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Juneyt Plays in a Space That Feels Like Home
On a grey-sky weekday afternoon, Juneyt Yetkiner plays flamenco guitar for an attentive audience at Central Library.
"I love playing here. It's one of the most intimate concerts," he says. "I saw a woman in the audience crying. Obviously we're connecting; it's like you're one-on-one with people."
Music in the Lounge features free, live performances by talented musicians, and all ages are welcome to attend. Guest performers have included Jesse Parent, Lynn Jackson, JoJo Worthington, Amy & Dominic Dinino, and Traces Steel Drum Band.
After Juneyt's performance, he packs up his gear and heads downstairs to chat with a group of newcomers who are attending an English Conversation Circle about his own experiences as a newcomer to Canada.
He arrived in Kitchener from Turkey in 1999. Originally, he slept in a shelter, which closed during the day. During that time, and when he later moved into a basement apartment, the library was a light-filled refuge for him.
"I was here daily. Sometimes twice a day. I felt safe here," he says. "Nobody judged you at the public library. Nobody pushed you out."
Juneyt would listen to music (the Gypsy Kings were a favourite) and get lost in books as he prepared to attend post-secondary education.
"I had to improve my English as much as I could. So I read a lot of computer books. And Harry Potter."
Juneyt went on to earn two diplomas in computer programming and applications from Conestoga College, and also attended the University of Waterloo, and worked at RIM, Apple, and in banking.
Now he's a critically acclaimed and award-winning full-time musician. He's worked with famed classical guitarist Liona Boyd, and travelled in Europe, Asia, and North and South America performing
at various festivals.
In 2017 he won Toronto Independent Music awards in the Best Instrumental and Best Classical categories, and is a regular favourite in the Record Reader's Choice Awards. He also regularly volunteers with
local non-profit organizations.
"I love this country so much," he says. "I wish I could do more."
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