Grammy Award-winning German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, internationally acclaimed young Chinese pianist Li Yundi, France’s Hélène Grimaud and the Zurich Ballet are some of the highlights of this year’s İstanbul Music Festival, which opens with a concert by the Borusan İstanbul Philharmonic Orchestra (BİFO), the festival’s orchestra-in-residence.
The opening gala will see young Turkish opera singers soprano Simge Büyükedes, mezzo-soprano Ezgi Kutlu, bass-baritone Burak Bilgili and tenor Murat Karahan share the same stage with BİFO in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth, conducted by Sascha Goetzel. The gala will be broadcast live on A Haber news television and streamed on screens to be erected on Caddebostan Beach, Galata Square and Bebek Park, as well as online at www.borusan.com. Internationally acclaimed Turkish pianist/composer Hüseyin Sermet will receive the festival’s Prize of Honor during the opening gala.
The festival’s first weekend will see two of its headliners perform back-to-back on Friday and Saturday nights. Mutter will be onstage on June 1 with the Chamber Orchestra Wien-Berlin at the Lütfi Kırdar Congress Center. Under the baton of maestro Michael Francis, they will present a program that features the Turkish premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s “Lichtes Spiel” and Mozart concertos.
The following night virtuoso pianist Yundi, billed by critics as one of the most accomplished Chopin interpreters today, takes to the stage at the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall for his first concert in Turkey. The 29-year-old Yundi will play a selection of Chopin pieces in his concert, which is part of an ongoing series of cultural events marking the 2012 Year of Chinese Culture in Turkey.
The 40th festival features more than 750 musicians in 23 performances, ranging from symphonic to chamber music concerts and ballets to recitals, until it wraps up on June 29.
Two performances are world premieres: Georgian composer Giya Kancheli’s symphonic work dedicated to the memory of Turkish cellist Benyamin Sönmez and Turkish composer Fazıl Say’s symphony “Mesopotamia.”
Kancheli’s work will be given its premiere on June 11 at the Aya İrini Museum by the Borusan İstanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Andres Mustonen, and the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir. Before the concert, Kancheli will receive the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Say’s “Mesopotamia,” which the composer describes as his “masterpiece,” will premiere on June 23 at the Haliç Congress Center and will be performed by the Borusan İstanbul Philharmonic under the baton of Gürer Aykal.
Another headliner is internationally acclaimed French pianist Grimaud, who performs a recital of pieces by Berg, Bartok and Liszt on June 22 at Aya İrini. Grimaud, who canceled two concerts as part of the 2006 and 2008 İstanbul music festivals due to health reasons, is one of the most eagerly anticipated performers in the lineup.
Apart from concerts, this year’s program also features two special performances by the Zurich Ballet at Aya İrini. The company will be in İstanbul on June 4 and 5 to present two of its productions, set to a score of Bach cello suites, under its distinguished choreographer Heinz Spoerli. The performances are part of the choreographer’s farewell tour.
For a full program, visit the İstanbul Music Festival website at http://muzik.iksv.org/en.