Boulder Composer Egemen Kesikli’s Musical Reaction To The Pulse Nightclub Shooting

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Photo: Egemen Kesikli, composer
Composer Egemen Kesikli

It's been a year since the shooting at Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando. 49 people were killed. It left Boulder composer Egemen Kesikli in shock.

"It was horrifying," he says. "The first thing that came to mind was that I was just not safe anywhere.

Kesikli, who is gay, decided to react to the massacre by doing something brave: He came out to his parents while he was staying with them in his native Turkey. It went well. But when he posted about the experience on social media, he received taunts and threats.

As a composer, he turned the whole experience into music.


Kesikli says what struck him about the Pulse shooting, and the events in his own life, was how the trauma seemed to linger. It lurched forward, with its own strange rhythm. So he put that odd pace into his music.

"There's this weird thing that does not go away," he says. "It's that heartache that does not go away, that's just there. And nothing can take that away."

The Playground Ensemble, a Denver group that focuses on music by modern composers, recently featured Kesikli's piece "Pulse" at its annual Colorado Composers Concert.

The musicians also recorded "Pulse" in the CPR Performance Studio. Hear that recording, and more of Kesikli's story, on an upcoming episode of "Centennial Sounds" -- the new podcast from CPR Classical.