world premiere of a new song written by him commissioned by the National Foundation for Youth Music. “Drop in the Ocean” was performed at the Royal Festival Hall and received a further performance at the Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Further performances number over 500, with the total number of performers in the ‘000s.
In 2001 Tolga Kashif was commissioned by EMI Classics to compose a symphony piece based on the music of legendary group, Queen. The Queen Symphony was released on EMI Classics in 2002, and received its world premiere at the Royal Festival Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the composer. Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor attended the performance, as did Freddie Mercury’s mother Jer Bulsara and the CD has been a great success, featuring regularly in international Classical Top 10’s. Tolga was also Arranger and Producer for Lesley Garrett’s last two CDs, both released on EMI Classics.
In 2003 he directed the Northern Sinfonia in a successful UK tour with Lesley Garrett and in June gave the Turkish premiere of The Queen Symphony as the opening concert of the International Izmir Festival with the Royal Philharmonic before an audience of 4,500. Later that year he conducted the piece in Australia in two sold-out performances at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The performances were broadcast on ABC Classic FM Radio in Australia and ABC TV also showed the world premiere concert, which has further been shown throughout Europe. The piece has now received performances in the US, Scotland and the Netherlands as well as a second Royal Festival Hall performance. Tolga Kashif also worked with Vanessa Mae on her last CD for Sony Classical, and Maksim for his last EMI Classics CD.
He returned to direct the Northern Sinfonia on another UK tour with Lesley Garrett in 2004 and appeared with them at the Sage in Gateshead in 2005. He also accompanied treble Harry Sever in his ‘Ave Maria’ at the Royal Albert Hall’s Classic Response concert and his version of ‘Jerusalem’ opened the Classical Brits, also at the Royal Albert Hall and broadcast on ITV. He also recorded songs of his on a CD with singer Amy Nuttall for EMI Classics and conducted a CD of film music with the Royal Philharmonic.
In 2006 he conducted the Orchestra of Opera North in a sold-out performance of The Queen Symphony and also conducted the Royal Philharmonic, including at the Royal Albert Hall. He conducted the piece at the Septembre Musical in Montreux to commemorate what would have been Freddie Mercury’s 60th birthday and again with the Noord Nederlands Orkest.
He has continued to conduct Queen Symphony regularly, including at the Casa da Musica in Porto with the Orquesta Nacional and a UK tour of the piece took place in spring 2007 with the Royal Philharmonic and Orchestra of Opera North. The following year saw the release of a CD he arranged and produced with Lesley Garrett for UCJ which entered the UK charts at number 11. He also collaborated on her next CD and completed a further CD for UCJ and ITV with the Royal Philharmonic. He also conducted his own compositions and arrangements in concerts in Seoul with the Royal Philharmonic and the national pop icon, Seo Taiji.
His last CD, entitled ‘The Genesis Suite’ met with favourable reviews in the mainstream press and received its first performance at the Barbican with the London Symphony Orchestra who also appear on the disc. He has continued to conduct Queen Symphony in the UK, Czech Republic, Holland and Portugal and is working on new commissions in the UK and overseas.
Tolga Kashif is a Trustee of the National Foundation for Youth & Music.