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"If Music be the Food of Love, Play On!"

The 44th Istanbul Music Festival will take place between 1 - 24 June 2016. The festival will present music lovers with an impressive programme built around this year’s theme inspired by Shakespeare’s verse, “If Music be the Food of Love, Play On”. This year’s festival programme was announced at a press meeting held on Wednesday, 3 February 2016.

In her speech, Istanbul Music Festival Director Yeşim Gürer Oymak introduced this year’s festival theme, and heralded the commencement of the new Music Route concert series, and the return of the series Weekend Classics that is brought to music lovers free of charge once again.

The 44th Istanbul Music 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 Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Venice Baroque Orchestra, Orchestra of the Swan, Artemis Quartet, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, this year’s Guest Orchestra in Residence.

Hosting two world premieres and one Turkey premiere, this year’s festival will feature 26 concerts, comprising symphony and chamber orchestras, recitals, and special projects, and will take place across 17 different venues.

One of the new additions to the festival this year, Music Route concert series will take festival followers on an excursion full of music and history across 5 churches in Beyoğlu: Surp Yerrortutyun Church, Church of Panayia Isodion, Sent Antuan Lower Church, Palais de Hollande Chapel, and Crimea Memorial Church, which will all be used as concert venues for the first time.

The Weekend Classics series, the free festival event that has already become a tradition, will take place at the Garden of Austrian Culture Forum, Fenerbahçe Park, and the Garden of Sakıp Sabancı Museum.

The Embassy of Germany Tarabya Summer Residence, the Hagia Eirene Museum, Boğaziçi University’s Albert Long Hall and South Campus, Garden of Palais de France, İş Sanat Concert Hall, Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhbition Centre, Süreyya Opera House, and Uniq Hall İstanbul, will be among the other concert venues hosting the festival.

The Festival’s Theme: “If Music be the Food of Love, Play On”

Building its programme around different themes since 2011, the Istanbul Music Festival is inspired by Shakespeare’s famous verse, “If Music be the Food of Love, Play On” in this year’s edition. The theme of the 44th Istanbul Music Festival will commemorate the great bard on the 400th year of his passing away with a special project.

Composed by Mendelssohn for one of Shakespeare’s most colourful 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. The concert will be held at the Hagia Eirene Museum on Friday, 3 June.

Another concert inspired by the festival theme is also named after it: “If Music be the Food of Love, Play On”. Taking place at Sent Antuan Lower Church on 10 June, the concert draws its strength from Shakespeare’s ageless works, combined with Alexei Volodin’s musical sensitivity and the powerful acting of Mert Fırat and Tilbe Saran. The night, which will open with the eternal love of Romeo and Juliet, two characters who have been an inspiration to many composers, 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 along with scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, once again brought to life by the masterful actress of Turkey’s theatre, Tilbe Saran and a talented actor of the younger generation, Mert Fırat.