Salon İKSV to stay fresh in new season
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Salon İKSV has announced 15 concerts to take place in the venue in the coming days, and many more will be announced in the near future. This season Salon İKSV will also co-produce a play together with the Turkish experimental theater company DOT.Salon İKSV has been a breath of fresh air in Istanbul’s music scene for the last two years, hosting many celebrated acts. However, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts’ concert venue, located on the first floor of the foundation’s Nejat Eczacıbaşı building in Beyoğlu’s Şişhane area, is not dedicated exclusively to music performances. In line with the foundation’s overall mission to support high culture and arts and spread them throughout Istanbul, Salon İKSV has hosted a local theater company every Monday, and in launching the new season’s program, Salon İKSV is not abandoning its diverse mission.
“In the new season we will continue with theater performances. Our announced program covers the rest of 2012, and it includes a play presented every Monday until January 2013,” said Salon’s director, Bengi Ünsal.
This season Salon İKSV will co-produce, together with the Turkish experimental theater company DOT, a play titled “İki Kişilik Bir Oyun” (A Play of Two), which had previously been staged as part of the 15th Istanbul Theater Festival in 2006.
“The original text was written by Yekta Kopan. The play’s plot is highly dependent on a giant stage prop that resembles a labyrinth, which makes it impossible to present on the Salon stage. The stage design needs to be movable, because Salon hosts a different event every day,” Ünsal said.
Bülent Erkmen, who is also İKSV’s corporate identity consultant, has rewritten the concept so that the stage design can work with the conditions at Salon. “We will never give up on theater, because there are a lot of local groups in need of performance venues. After this play, which will run until late December, we are considering providing space for two or three more plays,” Ünsal said.
The selection of these plays depends on various criteria. Salon İKSV accepts individual applications, but they prioritize those plays that appeared in IKSV’s theater festival but could not find venues afterward.
“Another thing that we are zealously sticking to is literary talks. This year we are planning to enrich our seminar program with talks about music history, for which we are going to collaborate with music writer Murat Beşer,” Ünsal said.
‘Modern Classics’ among highlights of new season
“Every year, the venue hosts 180 events, 150 of which are ticketed. We don’t sell tickets for talks and seminars. Attendance rates are increasing every year, and now the venue has successfully formed its own audience profile,” Ünsal said.
The audience profile Ünsal describes is divided into two age groups with very different tastes. And in preparing Salon’s program, the management crew pays the utmost attention to selecting events so that both groups will be content. “The younger age group made up of people between the ages of 18 and 25, and the second is the 25-to-40 age group. While the former group comprises the chief audience at indie rock and pop concerts, the latter frequent our jazz and classical music projects,” she said.
The highlight of the upcoming season, which may be pleasing for both age groups, is Salon’s “Modern Classics” concerts, with which the venue is going slightly experimental.
“There will be two concerts, each of which will be a package show where three individual performers will play a 40-minute repertoire one after another.” Both shows will repeat for a second night. On Oct. 19 and Oct. 20, Nils Frah, Olafur Arnalds and A Winged Victory for the Sullen will perform, and on Nov. 20 and 21, Hauschka, Dustin O’Halloran and Johann Johannsson will complete the first iteration of the series.
The most-anticipated shows in the new season for the younger age group are British electronic music band Saint Etienne, Canadian indie rock band Destroyer, and former Supergrass front man Gaz Coombes, who will perform with his solo project. Saint Etienne’s concert on Oct. 4 will also mark the opening of the new season.
“We have always thought of this place as an opportunity to host small or medium-scale music projects that cannot be hosted at İSKV’s festivals. This is how we prepare the seasonal program. It does not depend on anyone’s personal tastes, including mine,” Ünsal said.
“There are a lot of bands that play at Salon that do not suit my tastes. I would not even think of suggesting a band that I like if it did not comply with Salon İKSV’s profile,” she said. Asked what this profile includes, Ünsal takes some time to answer. “We cannot promote the mainstream. There must be an alternative aspect to the project for us to host it, because our aim is to make room for those outside the margins of the ‘easily accessible’ category.”
Another criterion is the physical conditions. “Salon can host 150 people at a seated concert and the number rises to 400 when standing. And we have to keep the ticket prices reasonable, given the fact that the concert sponsors never put in too much money, let alone undertaking all the show expenses, despite what the general audience would think. One of my wishes is to host a special gig by The Black Keys for a limited audience, that would be so cool; and so would an Eddie Vedder performance with his solo project; but I cannot imagine how high the ticket prices would be, if I could even convince them to come for a show,” Ünsal said.
Therefore, a demanding aspect of managing Salon İKSV is to get popular bands in at the lowest possible prices.
“Sometimes luck is on our side, as was the case with Civil Wars. We had been following them for some time and we finally booked a show. A few months later they received a Grammy award and the tickets immediately sold out. Their price probably doubled or tripled after they received the award. If we hadn’t booked them before then, we could never have booked them,” Ünsal said.
Civil Wars had to postpone that show due to health issues, however, and the duo will appear at Salon in December for two consecutive shows.
“We look through blogs and music magazines and find bands that have good potential there. But what if you are wrong? Sometimes you can’t take that risk, which is a great risk, after all. And when you go to an established band the prices are too high for a 400-person-capacity club. This is the kind of math that we are doing every day,” Ünsal said.