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Singing with Bobby McFerrin!

İrem Arslan


May 6th, 2019 was so far the best day of my life, not only because of the joy we had singing with Mr. McFerrin and Gimme Five, but also because of how my perspective on life and myself changed permanently on that particular day.

As Turkish people, we are mostly programmed to have a lack of self-confidence in our families, schools, etc. As a Turkish human being, if you want to do something on stage, you’re confronted with a big existential crisis: Am I too shy, or am I showing off now? How do I look on the stage? Do I even deserve to be here?


We acknowledged these facts and started working on it a long time ago in Chromas. With our visionary conductor and artistic director Başak, we have been working on our self-confidence, creative boundaries, posture, facial expression, communication with audience and each other since 2015. Soon after, we started doing our first collective improvisation sessions starting with "Circle singing" techniques. Our work as a choir with fully developed singers had gained acceleration with Başak’s master studies in Royal Conservatory of Denmark.

Vocal painting (VOPA - an advanced collective vocal improvisation technique applied with 75 hand signs developed by Professor Jim Daus Hjernøe) and intelligent choir methods helped us a lot on our fast learning path.

We started doing improvisation in our rehearsals and concerts, had longer and more advanced sessions each time, attended world-known festivals, performed in beautiful events and venues, and even organized our own festival. 


We love to move forward together each time, and Başak is the best dreamer among us. In 2018 she decided for us to have a concert with Bobby McFerrin, one of the greatest improvisers of all times and VOPA’s source of inspiration. She just creates what she dreams, and just a few months later we learned that we were so lucky to be on the stage with Bobby McFerrin and his fantastic acappella group Gimme 5.

Between February 16th and May 6th, we had a rehearsal camp for the concert; working on different improvisation techniques with Başak, stage presence with Ezgi Ay, we even had special studio rehearsals in Hayyam Studios to practice with different microphone types. Our costume sponsor Koton provided great clothes especially for that night.

It was an unbelievable thing for most of us: when you start to sing in a choir, you don’t expect to find yourself with Bobby McFerrin on the biggest stage of Istanbul!

Finally, the big day arrived. It was impossible to sleep for us before the concert, we met in Zorlu PSM in the morning, and everyone was extremely excited; we went on the stage for soundcheck at 5. There was this incredible sound engineer, Oscar Abi, who has been working with Bobby McFerrin for years. It took him 10 minutes to do the whole setting and it was the best a cappella sound we had ever heard.

Of course, up to the concert, we had researched Bobby McFerrin: watched videos, read books and everything that we find, and asked our friends who performed with him before. They all said that he prefers to have a sound check for only 5 minutes. 

Singers from Gimme 5, Rhiannon, Joey Blake and David Worm, arrived first to the stage, we did some call and response with them, then they did some live arrangements using the choir. After 15 minutes, Mr. McFerrin joined us. I can still feel the thrill I got at that moment. There he was, our vocal hero, the king of improv! That meant a lot to us!

He did some live arrangements with us, we were expecting him to divide us in 4 voices, and instead he went with 8 voices, which meant he was happy with what he heard. It was a 2 hour sound check like a dream consisting many different genres, tone colors, and rhythms. It was nothing like we heard before, nothing like we sang before. We were all so blessed to be there at that moment, with our microphones in hand, we were just putting all our energy in the music, looking at them with happy faces and living in the music of that moment. They were all happy working with us and they said many good things during and after the sound check. 


After the sound check, we were all so happy that for us the concert was only the dessert after the meal. We had the result of a 4 years of collective work, our own different backgrounds, our positive energy and the love of creating music together.


Finally, we dressed up, got ready for the concert and got on stage. As Bobby McFerrin loves to sing with the audience, he did some improvisation with the audience too, and all of a sudden we were a choir of 2000 people! This is the beauty of a cappella music: when we sing together, its more than music, it's like our souls coming together creating another kind of energy, like fireworks of emotions or colorful clouds of shared feelings; it’s pure magic! 

Rhiannon, Joey Blake, and David Worm are all experts of their own styles. David was the perfect bass, Joey was the gospel king, and Rhiannon was the queen of verbal improvisation!    

Halfway through the concert, Mr. McFerrin asked us to sing a song from our repertoire, which was a total shock for us! We didn’t have any rehearsals for this, and even Başak was not expecting him to make us sing a song of our own. It was such an exciting and good thing for us. We sang our favorite song from the 2018-2019 season, Tchaka.

Here we were, invited by Bobby McFerrin to perform our own song in the biggest hall of Istanbul, filled with that beautiful audience. 

I don’t know exactly at which moment that feeling arose, but at the end of the concert I knew that we did deserve to be there on that stage. I personally did deserve to be there and on any other stage, as long as I worked enough and continued creating music with love like that. That is the feeling which has changed my life forever, which made that day the best day of my life.

As singers of Chromas, we were already a big loving family, and having this huge experience together made us even closer to each other. We got the results of our work and started working harder for our future projects. I am so grateful to have this experience with my beloved choir, and starting with Başak I sincerely thank everyone who was part of that day. Let’s have more of these beautiful feelings together! 


Benim İçin Chromas

Semih Değirmenci


Chromas’a 2015’in sonunda girdim. Boğaziçi Üniversitesi’ni yeni kazanmıştım ve yaptığım ilk işlerden biri Chromas’a girmek oldu.

İlk provam dün gibi...

(Chromas'ın müziğini anlatmayacağım burada. Konserlerde anlatıyoruz zaten, konserlere gelin!)

2015 sonundan beri ise her pazar provadayım. Senede repertuara 14-15 yeni şarkı ekliyoruz. Her yaz, ya yurt içinde ya yurt dışında, en az bir büyük organizasyon yapıyoruz. 

2016 yazı Fransa’da, 2017 yazı Barselona’da geçti. 2018 yazında Ayvalık’ta uluslararası düzeyde bir koro festivali düzenledik. 2019 yazında ise işler büyüdü. Hollanda, Almanya ve Avusturya’da Avrupa turnesindeydik.

Yani dört mevsim gündemimde Chromas var.

Chromas’a gerçekten gönül verirseniz hayatınızda güzel şeyler oluyor.

Ondan sonra arkadaşlıklar var, ondan sonra hayaller... Şu an sahip olduğum arkadaşlarımın çoğu Chromas sayesinde. Hayallerim, Chromas sayesinde.

Yurt dışında katıldığımız festivallerde edindiğimiz, dünyanın dört bir yanından arkadaşlarla hala iletişimdeyiz. Başka festivallerde karşılaşıp mutlu oluyoruz.


İstanbul'da bombaların patladığı, terör saldırılarının bol olduğu bir seneydi. 2016’yı 2017’ye bağlayan gece Reina saldırısı yaşandı. Onlarca insan öldürüldü.

1 Ocak 2017, ülke bu olayı konuşuyor. Günlerden pazar, Chromas'ta prova günü. Prova iptal mi diye merak ederken, şefimiz Başak hayatta gördüğüm en doğru kararı verip provayı iptal etmedi. Prova için toplandığımızda herkesin yüzünden düşen bin parçaydı. İyi seneler dileklerinde bulunmayı bırakın, kimse kimseye nasıl olduğunu bile sormuyordu.

1 Ocak 2017 Pazar günü prova sonundaysa herkes hiç olmadığı kadar mutluydu. Müziğin birleştirici ve iyileştirici gücünü iliklerimize kadar yaşadığımız, inanılmaz bir andı.

1 Ocak 2017 Pazar’ı yaşadığım için kendimi çok şanslı hissediyorum. Eminim o gün orada olanlar da benimle aynı fikirdedir.

Yaşasın beraber yapılan sanat!

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