Shakespeare inspires Istanbul Music Festival
ISTANBULThe 44th Istanbul Music Festival, organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), will take place between June 1 and 24. The festival will present music lovers with an impressive program built around this year’s theme, inspired by Shakespeare’s verse from the play Twelfth Night: “If Music be the Food of Love, Play On.” The festival’s program was announced at a press meeting on Feb. 3.
The festival will host close to 600 local and international artists, including names like İdil Biret, Murray Perahia, Gautier Capuçon, Angel Blue, Gérard Caussé, Herbert Schuch, Patricia Petibon, Alice Sara Ott, Maria João Pires, Antonio Meneses, Maxim Vengerov, Richard Galliano, and Sylvain Luc, as well as some of the world’s leading ensembles such as the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the Venice Baroque Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Swan, the Artemis Quartet, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, this year’s Guest Orchestra in Residence.
Hosting two world premieres and one Turkey premiere, the 44th Istanbul Music Festival will feature 26 concerts across 17 venues, comprising symphony and chamber orchestras, recitals, and various special projects.
One of the new additions to the festival this year, the Music Route event, will take festival followers on an excursion full of music and history across five churches in Beyoğlu: The Surp Yerrortutyun Church, the Church of Panayia Isodion, the Saint Anthony Lower Church, the Palais de Hollande Chapel, and the Crimea Memorial Church, which will all be used as concert venues for the first time.
‘If Music be the Food of Love, Play On’
This year the festival will commemorate Shakespeare on the 400th year of his death with a special project.
Composed by Mendelssohn for one of Shakespeare’s most colorful plays, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will bring Orchestra of the Swan based in Stratford-upon-Avon together with soprano Ayşe Şenogul, the recipient of the 2015 Leyla Gencer Voice Competition Audience Award, and stage actress Tilbe Saran. Young British violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen will be the soloist in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, the composer’s final large orchestral work.
Another concert inspired by the festival theme is also named after it: “If Music be the Food of Love, Play On.” The night, which will open with the eternal love of “Romeo and Juliet,” will also feature Mendelssohn’s incidental music “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Medtner’s “Fairy Tale No.4” inspired by “King Lear.” The works will be presented with scenes from Shakespeare’s plays by Tilbe Saran and Mert Fırat.
The festival’s Honorary Award will be presented to composer İlhan Baran for his contributions to the standing of Turkish music, both in the country and in the world, through his compositions and his work in education.
The festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Murray Perahia, one of the legendary pianists of our time.
The festival will host the world premiere of its commission to Özkan Manav. As part of the Istanbul Music Festival’s Festival Encounter series, Trio Arte will come together with famous cellist Gérard Caussé for a special concert.
The festival will also present a piano marathon by the great virtuoso İdil Biret, who has left her mark on music as an interpreter and is celebrating her 75th birthday this year.
Musical theater based on Yaşar Kemal novel
The world premiere of Michael Ellison’s musical theater based on Yaşar Kemal’s 1978 novel, “The Sea-Crossed Fisherman,” will take place at the festival. Michael Ellison’s work, with Simon Jones’ libretto and stage direction, Zeynep Tanbay’s choreography, and NohLab’s video scenography, promises to be a complete musical and visual feast, depicting a dramatic and at times surreal interaction between lyricism and idealism and the most basic human longings and darker truths.
The festival program will also feature a special project for children. Written by British conductor Howard Griffiths and composed by Fabian Künzli, the musical fairy tale of “the Witch and the Maestro” presents classical music to children in an entertaining way.
Guest Orchestra in Residence
The festival’s Guest Orchestra in Residence, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra will meet the festival goers two nights in a row. The orchestra’s first concert will feature the multi-Echo Klassik winner pianist Herbert Schuch. For the second performance, the orchestra will perform the most beloved works by 19th century Europe’s greatest composers, with stellar cellist Gautier Capuçon and will also give a nod to the festival theme by playing two masterworks inspired by Shakespeare.
Tickets for the 44th Istanbul Music Festival will be on sale as of 10 a.m. on Feb. 13.
A limited number of tickets will be on sale for the festival’s opening ceremony on June 1 at the Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Center.