Ceyda Berk-Söderblom is an independent cultural manager, producer and curator with more than 17 years of experience, mostly working as the programmer of international festivals with close ties to the world-known institutions, orchestras, artists, and ensembles. Ceyda has worked with diverse cultures and has an extensive international professional network, specialist knowledge in programming, curating, cultural branding, co-creation, fundraising and sponsorship. Currently based in Helsinki, she co-founded MiklagardArts to focus on internationalisation, inclusiveness, innovation, bridge building and initiates new artistic expressions arising from creative clashes between cultures. Ceyda is originally from Izmir, -historically Smyrna-, a-8500-year-old city located on the Aegean Coast of Turkey.
Being born and growing in a city right in the middle of historical places such as Ephesus, Pergamon, Sardis, Klazomenai, she has been constantly surrounded by culture. Her initial experience of arts, however, introduced by her late grandma, who is a poet, was the recognition of the endless horizons of literature. This very first encounter with art haunted her soul when she was a child and became a passion in choosing her path and field of work.
Ceyda worked for Izmir Foundation for Culture, Arts and Education (IKSEV), in her home city of Izmir; one of the most established art institutions of Turkey. A non-profit, non-governmental Foundation is the organiser of two international festivals, and national composition contest, home to a music academy and museum. She held positions as Festival Coordinator and Main Producer at the International Izmir Festival (a member of European Festivals Association), and Programmer at Izmir European Jazz Festival (a member of European Jazz Network) for more than 14 years. Both festivals are flagship cultural events of the country, with high-level international visibility.
During those years, Ceyda initiated transnational collaborations including Martha Graham Dance Company’s Panorama project for the first time in Europe; presenting the RE-RITE, an award-winning immersive/interactive installation that features a film of the Philharmonia Orchestra playing Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen; co-organising ‘Yolda / Onderweg / En Route’, a musical celebration of the 50th year of Turkish migration to Belgium; initiating “Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe (EFFE)” Hub for Turkey, a project of the European Festivals Association (EFA) co-financed by the European Union; co-organising the Atelier for Young Festivals Managers of the European Festivals Association (EFA) in Izmir.
She has also curated programmes internationally, including artistic programmes celebrating diplomatic relations between Turkey and the Netherlands, and Turkey and Poland. In 2010, she wrote a grant project financed by Izmir Development Agency to found MUZIKSEV, the first traditional instrument museum of Turkey. Ceyda worked for the other initiatives of IKSEV such as Academy IKSEV, a pedagogical platform for master classes in the field of music and dance, and the Dr. Nejat Eczacıbasi National Composition Contest, which aims to encourage young Turkish composers of contemporary music. In 2010, she wrote a grant project financed by Izmir Development Agency to found MUZIKSEV, the first traditional instrument museum of Turkey.
In 2014, Ceyda was awarded with the medal of “Bene Merito” by the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Poland for promoting Polish arts on an international festival scene.
During her time at International Izmir Festival, she has presented companies such as Béjart Ballet Lausanne, The Tokyo Ballet, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Dutch National Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Martha Graham Dance Company and Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve; orchestras such as Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini conducted by Lorin Maazel, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino conducted by Zubin Mehta, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala conducted Myung-Whun Chung, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Daniele Gatti, Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Herbert Blomstedt, Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, New York Philharmonic conducted by Alan Gilbert, Sinfonia Varsovia conducted by Kzysztof Penderecki, Orchestra Luigi Cherubini conducted by Riccardo Muti, and soloists such as Emanuel Ax, Giora Feidman, Gheorghe Zamfir, Ian Anderson, Mihaela Ursuleasa, Julian Llyod Webber, Lucia Micarelli, Alexander Ghindin, David Lively, Janis Vakarelis, Cyprien Katsaris, Michele Campanella, Shlomo Mintz, Krzysztof Jabłoński, Mario Frangoulis, Yannis Markopoulos, Jose Carreras, Cesaria Evora, Emma Shapplin, Jane Birkin, Katia Guerreiro, Omara Portuondo, Robin Gibb, Buika, Pink Martini, Natalie Cole, Alexander Markov, Alexander Rudin, Chick Corea, Yuri Bashmet, Uto Ughi, Mischa Maisky, Hille Perl, Lee Santana, Rachel Podger, Yo-Yo Ma, Hüseyin Sermet and Itzhak Perlman.
Between 2002 and 2015, as the programmer of the Izmir European Jazz Festival -organized by IKSEV-, the first and only festival building its programme around European jazz in Turkey, Ceyda presented musicians such as Paolo Fresu, Jacky Terrasson, Aydın Esen, Jacques Loussier, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Claudio Fasoli, Louis Sclavis, Urszula Dudziak, Erkan Oğur, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Ulrich Drechsler, Fahir Atakoğlu, Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernandez, Andy Manndorff, ICP Orchestra, Misha Mengelberg, Han Bennink, Tomasz Stanko, Burhan Öçal, Tuluğ Tırpan, Wolfgang Puschnig, Kerem Görsev, Alan Broadbent, Ernie Watts, Yuri Honing, Edmar Castaneda, Marcin Wasilewski, Stefano Battaglia, Benjamin Herman, Dainius Pulauskas, Ondrej Krajnak, Gregory Privat, Timucin Sahin, Loren Stillman, Christopher Tordini, Gene Jackson, Maciej Obara, Tom Arthurs, Erik Truffaz Pascal Schumacher, Francesco Tristano, Mateusz Smoczyński, Michel Wintsch, Bänz Oester and Gerry Hemingway.
In July 2015, she followed her heart and decided to settle in Helsinki and started a new chapter in her life. Ceyda, who has an incurable passion for literature, writes for Andante Magazine, a monthly classical music magazine in Turkey and is an active blogger at the blog spot of the European Festivals Association, festivalbytes.
Ceyda obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at the Faculty of Communication of Ege University, and her Executive Management Diploma at London College of Management; and is currently writing her master thesis at the Sibelius Academy.