Meet Ozan Ardic, a first-year student double-majoring in piano and business, who also happens to speak four languages fluently. Ozan doesn’t like to think of himself as belonging to one place since he was born in Baku, Azerbaijan but has lived in both Russia and Turkey, before moving to Calgary, Alberta to attend Jr. and Sr. High School. After learning about his time at a very intensive Russian music academy as a young boy, his summer in Turkey during the civil war – which Ozan describes as “a terrifying experience, but also the most thrilling thing in my life…in a bad way” – and his dreams of one day playing in the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, it is clear that Ozan has a lot of passion – for piano, for his family, and for writing music. Spend a few minutes with him here.
Why did you choose Augustana?
I’m a city kid. I grew up in really big schools where class sizes were massive and even though my high school was a private school, it still had pretty big classes. I’ve always wanted a smaller campus because you get to know people better. Other than the social benefits, there are academic benefits. For example, the teachers know your name, which is actually a big deal to me!
What is the hardest thing about being a University student? The best thing?
It’d have to be self-organizing; trying to keep yourself in check. The best is probably the freedom to pursue a certain degree that you’re actually interested in as opposed to taking general studies as you did in high school.
How did you start playing piano?
When I was six I started playing formally. It started out as private lessons and then, two years in, my teacher recommended me to a full-time Russian music academy. I did really well there but it was very harsh, especially on an eight year old kid. By the time I was twelve, I was performing with some of the biggest orchestras in the city, and I had two or three big premiere recitals every year. However, the teachers were so harsh that your will to play music slowly died out. The very intense discipline gave me a strong foundation, but I couldn’t take it for too long – there was no wiggle room to make mistakes, or the freedom to even change your schedule. After I moved to Turkey, I quit the academy and went back into private lessons. I lost two years because I experienced freedom again and was barely practicing. When I moved to Canada, I found a teacher who was taught by the same Russian system, so we continued my education where I left off. She was very harsh on me too, but it worked this time because I was a bit more mature. I’m in remorse but I am kind of thankful for my initial schooling.
What do you want to do after you graduate from Augustana?
Ideally what I would love to do is perform all the time. I also love setting little projects for myself, so I would love to be touring, composing, performing, and investing in something like a music school. Or there’s a pretty good chance I’ll stay in the academy.
You compose music?
I take composing my own music super seriously – I’ve been doing it since I was eight and have taken harmony courses, and music composition and history courses. When I started, I played by the rules but then I decided to change it up [after taking other courses in music]. In order to defy the rules you need to know them first.
What did you do last summer?
I spent it in Turkey with my dad and grandparents – I go there every summer because we have a summer house next to my grandparents. The area is a big touristic attraction; it’s not very political, so I thought everything would be fine. But I did experience a lot of the war. I heard a few bombings – I ended up in the centre of Ankara at one point and all the riots were thereso I had to go through the most dangerous part of the city. I’ve never seen anything like that before; it was a terrifying experience.
Who is your favorite musician?
This is such a hard question! Chopin because I really like romantic piano, but also military Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. And Bach, how did I forget that? You can’t ask me this question; it’s too much for me!
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Oh, I love painting!
Do you have a favourite quotation?
“Be who you are, not who they want you to be” – Confucius
What’s something on your bucket list?
Go skydiving, and perform at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow.