Tolga Kashif

Tolga Kashif

Tolga Kashif (Tolga Kaşif) (born 1962) is a Musical Conductor, Composer, Orchestrator, Producer and Arranger.

"Through music I have had the privilege to experience remarkable moments and have seen its capacity not only to please and harmonise, but also to heal."

Quote used courtesy of Future Talent and Tolga Kashif

Early life

Turkish-Cypriot Tolga Kashif was born in London. Before going on to further education, Kashif went to Forest School. His compositional and conducting studies at the Royal College of Music led him subsequently to Bristol University with Derek Bourgeois. He had his professional début with the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, resulting in further collaborations with the City of London Sinfonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Northern Sinfonia and the Wren Orchestra. He has been the Music Director of the London Amadeus Choir, which is thought to have influenced the choral elements of Queen Symphony. In 1992 he became the Associate Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has enjoyed many successful orchestral concerts, particularly at the Barbican Arts Centre (formerly Barbican Hall).

Kashif's work overseas has also been highly reputable. He has conducted the Polish National Symphony and the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1989, he worked with the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra abroad in a series of successful concerts held as part of the Istanbul International Festival of the same year. In 1991 he was assigned the position of Permanent Guest Conductor of the Presidential Symphony Orchestra.

The Music Sculptors

As of 1989, Kashif's role as a creative partner in "The Music Sculptors" - one of the principal companies specialising in sound-to-picture - saw him combining his roles as Composer, Conductor and Producer. He worked with some more highly regarded ensembles, including the BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony and the English Chamber Orchestra. Through this programme, he composed the soundtrack for Silver Fox Films' children's animation First Snow of Winter (1999), which won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award, a Royal Television Award and a Prix Jeunesse. Following the film's success, Kashif wrote the music to the sequel: The Second Star to the Left (2001). He also wrote the soundtrack for Where the Heart Is (1997 TV series), Q.E.D. (TV series) and the BBC's series of documentaries concerning the Gulf War: Fighting the War. Kashif musically directed the BBC Children in Need's Platinum-selling single, Perfect Day (1997). Not only did it win many accolades and media awards, but it grossed £2,125,000 for Children in Need. From 2000 to the present, he has worked with music engineer Steven Price on various advertising campaigns for Blockbuster (movie rental store), Vodafone, Nokia, Marmite and Zurich Insurance, to name a few.

Musical Collaborations

Kashif co-wrote the original score for the feature film, The Criminal (2000), with Mark Sayer-Wade. He conducted the world premiere of his composition, The Garden of the Prophet (2000) with the English Chamber Orchestra at the Barbican Arts Centre. In 2004 he both produced and arranged Choreography (Vanessa-Mae album) for Sony Classical Records and Maksim Mrvica's Variations Part I&II for EMI. In the same year, he conducted the ECO in Roland Chadwick's The Revealing. Kashif worked with the London Metropolitan Orchestra when recording 3 tracks for Amy Nuttall in her crossover album for EMI Classics: Best Days (2005). He used 33 strings (music), flutes, oboes, horns, trumpets and trombones for the songs, and they were recorded by engineer Geoff Foster at AIR Lyndhurst Hall. Kashif has recently worked closely with Lesley Garrett. In an interview, she claimed they go back a long way and that he has a real understanding of her sound. For her cassette, The Singer (2002), he was the conductor. He then orchestrated all of the songs in her album, When I Fall In Love (2007). This ballad collection reached no 11 in the UK Album Chart.

Kashif was also invited by the famous Korean Rock Icon, Seo Taiji, to collaborate and combine Seo Taiji's past music and extraordinary hits, with Kashif's noteworthy orchestral composition and respected talent. The two will present their works at "The Great Seo Taiji Symphony" Concert being held in Seoul, South Korea at the World Cup Stadium on September 28, 2008. Many Korean critics expect this collaboration to be "one of the most interesting projects done in Korea, yet."

National Foundation for Youth Music

In March 2002, Kashif received a commission from the NFYM to write a song for youth: Drop In the Ocean, with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe. The composer went on record explaining his inspiration behind the music.

"The well known phrase 'a drop in the ocean' to me represents a universal choice for humanity; either to view ourselves as separate and insignificant or each of us as a unique part of the whole, the 'ocean' of consciousness. I think it is important for children to understand that however small we may feel at times, we all have a crucial part to play both now and in the future. May we never lose the child in us."

Quote used courtesy of Youth Music and Tolga Kashif

The song was recorded by the New London Children's Choir at Abbey Road Studios. It was premiered at the Royal Festival Hall, and was so successful that it received a further performance at the Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey in the presence of Her Majesty Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Its subsequent CD and Education Pack was mailed to every school in the country.

Future Talent

Along with his good friend Lesley Garrett, Kashif patronises the registered charity, Future Talent. This organisation strives for the high prioritisation of music in Primary schools across the UK - they "nurture the musical talent of the future". On their website, Kashif explains why he is a proud sponsor.

"As a child I was fortunate enough to benefit from encouragement and teaching from a wide range of sources. Through music I have had the privilege to experience remarkable moments and have seen its capacity not only to please and harmonise, but also to heal. I have great pleasure in serving Future Talent".

Quote used courtesy of Future Talent

Queen Symphony

Background and Performances

Kashif spent two years composing the Queen Symphony. He conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in its debut on Wednesday 6th November 2002. It was performed in the Royal Festival Hall and broadcast on ABC TV to a wide European audience. That night, it received a standing ovation from over two thousand people. This concert was attended by Jer Bulsara - Mercury's mother - drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May. They "very much enjoyed it" and they said it was "very moving indeed". Queen Symphony was nominated Album of the Year in the 2003 Classical Brit Awards. In 2003 Kashif directed the Northern Sinfonia in UK tours with Lesley Garrett. He conducted the Turkish premiere of Queen Symphony at the International Izmir Festival. He also directed the piece in Australia in two sold-out performances at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. These was broadcast on ABC Classic FM.

The Music Itself

In 1974, Freddie Mercury said how he would "like people to put their own interpretation" on his own songs, and Kashif did just that. It is a work comprising of six movements - Adagio Misterioso, Allegretto, Adagio, Allegro Vivo, Andante Doloroso and Andante Sostenuto. It is based on around a dozen well-known melodies from the rock band Queen. These include Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions and Who Wants to Live Forever, the latter includes a performance by Nicola Loud. Some critics have related the overall effect to the work of John Williams, notably his Star Wars music. Others have considered the choral elements of the Queen Symphony to be a nod to the rock band's own lavish tendencies, in addition to Kashif's spell as musical director of the London Amadeus Choir. The piece has been performed regularly and in 2004 received US and Dutch premieres.


  1. Q.E.D. (TV series) (CBS, 1982);
  2. Where the Heart Is (1997 ITV series);
  3. First Snow of Winter (Silver Fox Films, 1999);
  4. The Second Star to the Left (Silver Fox Films, 2001);
  5. Fighting the War (BBC 2, 2003)

Musical Scores

  • The Criminal (Paramount Home Entertainment UK, 2000)


  1. R. Strauss - Don Juan, Tod und Verklärung; Horn Concerto no 1 (conductor, artist: Frank Lloyd (horn player), ASV Records, 1997);
  2. The Singer (conductor, artist: Lesley Garrett, EMI Classics, 2002);
  3. Queen Symphony (conductor and composer, performed by London Voices, London Oratory School Choir, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, EMI Classics, 2002);
  4. The Revealing (conductor, artist and composer: Roland Chadwick, performed by English Chamber Orchestra, New Classical, 2004);
  5. Choreography (producer and arranger, artist: Vanessa-Mae, Sony Classical Records, 2004);
  6. Variations (producer and arranger, artist: Maksim Mrvica, EMI, 2004);
  7. Best Days (conductor, artist: Amy Nuttall, performed by London Metropolitan Orchestra, EMI Classics, 2005)



  3. Biography of Tolga Kashif
  4. Steven Price CV
  5. Biography of Tolga Kashif
  6. Queen Fan Club in Germany
  7. Interview with Tolga Kashif about Queen Symphony
  8. Interview with Lesley Garrett
  9. PDF Biography of Tolga Kashif

External links

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