Newell Scholar’s research synthesizes music and history

Produced by University Communications

By recent GCSU alumnus Cale Strickland, '24

D r. Evren Kutlay, this semester’s Martha Daniel Newell Visiting Scholar, has always been fascinated by the intersection of music and history.

As a child, she would listen to her neighbor, a professor and piano teacher, play for hours. Inspired and encouraged, Kutlay auditioned at a local conservatory but was told she was “too old” to learn piano. She proved otherwise, as, under the guidance of her neighbor, she finished three years’ worth of lessons in one year.

She went on to pursue her other academic interests, including mathematics, and eventually left Turkey to start her MBA at the University of West Georgia on a full scholarship. Kutlay’s Ph.D. combined her love of music and knowledge of business, analyzing the relationship between the art form and consumer behavior.

Today, she’s performed across Europe and the United States and contributed to various Turkish media outlets, including a plethora of music journals, the national newspaper “Star” and the public broadcast channel TRT.  

A professor and lifelong learner, she uses an interdisciplinary approach to fill in the gaps between Eastern and Western music she found in academic literature years ago.

“You may ask, ‘How is it related to math?’ My systematic approach to things, which I think I inherited from my problem-solving abilities, is something that I learned from studying math,” Kutlay said. “So, those are the things that I’m combining and working on and bringing as a new output, a niche that didn’t exist in academic literature, let’s say, at Georgia College.”

She encourages Georgia College students to follow their passions and dreams, ask questions and take opportunities as they come.

You should pursue your passions, dreams, and you should expand your horizons.
– Dr. Evren Kutlay

“Nothing was planned,” Kutlay said. “So, that’s what I would say to Georgia College students. You should pursue your passions, dreams, and you should expand your horizons. Explore things and ask questions about them and see that nothing is separate.”

She performed a series of pieces, focused on music’s effects on diplomacy, and featured Georgia College students, in Max Noah Recital Hall April 4.  

And on April 12, at Allied Arts of Milledgeville, she discussed the influence of Western musicians who visited and spent time in Turkey, particularly Istanbul, on the region and its music.  

She credits her success to her lifelong passion for, and curiosity about, music.

“I was curious,” Kutlay said. “I loved listening and just watching and listening and so on, and I had that passion in me, somehow.” 

View this story in the spring 2024 edition of the A&S Newsletter.