49th Istanbul Music Festival prepares to meet its audiences in outdoor venues through August and September

The 49th Istanbul Music Festival concerts will be held in the most splendid outdoor venues of Istanbul from 18 August to 16 September 2021. With its theme, repertoire and side events, this year’s festival will respond to the question “Is another world possible?” in the language of music.

Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) with the support of the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the 49th Istanbul Music Festival will for the first time in its history hold all the concerts in its programme in outdoor venues. Over the course of one month and in 14 different locations, the festival will host over 30 soloists, ensembles and orchestras from Turkey and abroad.

In 21 concerts organised in the scope of the festival, ensembles such as Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra, Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, Accademia Bizantina, Festival Orchestra, Modigliani and casalQuartet along with numerous stars including Fazıl Say, İdil Biret, Khatia Buniatishvili, Anna Vinnitskaya, Alexander Rudin, Hande Küden, Paul Meyer, Simon Ghraichy, Martynas Levickis and Ufuk-Bahar Dördüncü will meet the music lovers of Istanbul.

This year the festival concerts will take place in Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre, Sakıp Sabancı Museum Fıstıklı Teras, Maximum Uniq Open-Air Stage, Palais de France, Palazzo di Venezia, ARTER Backyard, Rahmi M. Koç Museum, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus, and St. Benoit French High School Courtyard in compliance with public health measures against the pandemic.

All Istanbulites are invited to the free weekend concerts to be held in Atatürk Urban Forest, Fenerbahçe Park and Yıldız Park as part of the Istanbul Music Festival. Nature hikes, workshops and activities geared towards children and the youth will again be organised free-of-charge and in compliance with public health measures against the pandemic. Pre-concert Talks with the participation of speakers from a variety of disciplines will continue to be held this year as well. The free-of-charge talks will also be made available on podcast.

Festival tickets will be on sale as of 10.30 on Friday, 25 June. İKSV Tulip Card holders can purchase their discount tickets as of 10.30 on Tuesday, 22 June.

About COVID-19 measures

All concerts of the 49th Istanbul Music Festival will be held in compliance with public health measures against COVID-19. For the measures to be implemented at the festival sites and the COVID-19 Activity Guide please refer to: https://muzik.iksv.org/en/important-notices-2

Concerts to declare “Another World Is Possible”

Placing emphasis on the difficult period we are in, the 49th Istanbul Music Festival with the theme “Another World Is Possible” takes its audiences on a musical journey to alternative worlds of peaceful coexistence of humanity with nature and the entire universe. In the hopes of a new era ruled by love, respect, hope, solidarity and trust, the festival explores new forms of music and responds to the question “Is another world possible?” in the language of music through the works in its repertoire and its side events.

Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra accompanies the pianist Anna Vinnitskaya at the Opening Concert

The 49th Istanbul Music Festival opens with Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Festival’s Opening Concert Orchestra in 2019-2022. Under the baton of the conductor Aziz Shokhakimov, Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra will accompany the pianist Anna Vinnitskaya on stage. Tekfen Foundation is the Performance Sponsor with the highest contribution of the concert that will take place on Wednesday, 18 August at Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre.

Awarded since 2012 by İKSV to contribute to the development of the musicians of the future, Aydın Gün Encouragement Award 2020 goes to the 29 years old violinist Alican Süner who will be presented his award in the upcoming days. Moreover, winner of the 2019 award the violinist Elvin Hoxha Ganiyev will also receive his award at the festival’s opening ceremony.

The festival’s Honorary Awards go to Cihat Aşkın and Pēteris Vasks

This year, 49th Istanbul Music Festival’s Honorary Award will be presented to the international representative of Turkish Violin School Cihat Aşkın, while the Lifelong Achievement Award will be given to the Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks. Cihat Aşkın will receive his award at the opening ceremony on 18 August; and Pēteris Vasks on 6 September, before the Modigliani Quartet “A Premiere: Vasks” concert which will be the Turkey premier of his latest work commissioned by the 48th İstanbul Music Festival. Performance Co-Sponsors of the concert to be held at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus are Berrin Erengül, Elvan Tuğsuz Güven and Eva Barlas.

The festival hosts four world premieres

Along with the Turkey premiere of Pēteris Vasks’s latest composition, the festival will host the world premieres of four works.

Istanbul Music Festival celebrates the 100th birthday of İlhan Usmanbaş who has committed his entire life to music, innovation and the voice of the “other” and brought contemporary characteristics to the music of Turkey through the innovative style of his compositions. The artist’s works which require finesse in their rendition will be performed by Diskant Contemporary Music Ensemble whose members work with the best orchestras of Turkey and continue their successful careers as soloists. The programme of this concert, which will be held on Thursday, 26 August at ARTER Backyard with the performance sponsorship of Aromsa, features İlhan Usmanbaş’s Octet dated 1960 and a selection of his music for solo instruments along with the world premieres of the works composed by his students Ahmet Altınel, Özkan Manav and Mehmet Nemutlu for this special concert.

In 2021, which has been declared the year of commemorating Yunus Emre by UNESCO, the festival focuses on the folk poet with yet another project titled “Yellow Flower”. The concert will present the first performance of the new compositions written especially for the festival by Şirin Pancaroğlu and Bora Uymaz and merged with the verses of Yunus Emre. Even though she has been raised in the classical music tradition, the harpist Şirin Pancaroğlu is praised for her works in the music of Turkey, improvisation, tango and pioneering styles. The harpist who is always open to original projects and new styles of music will be on stage together with İzmir State Classical Turkish Music Chorus soloist Bora Uymaz who has over 800 compositions in various forms and genres. The concert will be realised with the contribution of performance sponsor Işıklar Holding on Monday, 13 September at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus.

“Voice of Nature” from Fazıl Say

Fazıl Say participates in the festival with a concert where he will perform his works titled Mount Ida and The Walking Mansion which fully reflect the festival’s theme Another World Is Possible. The violinist Friedemann Eichhorn, who has brilliant collaborations in chamber music with artists such as Gidon Kremer and Yuri Bashmet, will join Say on stage for this concert. Meanwhile, the recipient of three ECHO Klassik prizes, Diapason d’Or and numerous prestigious awards, casalQuartett, which sets itself apart from its counterparts with the intense emotional bond it forges with its audience, will add a new concert to its long list of performances with Say. The concert will take place on Thursday, 19 August at Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre with the support of Performance Sponsor with the highest contribution Mercedes-Benz Türk A.Ş.

Chamber Music with Stars: Altun, Rudin and Şentürker all together

Among the foremost representatives of the Russian school of musical interpretation, world-renowned cellist, conductor and harpsichordist Alexander Rudin is once again participating in the festival to further consolidate the strong bond he has established with the musicians and music lovers of our country. In the concert to be held on Friday, 20 August at Rahmi M. Koç Museum with the support of performance sponsor Nobel İlaç, Rudin will be joined by the pianist İris Şentürker and the violist Efdal Altun. At this concert, Alexander Rudin, who is a People’s Artist of Russia and the holder of the State Prize of Russia and the City of Moscow Government Prize, will receive the Istanbul Music Festival Lifelong Achievement Award which could not be presented to him last year due to the global pandemic.

İdil Biret celebrates her 80th birthday at the festival:
Biret and the Festival Orchestra composed of young musicians share the stage

Pianist İdil Biret, who has crowned her musical journey by performing with the world’s most distinguished orchestras and given close to three thousand concerts throughout her career and reached three million music lovers with her recordings, celebrates her 80th birthday at the Istanbul Music Festival! In this special concert Biret is accompanied by the Festival Orchestra under the baton of Can Okan who has conducted pieces with numerous symphony orchestras in Sweden after completing his masters in orchestral conducting at Stockholm Royal College of Music. The Festival Orchestra, which is composed of our country’s most talented young musicians all of whom are non-tenured players in state opera and symphony orchestras, is an ensemble founded last year during the Istanbul Music Festival with the belief in the uniting force of music. During the concert, music lovers will witness an exciting rendition of ‘Air’ movement of Bach’s Orchestral Suite no.3 and Brandenburg Concerto no.5; followed by İdil Biret’s interpretation of Chopin which has been rightfully acclaimed by critics. Realised with the support of Performance Sponsor with the highest contribution E.C.A. Presdöküm Sanayii A.Ş., the concert will be held on Tuesday, 24 August at Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre.

“BIPO Focus” features star pianist Khatia Buniatishvili

Sponsored by Borusan Holding, the “BIPO Focus” section of the Istanbul Music Festival comprises three concerts. In the first concert of the series to be held on Wednesday, 25 August at Sakıp Sabancı Museum Fıstıklı Teras, Borusan Quartet and clarinettist Paul Meyer will be on stage. In the second concert titled “Piazzolla’s 100th Birthday” to be held on Thursday, 2 September at Maximum Uniq Open-Air Stage, Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra will accompany the accordionist Martynas Levickis, renowned for his virtuosity in the classical and contemporary repertoire, who mesmerises the audiences with his musicality, charisma and dynamic performances. In this concert, BIPO will play under the baton of the Norwegian conductor Tabita Berglund who is recognised as one of the most exciting and talented artists of Europe.

In the final concert of “BIPO Focus” on Tuesday, 14 September; Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre will host the star pianist Khatia Buniatishvili. Buniatishvili, who works with the most eminent orchestras and most successful conductors across the world, receiving standing ovations as one of the most popular guests of globally prestigious events such as BBC Proms, Salzburg, Verbier, La Roque d'Anthéron Festivals and Hollywood Bowl, will perform with Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of conductor Rebecca Tong. As IKSV’s permanent orchestra through the years of 2003-2018, BIPO has performed the opening concerts of the festival as well as the world premieres of important works and is the first orchestra from Turkey to be invited to BBC Proms.

First violinist from Turkey to be accepted to the Berlin Philharmonic Hande Küden on stage with the Festival Orchestra

Marking a first in the 139 years long established history of the Berlin Philharmonic, which is one of the world’s most prominent orchestras, the violinist Hande Küden became the first ever musician from Turkey to be accepted to the ensemble and plays in the 1st violin section of the orchestra. Küden, whose bright career inspires hope and enthusiasm among young musicians, will be accompanied by the Festival Orchestra conducted by Cem Mansur the recipient of Ricordi Conducting Prize. Türkiye İş Bankası is the performance sponsor of the concert which will be held on Tuesday, 31 August at St. Benoit French High School Courtyard.

“La Scène Révoltée” by Ufuk & Bahar Dördüncü

Ufuk & Bahar Dördüncü, who make the voice of our country heard in the field of contemporary music across the world, are participating in the festival programme built around the theme Another World Is Possible with their project “La Scène Révoltée”. The project which is entering its 10th year and comprising the works of Debussy and Stravinsky has been turned into a film by Jean-Luc Godard’s assistant Fabrice Aragno. Virtually entering this film that draws its inspiration from nature, dance and the Egypt and Prague springs, and watching Ufuk & Bahar Dördüncü create an audio and visual turbulence with their performances in the time-resisting courtyard of St. Benoit French High School will invite the audiences to a dance of music and image. Performance sponsor of the concert that will be held on Wednesday, 1 September is ENKA Foundation.

“Rockstar of the piano” Simon Ghraichy

One of the most striking artists of his generation, the French pianist of Mexican and Lebanese heritage Simon Ghraichy will take music lovers on an intercultural adventure with a concert to be held on Wednesday, 8 September at Palais de France with the support of performance sponsor STONELINE. He is now among the indispensables of classical music! ‘Rock star of the piano’ Simon Ghraichy is the excellent virtuoso in the true sense of the word. Nurtured by the richness of cultural diversity, this concert elevates the vital energy of this year’s festival to a new height.

A baroque fest in Palazzo di Venezia by Accademia Bizantina

An expert in the execution and aesthetics of baroque music, Accademia Bizantina in full harmony with its first violinist Alessandro Tampieri will offer music lovers an extraordinary experience with the luminous mezzo-soprano of the music world Sophie Rennert presenting a predominantly Italian baroque programme in Palazzo di Venezia. Bell Holding and Organik Holding are the performance co-sponsors of this last concert of the festival which will be held on Thursday, 16 September in Palazzo di Venezia.

The festival invites all music lovers to free concerts in Atatürk Urban Forest, Yıldız Park and Fenerbahçe Park

In the scope of the festival, the Weekend Classics which offers Istanbulites a pleasant start to the weekend is meeting music lovers free-of-charge with the support of performance sponsor Mercedes Benz Türk A.Ş.

First one of the series will be realised on Saturday, 28 August in the Atatürk Urban Forest Festival Area. Founded in 2015 by conductor Başak Doğan, Chromas, which is among the pioneers of chorus music in our country, will meet the visitors of Atatürk Urban Forest with a repertoire reaching from modern jazz to folk arrangements. Following the concert, a hike and nature watch will be organised. Chromas’s next concert will be on Sunday, 5 September in Fenerbahçe Park with the kind support of the Municipality of Kadıköy.

Weekend Classics to be held on Sunday, 12 September will be hosted by the serene atmosphere of Yıldız Park. Embracing the entire array of saxophone repertoire with enticing melodies ranging from baroque to tango and contemporary music, Aureum Saxophone Quartet composed of Lukas Seifried, Viola Jank, Johannes Weichinger and Martina Stückler will be on stage for this concert.

This year the Music Route is afloat

One of the most special projects of the festival, the Music Route offers a unique experience in its sixth edition. This year, a journey completely devoted to music awaits the music lovers on the ferry lines cruising through Istanbul.

The Music Route comprises two tours to be held on Saturday, 11 September at 11.00 and 14.00 with the support of performance co-sponsors bluechip Creative Events and Meke A.Ş. The departure and arrival pier of both tours will be the Kabataş Pier. In the first concert of the Music Route, which will host three different concerts on each tour, the successful violinist Orest Smovhz and double bass player Nazarii Stets will be on stage with a programme spanning the classics and the contemporary. The Music Route will continue with Aureum Saxophone Quartet which will present a riveting performance with its colourful and extraordinary repertoire. In the last concert, Cello Paradiso composed of four cellists will complete the Music Route with a programme ranging from Vivaldi to Albioni, and Shostakovich to Fazıl Say.

The festival continues to support the women stars of the future

Initiated in 2018 by the Istanbul Music Festival in collaboration with the Education Support Fund Sponsor TSKB (Industrial Development Bank of Turkey), the Women Stars of Tomorrow project, which aims to support the women musicians of the future, continues to contribute to the advancement of instrument, opera and conducting careers of gifted musicians in the international arena. This year’s opinion leader of the project, which will support 13 young women musicians, is the pianist Gülsin Onay who will illuminate the path of young women musicians with her experience, knowledge and expertise. The recording of the concert that Gülsin Onay will give together with the Women Stars of Tomorrow will be available in autumn on IKSV’s YouTube channel.

The festival organises free activities for children

The festival is organising, in cooperation with İKSV Alt Kat: Learning and Interation Space, free workshops and activities for children during A Musical Weekend. In the programme of activities to be realised on Saturday, 4 September in Etiler Sanatçılar Park and on Sunday, 5 September in Fenerbahçe Park, workshops and performances titled Musical Circle for Toddlers, Rhythm and Movement Workshop, A Travel through Time and Genres with Children’s Songs and Dancing Crayons will meet with the children. For detailed information on the activities: muzik.iksv.org/en

Speakers from various disciplines meet at the Pre-concert Talks

Organised in the scope of the festival aiming to enrich the experiences of music lovers as well as offer more in depth information about the composers and works, the Pre-concert Talks will continue to bring the festival audiences together with speakers from various disciplines. The talks, which will be held in festival venues with the participation of figures such as Aydın Büke, Ahmet Altınel, Mehmet Nemutlu, Özkan Manav, Hasan Uçarsu, Ali Bektaş, Arzu Öztürkmen, Zeynep Oktay Uslu and Dr. Sungu Okan, will also be broadcasted on IKSV’s Spotify account reaching ever larger audiences. Details of the discussion programme created under the guidance of Asuman Kafaoğlu-Büke are available at muzik.iksv.org/en.

The festival will also produce a podcast series with information on the repertoires of the concerts in its programme. The series prepared by the 2018 Aydın Gün Encouragement Award holder pianist Can Çakmur can be accessed on IKSV’s Spotify and Apple Podcast channels in August.

49th Istanbul Music Festival tickets

Following the discounted presale period for Tulip Card holders, the festival tickets will be on sale as of 10.30 on Friday, 25 June and can be purchased through passo.com.tr and İKSV main box office. There will be a limited number of discounted student tickets for every concert.

Tulip Card holders who support all the activities realised by IKSV throughout the year with their memberships have priority access to Istanbul Music Festival concert tickets at discounted prices. Black Tulip Card holders may purchase their tickets on Tuesday, 22 June; White Tulip Card holders on Wednesday, 23 June; and Red and Yellow Tulip Card holders on Thursday, 24 June as of 10.30. Black and White Tulip Card holders can buy their tickets at a 25% discount through passo.com.tr and İKSV box office with an option to select seats. Red and Yellow Tulip Card holders can purchase their tickets at a 15% discount.

As usual, conservatory students of music and opera departments will be able to attend the festival concerts free-of-charge depending on the pandemic capacities of the venues. Students must send an email to rezervasyon@iksv.org with their name and student certificate one day prior to the concert they wish to attend.

Supporters of the 49th Istanbul Music Festival

Performance Sponsors with the highest contribution of the 49th Istanbul Music Festival are Borusan Holding, Mercedes-Benz Türk A.Ş./ Mercedes-Benz Otomotiv Tic. ve Hiz. A.Ş, Tekfen Foundation and E.C.A. Presdöküm Sanayii A.Ş.

Performance Sponsors of the festival include Türkiye İş Bankası, ENKA Foundation, Nobel İlaç, Borusan Holding, Bell Holding, Organik Holding, Işıklar Holding, STONELINE, Aromsa, Berrin Erengül, Elvan Tuğsuz Güven, Eva Barlas, Mercedes-Benz Türk A.Ş. / Mercedes-Benz Otomotiv Tic. ve Hiz. A.Ş., Meke A.Ş. and bluechip Creative Events.

Tekfen Foundation also supports the festival with Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra as the Festival’s Opening Concert Orchestra in 2019-2022.

TSKB (Industrial Development Bank of Turkey) supports the festival as Education Support Fund Sponsor.

Aktif Bank Private Banking supports the festival as Contributing Institution.

The 49th Istanbul Music Festival is supported by the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Republic of Turkey Governorship of Istanbul, the Republic of Turkey Istanbul Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Beşiktaş Municipality, and Kadıköy Municipality.

The festival is organised in collaboration with ARTER, Österreichisches Kulturforum, Buğday Association for Supporting Ecological Living, Institut Francaise de Turquie, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul, İBB Kültür A.Ş., Consolato Generale d’Italia Istanbul, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, UNIQ Istanbul, Ukrainian Institute, Republique Française, Rahmi M. Koç Museum, Sakıp Sabancı Museum, St. Benoit French High School and Ferry Lines A.Ş.

The festival is also supported by IKSV’s Founding Sponsor Eczacıbaşı Group, IKSV Official Hotel Sponsor The Marmara Group, Insurance Sponsor Zurich Sigorta and Service Sponsors American Hospital, Plaza OSGB, GFK, AGC, loodos, and OMD.

The 49th Istanbul Music Festival’s poster campaign was designed by Ulaş Eryavuz; the festival video was created by Utku Yazıcı. The publicity campaign was directed by the design advisory committee comprised of Pemra Ataç, Uğurcan Ataoğlu and Arkın Kahyaoğlu.


For detailed information on all concerts in the festival programme: muzik.iksv.org/en

18 August Wednesday 20.00, Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre

19 August Thursday 20.00, Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre

20 August Friday 20.00, Rahmi M. Koç Museum

24 August Tuesday 20.00, Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre

25 August Wednesday 20.00, Sakıp Sabancı Museum Fıstıklı Terrace

26 August Thursday 19.30, ARTER Backyard

28 August Saturday 11.00, Atatürk Urban Forest Festival Area

31 August Tuesday 20.00, St. Benoit French High School Courtyard

1 September Wednesday 20.00, St. Benoit French High School Courtyard

2 September Thursday 20.00, Maximum Uniq Open-Air Stage

4 September Saturday 10.30, Etiler Sanatçılar Park
5 September Sunday 10.30, Fenerbahçe Park

5 September Sunday 14.30, Fenerbahçe Park

6 September Monday 20.00, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus

8 September Wednesday 20.00, Palais de France

11 September Saturday 11.00-13.20 / 14.00-16.20, Ferry Lines

12 September Sunday 11.00, Yıldız Park

“YELLOW FLOWER” Remembering Yunus Emre on his 700th Anniversary: A Musical Project on Humanity and the Universe
13 September Monday 20.00, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus

14 September Tuesday 20.00, Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre

16 September Thursday 20.00, Palazzo di Venezia

You may follow the news and updates on the 49th Istanbul Music Festival through the festival website and social media accounts: