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The 46th Istanbul Music Festival

February 19, 2018 Events / Whats On No Comments Email Email

Istanbul Music Festival, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) under the sponsorship of E.C.A. Presdöküm Sanayii A.Ş., will be held from 23 May to 12 June 2018. The festival, which celebrates its 46th edition together with the performers on the stage, listeners in their seats, and its supporters behind-the-scenes, presents a programme built around this year’s theme “Family Bonds”.

The 46th Istanbul Music Festival’s programme was announced at a press meeting on Thursday, 15 February at Yapı Kredi Culture Centre – Lodge. The speakers at the meeting comprised Chairman of İKSV Bülent Eczacıbaşı, Chairwoman of the Executive Board of the Elginkan Community and Chairwoman of E.C.A. Presdöküm Sanayii A.Ş. Gaye Akçen, and Director of the Istanbul Music Festival and Deputy Director General of İKSV Yeşim Gürer Oymak.

In his speech at the press meeting, Chairman of İKSV Bülent Eczacıbaşı said: “For 46 years, the Istanbul Music Festival has not only enriched Istanbul’s cultural and art life, it has also created and maintained an important international platform for both musicians and the public. As in previous years, the programme of the 46th Istanbul Music Festival promises outstanding soloists and preeminent orchestras, national and international premieres, thought-provoking and inspiring interdisciplinary talks, and a variety of free concerts for audiences of every age. Additionally, İKSV is continuing its efforts to make the festival more accessible to young people and children, because we truly believe that these efforts will have a positive and important influence on both classical music and our country’s future. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to every musician taking part in this year’s festival, to the festival public who looks forward every year to the month of June and start of the festival, to this year’s Festival Sponsor E.C.A. Presdöküm Sanayii, and to all the other institutions and organisations that are contributing to the realisation of the 46th Istanbul Music Festival.”

In her speech, Chairwoman of the Executive Board of the Elginkan Community and Chairwoman of E.C.A. Presdöküm Sanayii A.Ş. Gaye Akçen said: “As the Elginkan Community, we are a family that tremendously value culture, the arts, education and science in addition to our areas of business. Our collaboration with the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts has started in 1988 and continued to grow with mutual feelings of friendship until today. Through the course of our collaboration, we hosted many remarkable artists and brought together important names and ensembles such as Suna Kan, İdil Biret, Halit Turgay and Fazıl Say with art lovers in Istanbul. Our common goal with İKSV is to consider music in its multiple aspects and to unite the future of our country, the youth, and music lovers through an understanding of music, which forms family bonds between them. Thanks to the theme of our festival this year, ‘Family Bonds’, we will feel the unifying power of music in our hearts and behold a unique musical feast. We hope to strengthen the family bonds between those whose souls flow with music.”

Delivering the details of the festival’s programme and theme, Director of the Istanbul Music Festival and Deputy Director General of İKSV Yeşim Gürer Oymak said: “This year, Istanbul Music Festival is shaped around the theme ‘Family Bonds’ and welcomes many musician families within the scope of its rich programme: Mischa Maisky and his children Lily and Sascha; Ferhan and Ferzan Önder; Güher and Süher Pekinel; Lauma and Baiba Skride as the sibling members of Skride Quartet; Kudsi Erguner and his son; Akatay family; Diana Damrau and her partner Nicholas Teste; Hakan Güngör and her partner Meral Azizoğlu. And of course, members of the families that the festival hosted in the previous years, such as the Capuçon, Onay, Bunuatishvili and Hagen families, will also join us. This year we are getting ready to present series of concerts in which we will underline Istanbul’s cultural heritage. Venues like the Hagia Eirene Museum, Grand Bazaar, Sirkeci Terminal Station, Rahmi Koç Museum, synagogues and churches will host many concerts, which will also put an emphasis on the multiculturalism of Istanbul.”

This year’s festival theme: “Family Bonds”

Bringing generations of music lovers together for the past 45 years, the Istanbul Music Festival, is built around the theme, “Family Bonds” in its 46th edition. A great big family itself with artists, audiences, supporters, and employees, the festival, invites everyone to trail the music among families, to remember their own musical experiences, and to explore new ones. This year’s programme features numerous musician families, including Mischa Maisky together with his children Lily and Sascha, the Diana Damrau and Nicolas Testé couple, the twins Güher and Süher Pekinel, and Baiba and Lauma Skride sisters, just to name a few.

The festival will reach out to a wider public with its social media campaign where people will share their childhood photos of making music with the hashtag #familybonds.

Winner of the Van Cliburn Competition to open the festival

As is the tradition for the last 14 years, the 46th Istanbul Music Festival opens with the the festival’s Resident Orchestra, Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of its music director Sascha Goetzel and a young soloist. This year’s young soloist will be the first South Korean winner of the 2017 XV. Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Yekwon Sunwoo, who will make his Turkey debut. Hailed for his total command over the piano and its expressiveness, Sunwoo is the recipient of the Van Cliburn Gold Medal, along with other awards he has won in recent years. The opening ceremony and concert of the 46th Istanbul Music Festival will take place at Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Centre on the evening of 23 May.

The festival’s Honorary Award goes to opera director Prof. Yekta Kara

The 46th Istanbul Music Festival’s Honorary Award will be presented to the opera director Prof. Yekta Kara. Starting the piano at the Istanbul Municipality Conservatory, she studied at the Deutsche Schule Istanbul and then entered the Opera Department at the Munich State Music Academy. She studied opera direction with Prof. Günther Rennert for five years and graduated from both the Munich State Music Academy and the Theater Department of Istanbul Municipality Conservatory.

Kara worked as a soloist and dramaturgist in the Ankara State Opera and Ballet between 1978 and 1980 when she directed stages for the first time. Since 1980, Kara has served as a soloist, stage manager, general director and chief dramaturgy in the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet for 35 years.  She was the Head Opera Director of the General Directorate of the State Opera and Ballet between 1992 and 2000 and the Artistic Director of the International Istanbul Opera Festival between 2010 and 2015.

In addition to her career in Turkey, she has also worked as a guest director in Germany, France, Austria, the United States, Mexico, South Korea, and Bulgaria. Her opera productions were further staged in Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Russia, and China. She has also been teaching at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University State Conservatory since 1983. Yekta Kara will be presented the Honorary Award at the opening ceremony of the festival.

Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Mischa Maisky

The Lifetime Achievement Award of the 46th Istanbul Music Festival will be presented to Mischa Maisky, who has performed with nearly all the leading orchestras and legendary figures of the world and who has become a legend himself. Mischa Maisky made his festival debut in 1987 and returned in 1996 and 2007 for much acclaimed performances. This time the festival hosts him on his Jubilee Tour with two very special concerts. The first concert will be with the eminent Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra at the Hagia Eirene Museum on 2 June. The second concert entitled Maisky Intersections will feature Mischa Maisky with his children Lily and Sascha Maisky, also joined by Maxim Rysanov, at the Süreyya Opera House on 4 June.

Filarmonica della Scala returns to the festival after 9 years

One of the world’s leading orchestras, Filarmonica della Scala will be at the festival with conductor Daniel Harding and pianist Daniil Trifonov.

Founded in 1982, Filarmonica della Scala has performed more than 600 concerts at all the prestigious halls of the world. The orchestra has collaborated with distinguished conductors such as Georges Prêtre, Lorin Maazel, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Daniel Barenboim, and Valery Gergiev. The Filarmonica della Scala hosts the Concerto per Milano, attended by an audience of 40.000 every year. Filarmonica della Scala, who visited the Istanbul Music Festival with Daniel Barenboim in 2009 will meet with the Istanbul audience again at  Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Centre on 27 May. The orchestra will perform under the baton of Daniel Harding and one of the most remarkable young pianists of today, Daniil Trifonov. The concert will be realised with the contribution of Yapı Kredi and the performance sponsors Bell Group of Companies and Organik Group.

The 2017 ECHO Klassik Award recipient “In War & Peace” will be at the festival

The inspiring project of mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and Il Pomo d’Oro, In War & Peace will meet the audience for the first time in Turkey.

The extraordinary mezzosoprano Joyce DiDonato and Il Pomo d’Oro created this unique project in which they express the conflicts, wars and peace in our inner and outer world through music with their belief that the power we need to get absolute peace lies within each other. The project which will get a new meaning at the Hagia Eirene Museum which has witnessed many civilizations in war and peace through its 1500 years of history, also has an album with the same title which has won the 2017 ECHO Klassik Award. Two-time Grammy winner Joyce DiDonato, who is also at the height of the music world with her artistic advocacy, created the project with the principle that peace can be reached through the music.

In War & Peace will meet the audience at the Hagia Eirene Museum on Friday, 1 June at a special concert sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Türk A.Ş.  Prior to the concert, Music for Peace Choir will meet with the audience.

Festival’s special production “On the Road”

The festival will present the world premiere of a multidisciplinary project that combines Gülsin Onay‘s passionate piano with Murathan Özbek‘s sensitive camera. The specially prepared repertoire including Beethoven’s Les Adieux, Schubert and Liszt’s Auf dem Wasser zu singen, Ravel’s Ondine will be accompanied by the images Murathan Özbek‘s camera that evoke the feeling of going away and will turn into a special musical feast with Gülsin Onay’s interpretations. A co-production of the Istanbul Music Festival and the Bodrum Music Festival, On the Road will be on 11 June at the Süreyya Opera House under the sponsorship of Nobel İlaç.

Festival continues to contribute to artistic production with special commissions

Istanbul Music Festival has been commissioning local and international composers since 2011 with a view to enriching the contemporary music repertoire and supporting artistic production. This year’s co-commission (together with Amsterdam Sinfonietta / Muzıekgebouw Aan ‘t Ij, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra De Picardie – Région Hauts-de-France, BBC Concert Orchestra) to Dobrinka Tabakova, “Together Remember to Dance” received standing ovations in its world premiere in Amsterdam on 16 November 2017. The Turkey premiere will be with the Netherlands’ only professional string orchestra Amsterdam Sinfonietta and Ferhan & Ferzan Önder at Hagia Eirene Museum on 5 June with the attendance of its composer.

Amsterdam Sinfonietta, known for its innovative and interdisciplinary collaborations along with its deep-rooted German music tradition, is one of the few orchestras without a conductor.

Festival continues to discover future musicians with the “Women Stars of Tomorrow:
Young Women Musicians Support Fund”

The festival, which has been reaching out to young musicians with its project “Festival Presents Its Young Soloist” since 2012, makes a further move in its 46th edition and initiates a new project to support the next generation of women musicians. Women Stars of Tomorrow: Young Women Musicians Support Fund is launched in collaboration with TSKB (Industrial Development Bank of Turkey) and the contribution of the audiences to advance the international career of gifted musicians inthe branches of instrument, singing, and conducting.

The project is open to young women musicians from Turkey who seek for financial support to study abroad or for various activities to further their careers. The selection committee, presided by the Istanbul Music Festival Director and Deputy Director General of İKSV, musicologist Yeşim Gürer Oymak comprises violinist and conductor Hakan Şensoy, pianist Muhiddin Dürrüoğlu, clarinetist Ayşegül Kirmanoğlu, and composer Özkan Manav.

The young women musicians selected for support will then make their appearance at a concert on 28 May at Boğaziçi University Albert Long Hall, where they will share the stage with Turkey’s perhaps the best-known “child prodigy” İdil Biret. At the Pre-Concert Talk moderated by author Yekta Kopan, Canan Dağdeviren, the first scientist from Turkey who is at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was selected as a Junior Fellow to Harvard University, and İnci Kadribegiç, a student at the Trakya Medical School and stem cell researcher will tell their personal success stories.

Applications for the support fund can be made from 15 February to 22 March at For more information on Young Women Musicians Support Fund:

Festival salutes Istanbul

The festival salutes Istanbul – the capital of three empires where many cultures have intertwined throughout history – with special concerts at the Grand Bazaar and Sirkeci Terminal, as well the Music Route that is headed to the city’s oldest neighbourhoods Galata and Karaköy.

Melodies of Istanbul at the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar, which hosted the Istanbul Music Festival for the first time last year, will this year reverberate with some of the best examples of Turkish music, Hebrew lullabys, Syriac hymns, Sephardic songs, and folk music from Macedonia, Greece, and Armenia. This project by the qanun virtuoso Hakan Güngör, brings together a number of musician families, including the UNESCO Peace Ambassador, ney master Kudsi Erguner and his son Selman Erguner, Ferran Savall, the son of the great viola da gamba virtuoso Jordi Savall, uncle Memduh Akatay and his niece Mehmet Akatay. The internationally acclaimed oud virtuoso Yurdal Tokcan, who developed his original technique where he combines the Istanbulian oud tradition with the melodies of the present day, and the winner of 2014 Donizetti Music Awards in The Best String Player of the Year Çağ Erçağ  are among the soloists of this concert, which will also feature prominent musicians of international standing in the specially tailored Melodies of Istanbul Orchestra. Music lovers will meet at the Grand Bazaar on Sunday, 3 June for the Melodies of Istanbul concert, sponsored by ECA – Serel.

Time travel to the 1900’s Istanbul at the Sirkeci Terminal

The concert at the Sirkeci Terminal, entitled Songs of Istanbul will take the audience back to the old Istanbul in the first half of the 1900’s. Here, singer Meral Azizoğlu, will be accompanied by the Hungarian Gypsy Fire Ensemble. Music lovers will experience an unforgettable Istanbul evening on 6 June at Sirkeci Terminal, which will host the festival for the first time.

Music Route is headed to Galata and Karaköy

The Music Route, which will be organised for the third time in the festival, will take listeners on a musical journey where one can explore the hidden beauties of Istanbul in Galata and Karaköy. The Music Route’s stops this year are the Italian Synagogue, St. Georg Church, St. Peter and Paul Church, and Ashkenaz Synagogue where each concert will offer repertoires specially chosen to suit the spirit of the venue. Sponsored by bluechip Creative Events, the Music Route will take place on Sunday, 10 June accompanied by professional guides giving information about the route’s past and present.

A new addition to the free festival events: Children Workshops

The festival will organise a special workshop programme for children with the cooperation of Pera Museum’s education department for the first time this year. The eight workshops will offer a holistic artistic experience to children of 4-6 and 7-12 years old. Workshops will be held on 26-27 May and 2-3 June at the Pera Museum, where children will experience the music by personally making it, inspired by Osman Hamdi Bey’s painting Two Musician Girls, and Franz Hermann, Hans Gemminger and Valentin Mueller’s joint work A Scene from the Turkish Harem from the Orientalist Painting Collection. Two of the 7-12 year old workshops will be held with the participation of grandparents. The free of charge workshops are limited to 15 people in each session and reservation is required:

Festival’s “Weekend Classics” concerts continue

The free festival events that have already become a tradition where Istanbulites start the weekend with classical music, the Weekend Classics concerts will be held at Babylon, bomontiada and the Garden of Austrian Culture Forum this year. In the first concert of the Weekend Classics series on Saturday, 26 May  at Babylon, mezzosoprano Senem Demircioğlu and pianist İklim Tamkan will perform the works of the remarkable composers of the 17th and 18th centuries as well as Turkish folk songs. Known for their album İlk Atlas, produced by Fazıl Say, the Demircioğlu & Tamkan duo has a wide repertoire ranging from jazz to classical music. At the Weekend Classics – II concert in bomontiada on Saturday, 2 June, the Anatolian Wind Quintet will interpret the Anatolian folk songs with a new understanding by bringing traditional melodies together with modern western instruments. Babylon and bomontiada concerts will be realised with the contributions of Pozitif.  The third of the Weekend Classics concerts will host Koehne Quartet at the Garden of Austrian Culture Forum on the last Saturday of the festival, 9 June. One of Europe’s leading contemporary music representatives, Koehne Quartet offers original interpretations from the classical period to the 21st century repertoire.

Piano duo Güher & Süher Pekinel and the English Chamber Orchestra to close the festival

Güher & Süher Pekinel, who has made many successful concert and album collaborations with the English Chamber Orchestra, will get together with the orchestra again for the closing concert of the festival on 12 June at the Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Centre with the support of Türkiye İş Bankası.

The twin sisters Güher and Süher Pekinel, who gave their first concert at the age of six as a piano duo, garner praise all over the world for their extraordinarily poetical interpretations and impeccable technique. The Pekinels have performed with such world-renowned orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. The English Chamber Orchestra is the most recorded chamber orchestra in the world and has also performed in more countries than any other orchestra. Since their first patron Benjamin Britten, the orchestra has worked with many legendary conductors and soloists. The orchestra has also recorded many film scores, including some of the James Bond films and the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice.

Conducted by Gerard Schwarz, the concert will be a magnificent closing to the 46th Istanbul Music Festival.

Festival tickets go on sale on Saturday, 24 February

Tickets for the 46th Istanbul Music Festival will be on sale as of 10:30 on Saturday, 24 February and can be purchased through Biletix retail outlets, Biletix Call Centre (+90 216 556 98 00), Biletix web site ( and İKSV’s Main Box Office (The main box office is open between 10:00 – 18:00 and is closed on Sundays, except for 25 February.)

Tulip Card holders have special discounts of up to 25% and can also purchase priority tickets. Black and White Tulip members can purchase their tickets on 19 and 20 February, while Red and Yellow Tulip members can purchase their tickets on 21–22-23 February.

Conservatory students from music and opera departments attend festival concerts free-of-charge

Students of the music and opera departments of conservatories attend the Istanbul Music Festival concerts free-of-charge. Students will need to receive reservation approval by sending an e-mail to, including their name and student certificates one day prior to the concert that they would like to attend. Reservations will be approved on the basis of available capacity.

The 46th Istanbul Music Festival programme booklet is available on, at İKSV Kitaplık application, İKSV Box Office (Nejat Eczacıbaşı Building, Sadi Konuralp Caddesi No: 5, Şişhane) and Biletix retail outlets.

Supporters of the 46th Istanbul Music Festival

The 46th Istanbul Music Festival is organised with the support of several performance sponsors, in addition to Festival Sponsor E.C.A. Presdöküm Sanayii A.Ş.

Performance sponsors include Borusan Holding, Yapı Kredi, Mercedes-Benz Türk AŞ, Tekfen Foundation, Türkiye İş Bankası, Bell Group of Companies, Organik Group, TSKB (Industrial Development Bank of Turkey), ECA-SEREL, Nobel İlaç, Işıklar Holding, bluechip Creative Events, Berrin Erengül, Eva Barlas,  Elvan Tuğsuz Güven and Pozitif. Additionally, Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra (BIFO) is the of the festival’s Orchestra in Residence sponsor.

The 46th Istanbul Music Festival is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Governorship of Istanbul, the Istanbul Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the Beyoğlu District Governorship, Beşiktaş Municipality, Beyoğlu Municipality, and Kadıköy Municipality.

The festival takes place with the kind collaborations of Austrian Culture Forum, Consulate General of Israel, Babylon, Boğaziçi University, bomontiada, St. Peter and Paul Church, Fatih Municipality, Goethe Institut, Consulate General of Netherlands, İş Sanat, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Italian Jewish Community, Grand Bazaar, Hungarian Cultural Centre, Neve Shalom Sephardi Synagogues Foundation, Österreichische St.Georgs-Gemeinde İstanbul, Pera Museum, Rahmi M. Koç Museum, Süreyya Opera House, and Yüksekkaldırım Ashkenazi Synagogues Foundation.

The Leading Sponsor of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts is Eczacıbaşı Group, the Official Communications Sponsor is Vodafone Turkey, the Official Carrier is DHL, the Official Hotel Sponsor is The Marmara Collection, the Insurance Sponsor is Zurich Insurance Group, the Service Sponsors are Navitas, GFK, Antonina Tourism and AGC.

The publicity campaign for the 46th Istanbul Music Festival was created by muhabbet.

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