Music Matters in Istanbul
This week Petroc Trelawny reports from Turkey’s largest city at the start of its year as one of three European Capitals of Culture, alongside Essen in Germany and Pécs in Hungary. Throughout the programme, Petroc is joined by local journalist Serhan Bali to explore the state of Istanbul’s classical music scene.
Petroc talks to those involved in this year’s events; to conductor Cem Mansur and businessman Faruk Pekin, who both resigned from committee positions amidst criticisms about the organisation, and to Yilmaz Kurt, current Secretary General of Istanbul 2010.
Petroc discovers that the model of state funding for orchestras is being challenged by new, privately funded ensembles such as the Borusan Philharmonic – Petroc talks to its director Ahmet Erenli – and the Akbank Chamber Orchestra, with Cem Mansur as its music director.
Petroc visits the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra in rehearsal and talks to Turkish pianists Gülsin Onay and Hüseyin Sermet about the quality of symphonic music-making in their home city - and distinguished virtuoso Idil Biret remembers her childhood in Istanbul, including regular visits by German pianist Wilhelm Kempff.
Photo: Petroc and journalist Serhan Bali
Western Composers and Turkish Music
As a gateway between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is home to a vast range of influences – as seen in its architecture, religious diversity and also in its music. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Mozart, Haydn, Gluck and Beethoven all came under the spell of the exotic East and used Turkish military music in their own work.
Petroc is joined by writer Adrian Mourby and academic Nicholas Till to discuss these Western composers’ passion for Ottoman music.
Istanbul: A Centre for European Music
Conductor Cem Mansur talks to Petroc about the need to move on from the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the present Turkish Republic, and explains the role of classical music in Istanbul’s continued search for identity.
And on a ferry crossing the Bosphorus river, which divides the western and eastern sides of Istanbul, Serhan Bali tells Petroc about operatic life in Turkey – the state system which supports six opera houses and has ambitions for new producing new and innovative work.
Photo: Petroc with producer Emma Bloxhan