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5 minutes with conductor Nisan Ak

Nisan Ak is pursuing a doctorate degree in orchestral conducting at the University of South Carolina.
Nisan Ak is pursuing a doctorate degree in orchestral conducting at the University of South Carolina. Submitted

Nisan Ak is instrumental in keeping classical music alive in Columbia. She’s a conductor from Istanbul and has traveled the world with her efforts. Prepare to be cultured and captivated.

Q. For the people that don’t know you, tell us more about who you are.

A. I’m a doctorate student at the University of South Carolina studying orchestral conducting. For the past three years I have been organizing and conducting chamber orchestra concerts in Columbia. Our last concert with the Bruch Chamber Orchestra was filmed and produced by SGTV. After a handful of carefully planned concerts, I now have a small community that attends all of my shows in Columbia, which I’m very proud of.

Q. How did you get involved with classical music?

A. I’m from Turkey and I moved to the States about five years ago to peruse a Master’s degree in conducting at the City University of New York. There, I used crowdfunding to fund my first year of studies and got a full scholarship from CUNY the second year. After seeing my campaign online, CUNY was very interested in promoting me and made me the face of their advertising for a year. I was promoted on several newspapers including New York Times and New York Post, on Pepsi tucks and in New York’s subway ads. I got invited to study at UofSC in 2016. I’m trying to make the orchestra that I’m working with a professional and paid orchestra, but that’s a long-term project. Additionally, I’m the assistant conductor of Aiken Symphony Orchestra and the Music Director of Oratorio Society of Richmond, Va.

Q. What’s coming up next for you?

A. Bruch Chamber Orchestra of Cola will perform a free concert at 6 p.m. April 10. Miguel Hijar will play a Mozart Flute Concerto in D after Schubert’s Fifth Symphony. This will be a different concert for us in terms of timing and location. Most concerts were on Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. at the Darla Moore concert hall. But that didn’t allow most School of Music students

This performance also will be different musically. Most of the previous concerts were done with 45-50 players in the orchestra. But because of the small stage, this will be done with about 25 musicians. Therefore the repertoire will be on the more classical side instead of romantic era. This will require more perfection and more detailed nuances.