The Perfect Name

Ezgi Karakus
Photos and video by Brandon Parigo; interview by Stacy Downs; graphics by Sarah Richardson | Strategic Marketing and Communications

Video and Q&A with cellist who experienced master class with Yo-Yo Ma

Get to know our students, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about

Ezgi Karakus, ’18
Doctor of Musical Arts in Cello Performance
Conservatory of Music and Dance
Hometown: Izmir, Turkey



I love your name. What does it mean?

Ezgi means melody in Turkish. Just the right name for me!



Wow, your name is perfect for you and what you do as a cellist. How did you feel when you learned you were going to get a master class with Yo-Yo Ma, one of the most famous musicians in the world?


I was so shocked, so nervous. I kept asking myself: is this real? He’s a household name. You cannot say no to an opportunity like this. I lost sleep some nights. I couldn’t eat sometimes. I practiced and was very tense. I bought a book on meditating, to calm down and accept everything.



So on the day of the performance, how did you feel?

I still smile thinking about it! I was so excited. I felt like time stopped. It’s just me and him in front of a sold-out crowd of more than a thousand people at Helzberg Hall.

People told me I looked so relaxed. Usually, I am shy talking to people. But I think it was him. He’s just amazing and encourages you on everything. I have selfies with him.

I feel like I am not the same anymore. I love music more. It was a dream. It was magical.


>Read about her master class with Yo-Yo Ma.



>See Ezgi’s performance schedule for upcoming events.


Why the cello?

I always wanted to be a musician. When I was 10 years old, my parents took me to Bremen String Quartet’s performance in Turkey. When I heard the cello sound, I fell in love with it and I wanted to be a cellist. I do not think that I can be anything other than a cellist.

The cello is the best sound ever. It has a soul. It talks to you.



What are the challenges of the Conservatory program?

There are so many challenges to be a musician such as practicing lots of hours in a room by yourself.  Besides the program, we have to collaborate with musicians and be part of different ensembles to get more experience. Sometimes it takes months to prepare for a concert and we have to learn how to be patient and not give up.



What are the benefits?

We, musicians, are doing what we love and that makes us alive to achieve our goals and dreams.


What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

I admire all of my professors since I started cello. I am so lucky that I always worked with amazing teachers. The best advice I got: To be myself and not scared to express my feelings!



What’s your motto?

Stuff happens. Keep going.




What are your lifelong goals?

I love Kansas City. I want to stay here. I play lots of different types of music all over. I teach. I want to do everything I can do as a cellist. I want to collaborate like Yo-Yo Ma.


From across the country and around the world, our students come together in Kansas City to study business, medicine, theatre and more than 100 other academic areas. Roos become leaders in their fields and give back to their communities.

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