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Istanbul Jazz cancels as Turkish promoters wait for news

Istanbul Jazz Festival, one of the most popular summer events in Turkey, has called off its 27th edition, scheduled for 27 June–14 July 2020, due to the “extraordinary circumstances caused by the global coronavirus outbreak”.

In an announcement postponing the multi-venue event to an unspecified later date, promoter Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) says new dates for the festival, described as “a pivotal event for the city’s prominence in the international concert map”, will be announced in the coming months.

It is the latest setback for Istanbul Jazz, founded in 1994, and one similarly out of promoters’ hands: the 2016 festival was severely affected by a period of political unrest which culminated in a failed coup in Turkey. The 2020 event would have been headlined by Foals, Gregory Porter and jazz supergroup Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride and Brian Blade.

Also postponed amid the Covid-19 pandemic is IKSV’s 48th Istanbul Music Festival, a classical music event, which will take place in September instead of 2–25 June.

Su Topçu of Istanbul-based booking agency/promoter Charmenko explains that the Turkish government, like many around the world, not yet given any indication as to when shows might be allowed again. “The curve is far from flattening here,” adds Nick Hobbs, Charmenko’s owner.

“The curve is far from flattening here”

Hobbs says Turkey – along with Russia and much of southern and eastern Europe – is one of a number of countries where there is “minimal government support for the entertainment industry”, and where furloughing schemes, like those in place in much of western Europe and North America, are “either non-existent or completely inadequate”.

“Why the government does nothing for music is partly a political question – to some degree they see music as one of their enemies – and partly one of wider economic policy,” Hobbs explains. “They will prop up the big holding companies while they let the small-business economy to its own devices.”

As for IKSV, which is backed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, its managing director says he expects live music to return to Turkey some time in the autumn, following discussions between local industry professionals and authorities.

“All I know is that it won’t be the same, at least for a while,” Görgün Taner tells Cumhuriyet,


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Istanbul Jazz Festival appoints new director

Istanbul Jazz Festival has named Harun İzer as its new festival director.

İzer, who had served as assistant director since 2011, replaces Pelin Opcin, who moved to Serious, the producer of London Jazz Festival, in February.

İzer, who joined Istanbul Jazz Festival as an assistant in 2003, curates its European Jazz Club, Encounters with Masters, Tünel Feast and Night Out programmes. He also manages the festival’s newest project, Vitrin: Showcase for Contemporary Music in Turkey, which has taken place annually since 2017.

Additionally, İzer is on the nomination committee for the Paul Acket Award, presented by North Sea Jazz Festival, and the Aga Khan Music Awards, to be awarded by the Aga Khan Music Initiative as of 2019.

More than 50,000 people attended the latest Istanbul Jazz Festival, which hosted more than 450 artists, including Nick Cave and Robert Plant, across 27 venues over 22 days in June and July.


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Istanbul Jazz director takes over London Jazz Festival

Pelin Opcin, festival director of Istanbul Jazz Festival, is to join London Jazz Festival producer Serious as director of programming.

Opcin (pictured) has overseen Istanbul Jazz Festival – organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) – since 2005, and been with IKSV since 1999, and her departure means the leading jazz event enters its 25th anniversary year “with a major change”, says the promoter.

She joins London Jazz Festival on 1 February 2018, but will remain with IKSV until the conclusion of the 25th Istanbul Jazz Festival on 21 July.

The 25th Istanbul Jazz Festival programme, prepared under the direction of Opcin and assistant director Harun Izer, will be announced in the next few days.

Some 25,000 people attended the 2017 Istanbul Jazz Festival, in a successful return following the disruption of the 2016 event by an attempted coup d’état.


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Life goes on as Salon Istanbul reveals 2016 bill

Salon İKSV, one of Istanbul’s leading music venues, has unveiled the line-up for its new concert season as it seeks to move on from the city’s recent political turmoil with “another vibrant year” of shows.

Experimental New York three-piece Battles are first up, playing the 400-capacity concert hall on 24 and 25 September, followed by Turkish jazz vocalist Jehan Barbur on 29 September and Lebanese alt-rock group Mashrou’ Leila on 30 September.

Also performing throughout the winter are Californian indie band Local Natives, London-based The Veils, Danish electro-pop artist Oh Land, British space-funk group The Comet is Coming and Canada’s The Dears, who will draw the curtain down on the 2016–17 season with a show on 11 February.

A Spotify playlist highlighting featured Salon İKSV artists can be listened to below:

İKSV’s Zeynep Seyhun tells IQ Turkey is “now undergoing a period of restructuring to ensure that the events of 15 July [the attempted military coup] are never repeated” and that “daily life has returned to its normal pace in Istanbul”.

“We feel that it’s important to underline that cultural, commercial and social life and all public entertainment are continuing as normal,” he comments. “All the international acts that have been confirmed to take the stage at the Salon will visit Istanbul as planned. The Salon İKSV team is monitoring the situation in Istanbul closely to ensure the security of visiting artists and audiences.”

On 20 July IQ revealed that a number of high-profile international acts had cancelled shows in the aftermath of an attempted coup d’état by a group of army officers, with İKSV’s Istanbul Jazz Festival among the events affected.


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