The 47th Istanbul Music Festival, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) under the sponsorship of E.C.A. Presdöküm Sanayii A.Ş., took off on Tuesday, 11 June with the opening ceremony and concert held at the Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Centre.

In its 47th edition, the Istanbul Music Festival takes on the title of Darkness of Being, Lightness of Being, to draw attention to the impact of dualities such as good and bad, happiness and sadness, birth and death on music and its paths of creation. Until 30 June, the festival will house 22 concerts in 15 venues, presenting 150 pieces from a diverse repertoire that spans the masters of Baroque music Bach, Vivaldi and Handel; one the most striking composers of the 20th century Shostakovich; klezmer induced jazz, and Ottoman classical music. The festival will be a stage for various other events such as pre-concert talks, workshops and free weekend concerts.

Presented by Ceylan Saner, the 47th Istanbul Music Festival’s Opening Ceremony took off with the opening speech of İKSV Chairman Bülent Eczacıbaşı. In his speech, Bülent Eczacıbaşı said: ‘The Istanbul Music Festival is Istanbul's longest-running classical music festival. Since 1973, without interruption, the festival has sought to enrich the cultural life of Istanbul, contribute new works to the world's cultural legacy through commissions, and support young talent. Once again, the festival features new compositions, exciting orchestras, star soloists, and young talent. As always, many of our concerts will take place in Istanbul's historical venues, revealing once again the great wealth and diversity of our city's cultural assets. Through free weekend events aimed at music lovers of every age, our festival will reach broad segments of the public.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of our foundation and first festival, we are proud of our achievements and excited and hopeful about our future goals. For helping us realise our achievements and giving us the strength to aim for more, I would like to convey my deepest appreciation to our audiences, to every musician taking part in this festival and to all of our supporters and sponsors.’
Chairwoman of the Elginkan Community and E.C.A. Presdöküm Sanayii A.Ş. Gaye Akçen received a gratitude plaque on behalf of the Festival Sponsor, E.C.A Presdöküm Sanayii A.Ş. In her speech, Akçen said: ‘As Elginkan Association, we continue our existence for 68 years with our strong support to cultural activities and education. As our great leader Atatürk said on 14 October 1925 in İzmir at Teacher's Training School For Girls, “Music is not part of life, it is life itself. Because 'Life is Music.' The only creature involved in music is human. A life without music is not already possible. Music is the joy, soul, delight and everything of life.” Being together with art, the artist and art lovers, to make room for beauty and to support the development of art are among our basic principles... In accordance with our principles, we are glad to undertake the sponsorship of the Istanbul Music Festival for the fourth time.’
Gratitude plaques were presented to the authorities of Beyoğlu Municipality, Kadıköy Municipality, Boğaziçi University, İş Sanat and Zorlu PSM for their venue support to the festival. Special gratitude was extended to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey.

Türkiye İş Bankası, Borusan Holding, ICBC Turkey Bank A.Ş., FIAT, Mercedes-Benz Türk A.Ş. Tekfen Foundation, the performance sponsors of the 47th Istanbul Music Festival who has an immense contribution towards the realisation of the event and the Istanbul Music Festival 2019-2022 Opening Concert Orchestra Tekfen Philarmonic Orchestra were presented with gratitude plaques.

The festival’s Honorary Award was presented to conductor Prof. Rengim Gökmen

The 47th Istanbul Music Festival’s Honorary Award was presented to the conductor Prof. Rengim Gökmen. Rengim Gökmen’s award was presented by İKSV Chairman, Bülent Eczacıbaşı.

Gökmen started his music education at a very early age under the supervision of his mother, soprano Muazzez Gökmen, and went on to study piano and composition at the Ankara State Conservatoire. Upon graduation, he was sent to Italy by the Turkish government to further his studies. He studied conducting as Franco Ferrara’s student first at the Santa Cecilia Conservatoire and then at the Chigiana Academy in Siena and Santa Cecilia National Academy, graduating with high honours from all three schools. After furthering his studies in Austria, England, and the Netherlands, Gökmen won the Gino Marinuzzi International Conducting Competition in San Remo in 1980, a great success which put him on the international podium, conducting orchestras throughout Europe and in the USA and South America.

Rengim Gökmen served as the Ankara State Opera and Ballet General Music Director between 1984 and 1989 and as the State Opera and Ballet General Director first between 1992 and 1995 and then between 2007 and 2014. During his tenures as General Director, Gökmen launched the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival and the Istanbul International Opera Festival. He was the İzmir State Symphony Orchestra Music Director between 1991 and 2006, during which he conducted numerous concerts, recorded many albums, and toured both home and abroad. He was honoured with the State Artist title in Turkey and with a Cavalleria medal in Italy, both in 1998. He received the Turkish Presidency Culture and Arts Grand Award in 1999.

Rengim Gökmen is currently the music director of the Presidential State Symphony Orchestra and founder/principal conductor of the Doğuş Children’s Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as the supervisor of the İzmir Karşıyaka Municipality Chamber Orchestra, which was founded in 2015 and teaches conducting at the Hacettepe University Ankara State Conservatoire.

The 2018 Aydın Gün Encouragement Award was presented to young pianist Can Çakmur

Awarded every year since 2012 by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) to promising young classical musicians, the Aydın Gün Encouragement Award of 15,000 TL was granted to the 22 year-old pianist Can Çakmur in its seventh edition. Can Çakmur’s award was presented by İKSV Chairman, Bülent Eczacıbaşı.

Born in 1997 in Ankara, Çakmur began his music education with Leyla Bekensir and Ayşe Kaptan. His studies with Jun Kanno, Emre Şen and Marcella Crudeli at La Schola Cantorum in Paris influenced him to a great extent. Since 2012, he has had the chance to work with musicians such as Alan Weiss, Arie Vardi, Ewa Kupiec, Leslie Howard and Robert Levin among others at Mendelssohn-Akademie, The Holland International Music Sessions, Liszt-Akademie Schillingsfürst, and International Academy of Music in Liechtenstein, where he was granted a scholarship. Çakmur currently pursues his studies with Grigory Gruzman in Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimar and continues to work privately with Diane Andersen in Belgium.

The first prize winner of the 10th Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in 2018 and the Scottish International Piano Competition in 2017, Can Çakmur appeared in the 43rd Istanbul Music Festival, where he headlined the opening concert with Borusan Istanbul Philarmonic Orchestra (BIPO) under Sascha Goetzel and performed at the 46th Istanbul Music Festival’s Festival Encounter series. Also a first prize winner of the XXII Roma International Piano Competition in 2012, Çakmur was accepted to Güher and Süher Pekinel’s ‘Young Musicians on the World Stages’ project the following year. After his performance at the Pianale Junior Academy & Competition in 2014, he won a scholarship for the academy and the prize of EMCY (European Union of Music Competitions for Youth). This prize paved the way to a recital at Eindhoven Muziekgebouw. He also won the first prize and the Bartók special prize at the 4th International Franz Liszt Competition for Young Pianists. Çakmur is the recipient of the Young Musician of the Year Award of the 5th Donizetti Classical Music Awards, as well as a laureate from the X. Balys Dvarionas Competition for Young Pianists where he won two special awards.

Festival’s Opening Concert: Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra and Seong-Jin Cho

The 47th Istanbul Music Festival opened with the concert of the young pianist Seong-Jin Cho, winner of the 17th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition, and the Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra, festival’s Opening Concert Orchestra for 2019-2022. The 24 year-old Seong-Jin Cho has risen fast on the international arena since 2015, playing with prestigious orchestras around the world and receiving rave reviews for his albums. The pianist, who made his Turkey debut at the festival’s opening night, reunited with conductor Aziz Shokhakimov after their performance with the RAI National Symphony Orchestra last year. Seong Jin-Cho performed Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. I in C Major, op. 15, whereas Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra performed Franz Liszt’s Symphonic Poem No.3, ‘Les Préludes’.

First Week at the Festival



Indeed a rare chance to experience the Baroque choir music in its authentic spirit and at a 1600 year-old church, the Grammy award-winning Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and standard-setting choir Berlin RIAS Kammerchor join forces to offer a magical evening under the sponsorship of Mercedes Benz Türk A.Ş.

13 June 2019


The four pianists (George–Emmanuel LAZARIDIS, Zeynep ÜÇBAŞARAN, Janis VAKARELIS, Cyprien KATSARIS) achieve a small miracle here and they shed new light on widely known classic works – they bring the orchestra on to four pianos. This is a unique and exceptionally impressive programme that will captivate even the most demanding audiences. The concert will be realised under the sponsorship of Işıklar Holding.

14 June 2019


With a repertoire ranging from Shostakovich and Gedizlioğlu to Brahms's love songs, Berlin RIAS Chamber Choir and Ufuk & Bahar Dördüncü concert will see the world premiere of Istanbul Music Festival’s commission to Zeynep Gedizlioğlu under the sponsorship of ENKA Foundation.
15 June 2019


The programme presents a collection of secular music from England and France, showing the beauty and the drama of Renaissance era polyphony, with lyrics that feature the alluring tension between joy and sorrow, loved and unloved, life and death. Come and join us on a nice Saturday morning to celebrate life, nature, and love in its various forms. Reservation is required:


The “sensational” Yuja Wang is back at the festival for another dazzling concert. Her 2018/19 season includes artist residencies at the Carnegie Hall and Vienna Konzerhaus, Asia tours with the Munich Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Europe tours with the Birmingham City Symphony and Luxembourg Philharmonic. This concert also marks the festival debut of the renowned Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra.

16 June 2019


The Music Route sets to explore one of the most multicultural corners of Istanbul this time: Samatya. The district, where Turks, Greeks, Armenians, and Jews live together to this day, was originally a fishing village and it hosts many sacred buildings, the oldest of which dates back to 383. The concert will be realised under the sponsorship of bluechip Creative Events.


As the world is already getting ready for the 2020 Beethoven Year, the festival also features the great composer in its programmes. Isabelle Faust, Jean Guihen Queyras, and Alexander Melnikov “offer a powerful and insightful interpretation of Beethoven” as the New York Times aptly puts it. The concert will be realised under the sponsorship of Nobel İlaç.

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