Istanbul Music Festival announces 2017 lineup


29 MAY – 21 JUNE 2017

Istanbul Music Festival, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) under the sponsorship of E.C.A. Presdöküm Sanayii A.Ş., celebrates its 45th year. Having presented the best and most recent outputs of classical music to 3,5 million music lovers in Istanbul with 3.000 events in the past 45 years, Istanbul Music Festival will be held under the theme of “Unusual”, from 29 May to 21 June 2017.

In addition to the classical repertoire, the 45th Istanbul Music Festival will present a programme that will give classical music lovers a whole new concert experience with new discoveries, interdisciplinary and multimedia works, and performances that reconnect different periods and genres around this year’s theme, “Unusual”. The festival’s programme was announced at a press meeting on Wednesday, 15 February at The Marmara Pera Hotel, the Official Hotel Sponsor of İKSV.

Delivering the details of the festival’s programme and theme, Istanbul Music Festival Director Yeşim Gürer Oymak said “We have created the festival programme in circumstances more difficult than ever, in an ‘unusual’ period. In times like this, we need the uniting, healing and hope-yielding power of culture and arts. The festival was conceived around the theme of ‘Unusual’. Creative, challenging, intriguing, stimulating, interesting, impressive, multidisciplinary, multifaceted, and pregnant to new experiences… In addition to once in a life time artist collaborations that are exclusive to Istanbul Music Festival, commissions and premieres, preparations and research on projects that allow for interdisciplinary transitions; presenting concerts in venues that speak to the themes of the concerts does not only deepen the festival experience for the audience, but also helps us create a new community of culture and arts followers. 

Diverse Experiences at Unusual Venues

The 45th Istanbul Music Festival will host over 600 local and international artists, including some of the world’s leading ensembles such as Russian Chamber Philarmonic St. Petersburg, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra and Ebene Quartet, remarkable soloists like Hüseyin Sermet, Fazıl Say, Alina Pogostkina and Mathias Goerne, as well as young generation artists at 15 venues in Istanbul.

In its 45th year, the festival will bring a fresh breath to classical music with its creative, evocative, multi-disciplinary and multi-faceted projects on its programme. Concerts that allow interdisciplinary transitions, commissions and premieres will offer unusual experiences to audiences of all ages.

This year, the Istanbul Music Festival stands out with its venue choices that relate with the concert themes. The festival will take place across 15 different venues, 8 of which will be used for the first time.

Some new venues such as the Aya Yorgi Greek Orthodox Church, bomontiada, Garden of Galata Mawlawi House, Grand Bazaar, Küd Dıpo Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Church, Panayia Greek Orthodox Church, Sait Halim Pasha Mansion, Sakıp Sabancı Museum Fıstıklı Terrace and Zorlu PAC Drama Stage will be added to the venues that has become a classic for the festival Hagia Eirene Museum, Boğaziçi University Albert Long Hall, Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Centre, İş Sanat Concert Hall, Süreyya Opera House and Austrian Culture Forum.


Music Route is headed to Yeniköy this year

At its second year, Music Route invites the festival audience to explore the hidden beauties of Yeniköy under the sponsorship of bluechip Creative Events. Music Route, will feature close to 20 artists and will take place in two sessions on Saturday, 3 June, the first weekend of the festival. The event will take the audience on a musical journey through historical venues of Yeniköy: Küd Dipo Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Church, built in 1760 and still active, Sait Halim Pasha Mansion with its elegant 19th century architecture, Aya Yorgi Greek Orthodox Church which has reopened in 2010 after years, Yeniköy Panayia Greek Orthodox Church and Austrian Culture Forum, built in the mid-19th century, are among the venues of this year’s Music Route.


“Eternal Love” at the Grand Bazaar

Istanbul Music Festival invites listeners to enjoy some of the best examples of sufi music that will resonate in the 555-year-old streets of the Grand Bazaar this year. Founded by harpist Şirin Pancaroğlu, and reader and composer Bora Uymaz, the Şimdi Ensemble will present hymn examples from the past and present at the concert titled “Eternal Love”. Sponsored by ECA-Serel, the performance will be held on Kalpakçılar Street in the Grand Bazaar on Sunday, 4 June. The project’s guest artist from France, Michel Godard will be included in the ensemble with serpent, a religious music instrument from the middle ages, and tuba.

A contemporary interpretation of traditional music at Galata Mawlawi House

A tribute to the cultural heritage that dates back many centuries between Iran and the Ottoman Empire, “Rosery” brings a contemporary interpretation to the traditional musical styles that were nourished by the interaction of the two countries. Emphasising the tradition of fasil and presented in the form of a large suite, “Rosery” will rise to the heights of the Garden of Galata Mawlawi House with its historical and spiritual touch under the sponsorship of ECA-Serel on the evening of Friday, 2 June. The performance will present a repertoire consisting of compositions by Kayhan Kalhor, Derya Turkan and Sokratis Sinopoulos.

“Weekend Classics”

The Weekend Classics concerts are free festival events that have already become a tradition where Istanbulite music lovers start the weekend with classical music, accompanied by their family and friends. Classical music lovers of all ages are invited to the free concerts that will be held on weekends at the Garden of Austrian Culture Forum on Sunday, 4 June and bomontiada, which will be used as a festival venue for the first time, on Saturday, 10 June.

At a separate event that will be held free of charge with the support of bomontiada, unusual bassoonist and passionate electro-acoustical composer Burak Özdemir and his ensemble Musica Sequenza will offer a unique musical experience at their concert on the evening of Saturday, 17 June at bomontiada. The ensemble will interpret Handel’s operatic arias in today’s musical forms. Conquering leading festivals and concert halls with the slogan “New pop: Baroque!”, Musica Sequenza is known for using historical instruments in their interdisciplinary performances ranging from older to contemporary music, electro-acoustics, modern dance and experimental music theatre.

Festival’s Commission to Philip Glass:

The Turkey Premiere of the 11th Symphony

Istanbul Music Festival has been giving commissions to local and international composers in order to contribute to the expansion of contemporary music repertoire and artistic production since 2011. This year, the Istanbul Music Festival continued these efforts by taking part in a joint commission to one of the most famous classical music composers alive, Philip Glass. The Turkey premiere of Philip Glass’s latest work, the 11th Symphony, will be held as part of the 45th Istanbul Music Festival under the sponsorship of Borusan Holding at the Hagia Eirene Museum. The symphony will be performed by the festival’s Resident Orchestra Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of conductor Sascha Goetzel on the evening of 16 June.

The 11th Symphony, composed by Philip Glass on the joint commission of the Istanbul Music Festival with the Bruckner-Linz Orchestra and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, made its world premiere at Carnegie Hall on 31 January 2017, celebrating Philip Glass’s 80th birthday.

After the 11th Symphony, another Turkey premiere will take place in the second half of the concert. Norwegian soloist siblings, violinist Mari Samuelsen and cellist Hakon Samuelsen will perform Philip Glass’s Double Concerto for Violin and Cello for the first time in Turkey, accompanied by the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sascha Goetzel.

Glass is considered as one of the most prominent musicians of modern times with the numerous opera, symphony and chamber music he has composed, his musical and intellectual influence and collaborations he has made with many artists, writers, musicians and composers including Allen Ginsberg, Paul Simon, Brian Eno, Patti Smith, Ravi Shankar, David Bryrne and Doris Lessing. The American composer was nominated for the Academy, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Emmy Awards for the film scores he wrote for films such as Truman Show, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal and Kundun. Among the artists he recently collaborated are Woody Allen, Stephen Colbert and Leonard Cohen.

Prior to the concert, Philip Glass will be presented with the 45th Istanbul Music Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony that will take place before the opening concert. Unable to attend the ceremony, Glass will deliver his prize speech with a special video.

The festival’s Honorary Award goes to music critic Evin İlyasoğlu

The 45th Istanbul Music Festival’s Honorary Award will be presented to music critic and lecturer Evin İlyasoğlu at the opening ceremony of the festival. İlyasoğlu started taking piano lessons since she was seven and studied piano at Istanbul Municipal Conservatory. She graduated from Arnavutköy American College for Girls (Robert College) in 1966 and joined the Music Criticism and Comparative Music History seminars at USA Michigan State University. İlyasoğlu, who has prepared and hosted Classic Western Music programmes for the Istanbul Radio and a series of music talks on TRT television for many years, has also got her critics, reviews and interviews published on numerous magazines, newspapers and encyclopaedias. She has given lectures in subjects as broad as Music History, Aesthetic, Music Programming in Radio and Television and Music through Time at Marmara University. She is also a lecturer at Boğaziçi University since 1987 and has been managing the Classical Music Concerts since 1997. İlyasoğlu is writing regularly for Cumhuriyet newspaper since 1991.

A 23-year-old young star to open the Festival

The 45th Istanbul Music Festival will start with the opening ceremony and concert to be held at the Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Centre on the evening of 29 May. The festival’s opening concert will present an extraordinary young soloist. Festival’s Orchestra in Residence Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sascha Goetzel, will be accompanied by Andrei Ioniţă, a 23-year-old young cellist who won the first prize in the cello section of the 2015 Tchaikovsky Competition. Andrei Ioniţă, described by The Times as “one of the most exciting cellists of the last decade”, will play Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1, and BIFO will perform Islamey and Rosenkavalier Suite under the conductorship of Sascha Goetzel.

Two special concerts from Fazıl Say

Fazıl Say, who has impressed the listeners and critics all over the world for more than 25 years and was recently awarded the prestigious Beethoven Prize, will be the 45th Istanbul Music Festival’s guest with two concerts. One of the most important artists of the 21st century, Fazıl Say will meet the festival followers at Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Centre with the preludes of Debussy and Ulvi Cemal Erkin, nocturnes of Chopin and a sonata of Ahmed Adnan Saygun on the evening of 15 June.

Say will also be closing the festival on 21 June at Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Centre accompanied by the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. At the concert sponsored by ECA-Serel, Say will play Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 and Vienna Chamber Orchestra will play works by Beethoven and Mendelssohn, under the conductorship of Ola Rudner. Music for Peace Orchestra will give a mini-concert to be conducted by Sascha Goetzel before the Vienna Chamber Orchestra concert with Fazıl Say.

The festival presents its young soloist

With the aims of discovering and encouraging young talents from across the country, the Istanbul Music Festival, brings the most outstanding young musicians together with the festival audience with its The Festival Presents its Young Soloist project since 2012.

Within the scope of the project, a viola soloist under the age 24, to be determined by a jury following nation-wide auditions that will take place on 29 March, will earn the opportunity to give a concert with Dokuz Eylül University Symphony Orchestra (DESO) under the conductorship of Hakan Şensoy on the evening of Saturday, 17 June at Süreyya Opera House.

A Selection from the festival’s “Unusual” Concerts

The concerts in the 45th Istanbul Music Festival programme, which aim to offer new experiences with unusual projects combining classical music with different disciplines as well as classical repertoire, will appeal to the audience of any age and preference.

You’re invited to see the music and hear the picture

The concert titled “The Sound of Colours: Kandinsky & Chagall” invites the festival audience to see the music and hear the picture. This concert, in which the lines move and the notes wrap themselves up in colours, will be realised on 31 May at the İş Sanat Concert Hall sponsored by TSKB. Mikhail Rudy, one of the world’s greatest 20 pianists according to BBC Music magazine, will use a new video application to revive Mussorgksy’s Pictures at an Exhibition, which Kandinsky put on stage in 1928 with a composition of colour, light, geometric shapes and plastic materials. This project, of which More than the Music commented: “Kandinsky’s paintings quite literally soared (on a large screen) above the stage”, will be followed by Rudy’s another project called The Sound of Colours in which he will present a visual and auditory feast with an animation of Garnier Opera’s ceiling painting sketches made by Chagall.

An interdisciplinary project dedicated to the music of Vivaldi

Soqquadro Italiano, one of the most original and successful musical ensembles of our days, will be at Zorlu Performing Arts Centre Drama Stage under the sponsorship of Bell Holding and Organik Holding on 5 June with La Stravaganza, their new project dedicated to Vivaldi’s music, accompanied by visuals from Venice to Rome and from Naples to Milan. Many adaptations of Vivaldi’s music, ranging from jazz, electronic, pop and metal music will be accompanied by images, dance and theatrical elements that travel across Italy in Soqquadro Italiano’s concert where Prato City Chamber Orchestra will also be at stage while attracting attention with the breadth of their vocal repertoire.

A groundbreaking concert from Classic to Jazz

Geneva Camerata (GECA), composed of young virtuoso musicians who got together with the love of discovering musical borders and conductor David Greilsammer, join forces with the innovative and adventurous pianist Yaron Herman at the concert titled “From Mozart to Ellington”. With its music ranging from baroque to classical period, from contemporary music to jazz; “From Mozart to Ellington” will be at the Hagia Eirene Museum on 12 June. “Building bridges between musical styles!” is the starting point of this project that is set by Geneva Camerata and Yaron Herman, who is the jury president of the 2012 Montreux Jazz Festival and the councellor of the 2014 Montreux Jazz Academy.

Circus Show unites with Shostakovich’s music

Another extraordinary experience from the festival which brings the circus show and Shostakovich together. For the Opus 2 project, Debussy Quartet, set off with the passion for creating its own voice by avoiding ordinariness, comes together with Circa Ensemble who looks at the circus art from a different viewpoint on 20 June at Zorlu Performing Arts Centre Drama Stage under the sponsorship of ENKA Foundation. The choreography made by Yaron the direction of Shostakovich’s dramatic, lyrical and ironic music instead of the usual circus music of acrobats doing handstand, swinging on the trapeze, flying in the air and jumping from one side of the stage to the other, removes the borders between dance, theatre and circus.

Pre-concert talks with speakers from various disciplines

Speakers from different disciplines such as literature, painting, philosophy and science continue to meet with the audience before the concerts within the scope of the festival. This year’s programme of Pre-concert Talks, which includes names such as Hülya Düzenli, Mert Taner, Prof. Dr. Cem Say, Enis Batur, Nilüfer Kuyaş, Aydın Büke, Ercüment Cengiz, Tuna Kiremitçi, Küçük İskender and Aykut Köksal was formed with Asuman Kafaoğlu-Büke’s counselling. Detailed information regarding the Pre-concert Talks can be found at

Festival tickets go on sale on Saturday, 25 February

Tickets for the 45th Istanbul Music Festival will be on sale as of 10:30 on Saturday, 25 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 26 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 20 and 21 February, while Red and Yellow Tulip members can purchase their tickets on 22–23-24 February.

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

Students of the music and vocal 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 45th Istanbul Music Festival programme booklet is available on, at İKSV Kitaplık iPad application available on AppStore, İKSV Box Office (Nejat Eczacıbaşı Building, Sadi Konuralp Caddesi No: 5, Şişhane) and Biletix retail outlets.

Supporters of the Istanbul Music Festival

The 45th 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 Tekfen Foundation, Mercedes-Benz Türk AŞ, Türkiye İş Bankası, ECA-SEREL, Borusan Holding, ENKA Foundation, TSKB, bluechip Creative Events, Bell Holding, Işıklar Holding, Organik Holding, MMK Metalurji, Berrin Erengül, Canan Pak İmregün, Elvan Tuğsuz Güven and Eva Barlas. Zorlu Performing Arts Center also supports the festival as the Venue Sponsor with the Highest Contribution. Additionally, Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra (BIFO) undertakes the sponsorship of the festival’s Orchestra in Residence.

The 45th 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, Beyoğlu Municipality and Beşiktaş Municipality.

The festival takes place with the kind collaborations of Austrian Culture Forum, Boğaziçi University, bomontiada, Dokuz Eylül University Symphonic Orchestra, Fatih Municipality, Goethe Institut, Institut Français Istanbul, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, İş Sanat, Grand Bazaar, Hungarian Cultural Centre, Sait Halim Pasha Mansion, Sakıp Sabancı Museum, Süreyya Opera House, Küd Dıpo Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Church, Aya Yorgi Greek Orthodox Church and Panayia Greek Orthodox Church.

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