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An Introduction To The Istanbul Music Festival

An Introduction To The Istanbul Music Festival

Picture of Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
Updated: 9 August 2016
Hosted by IKSV (Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts), the Istanbul Music Festival is an annual celebration of classical music with an impressive roster of national and international artists.

One of the most prestigious and established classical music events in the city, the Istanbul Music Festival has taken place annually since its first event in 1973. With the aim of bringing local and international artists to the stage, the festival has not only harbored collaboration between musicians but also an enriched the city’s classical music repertoire.

In its 43 years plus, the festival has hosted such important orchestras and ensembles as the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, and renowned conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim, and Christoph Eschenbach (just to name a few). International soloists such as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Kiri Te Kanawa, Kathleen Battle, Cecilia Bartoli, and Anne Sophie Mutter are also a part of the festival’s history. The oldest of IKSV’s festivals (which also include Film, Theatre, Jazz, and Design), the Music Festival regularly commissions new works from both the internationally established and the young up and coming.

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The Vienna Symphony Orchestra & Robert Trevino | Photo by Ali Güler

This year’s festival, which took place between June 1-24, was inspired by Shakespeare’s verse “If music be the food of love play on,” and included the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Venice Baroque Orchestra, Orchestra of the Swan, Artemis Quartet, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. With over 600 local and international artists and 26 concerts, the festival spread over seventeen venues, most notably its Music Routes concert series, which took listeners on an excursion through 5 churches in Beyoğlu.

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Cansin Kara | Photo by Ali Güler

This year’s Honorary Award was given to İlhan Baran for his outstanding contribution to Turkish music, both as a composer and teacher at Bilkent University’s Faculty of Music and Performing Arts. The festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award was given to the legendary Murray Perahia, an American concert pianist and conductor.

Keep up to date with IKSV’s upcoming festivals, including the much awaited Biennial (which will take place between September 16-November 12, 2017) by checking out their website.