Istanbul Jazz Festival announces hybrid 2020 edition
Istanbul Jazz Festival has announced a hybrid edition of the event, combining open-air live shows with post-event streams for fans who would like to experience it at a distance.
The 27th edition will take place between 2 and 14 September, featuring artists such as Can Güngör and Selen Gülün Quintet, at open-air venues including Sultan Park at Swissotel the Bosphorus, Feriye, and The Marmara Esma Sultan Mansion.
Each concert will be available on the digital platform two days after taking place and will be open to worldwide access for 45 days with tickets.
The event, which was originally due to take place in July, is organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) with the support of the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
“The decision to hold the 27th Istanbul Jazz Festival was taken to support musicians and workers of the music sector”
“Despite the difficult circumstances of a pandemic, the decision to hold the 27th Istanbul Jazz Festival was taken to support musicians and workers of the music sector, and to ensure the continuity of cultural activities,” say the organisers.
“With concerts in open-air venues and their online screenings, Istanbul Jazz Festival would like to emphasise the indispensability of cultural life under any circumstance and encourage artistic production by reuniting artists with their audiences. The decision to organise the festival is also important for institutional sustainability in the field of culture and arts.”
This event is the second known “hybrid” festival (ie one selling tickets for both physical and virtual concerts) after Norway’s Varanger Festival, which is selling tickets for both traditional and online performances in order to reach a larger audience while coronavirus restrictions are in place.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
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,
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.
52,000 people attend 25th Istanbul Jazz Festival
Celebrating their 25th year with 52,000 jazz fans, the events of 2016’s failed coup d’état are a distant memory for the Istanbul Jazz Festival. Two years ago, organisers were grateful for just avoiding cancellation amid the political unrest; in 2018, organisers are celebrating the festival’s most successful series in years.
Over the course of the 22-day festival, 450 artists performed in venues around the Turkish capital. Local artists and jazz heavyweights shared the 27 stages of the festival, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV). Among the most high-profile of performers, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds played to a crowd of 9,000 fans, whilst Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters welcomed nearly 200 refugees to their performance, in connection with the UNCHR.
Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters welcomed nearly 200 refugees to their performance, in connection with the UNCHR.
Among the more traditional jazz offerings, this year also welcomed back networking and showcase event, Vitrin, for the second time. Turning a spotlight on musicians and artists from Turkey, the showcase offered a mix of jazz-crossover performances alongside indie, electronic and rock groups.
Since the events of 2016, jazz fans from across the world have rallied around the festival. In 2017, organisers were given a confidence boost as 25,000 people returned to the Istanbul concert series, just one year after the failed coup. At the time, festival director Pelin Opcin said: “The audience reaction was amazing. We were delighted – the eagerness and enthusiasm I saw among attendees this year is really promising.”
Opcin went on to say last year that she was confident future editions of the Istanbul Jazz Festival would see the event bounce back to its former glory, once again attracting the 40,000 to 45,000 festivalgoers that previous years had enjoyed. The scale and success of this year prove her thoughts were well-founded.
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.
Confidence boost for Istanbul Jazz Festival
Last year the Istanbul Jazz Festival was disrupted by a period of political unrest which culminated in a failed coup. So organisers understandably had a little trepidation about how audiences would respond this year.
They needn’t have worried.
“The audience reaction was amazing,” reports festival director Pelin Opcin. “We reached our target of 98% attendance, with 25,000 people attending.
“But it’s not just about the numbers, what was also important for us was seeing how long people stayed at the festival outside of the concert times, and what the general vibe was like. We were delighted – the eagerness and enthusiasm I saw among attendees this year is really promising.
“Artists also told us they had a great time.”
“Based on this year’s experience I feel confident we will be able to return to 45,000 capacity next year”
In the past the event reached a capacity of 40,000-45,000. Organisers wanted to be confident venues would be full, so reduced capacity by hosting free events in smaller venues.
Opcin hopes the success of the event will prove to artists that Istanbul can be a major place for touring once again.
“Based on this year’s experience I feel confident we will be able to return to 45,000 capacity next year,” she adds.
The 4-20 July event promoted by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) featured artists such as Joshua Redman, Donny McCaslin and Christian McBride, and a special tribute to renowned flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia.
The programme is made up of a mixture of free and ticketed concerts. The festival is renowned for using architecturally- and historically-interesting venues and locations, such as an abandoned shoe factory, courtyards and terraces.
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.
Istanbul Fest offers “heartfelt thanks” to acts
Pelin Opcin, festival director of the Istanbul Jazz Festival, has paid tribute to festival organisers, audiences and performers following the conclusion of its 23rd edition, which wrapped up last Monday.
The festival, promoted by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), ran from 27 June to 25 July and coincided with a period of political unrest that culminated with an attempted coup d’état on 15 July. Although it lost a number of acts, including Laura Mvula and Vintage Trouble, the festival escaped the fate of Pozitif’s One Love, which was called off altogether.
“We realised the festival under unusual conditions this year,” says Opcin. “Every note that could be played, every footprint that remained from the listeners who filled in our concerts, were our main sources of motivation and courage.”
He adds, in an apparent reference to the acts who did pull out: “Our heartfelt thanks goes to our distinguished audiences and the contributing artists who prioritised meeting with their listeners in Istanbul over anything else.”
“Our heartfelt thanks goes to the artists who prioritised meeting with their listeners in Istanbul over anything else”
Joss Stone, the Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Nile Rodgers/Chic and Damon Albarn and the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music were among those who made the trek to Istanbul for the four-week event.
Festivals like Istanbul Jazz Fest are vital for the future of democracy in Turkey, says Opcin, who confirms it will return for a 24th year next summer. “We are currently living through a time when we need to feel the unifying, healing power of culture and arts the most,” he comments. “As a cultural institution that has continuously worked for the advancement of culture and arts in Turkey since 1973, we have always taken side with democracy and against military coups. We believe, as one of the most powerful tools in fostering a culture of peace and dialogue, music should never be silenced; on the contrary, it should now be louder than ever.”
IQ spoke to a cross-section of Turkish promoters following the events of 15 July and found that, despite a spate of temporary cancellations, the live industry remains largely optimistic for the future.
Cem Yegül, Pozitif’s CEO and president, echoed Opcin’s sentiments on the importance of live music, calling it “an important element of resistance against instability in troubled times. People do not want the music and the art and, most importantly, the sense of community they provide to come to a stop.”