Last week, Opera Chic reported live from Istanbul, where she checked out the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra with MD Sascha Goetzel (above) and all the other cool initiatives that the Borusan Arts and Culture foundation has given back to the country, linking the East with the West. Go here to read all about it.
Or, snuggle up to the English translation under the cut...
The heart and soul of Istanbul's cultural scene is thriving thanks to the multifaceted initiatives of the Borusan Holding, a Turkish industrial conglomerate that has been diversifying Turkey's cultural pursuits for almost fifteen years.
In 1997, the Borusan Holding created the Borusan Culture and Arts (BCA) as a clearinghouse of cultural and educational programs. On the music frontier, they’ve created the seven-year-old Borusan Quartet and the decade-old Children's Choir for underprivileged Turkish kids. But the most ambitious musical pursuit is the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra ("BIPO" for short), founded in 1999 with Maestro Gürer Aykal at the helm. In January 2009, he passed the baton to Vienna-born Sascha Goetzel, now the orchestra's Artistic Director and Principal Conductor. Under the charismatic maestro, the BIPO has the potential to become one of Europe's greatest orchestras as they navigate the classical, western compositions of the great European composers.
In 2010, BIPO made its first recording, full of exotic Oriental flavors of Respighi, Hindemith and Schmitt. It was followed by a second recording in February 2012 with "Music From the Machine Age", provocative ballet works penned in the aftermath of World War I by Bartok, Prokofiev and Ravel. The BIPO’s rich Turkish roots in traditional Ottoman music allow for exhilarating, dynamic interpretations.
On May 10, the BIPO ended its season at Istanbul's Lütfi Kırdar Auditorium in a concert called "You Wish, We Play", a program democratically chosen by the audience through a poll. Strauss' Four Last Songs (sung by American soprano Michèle Crider) and a pastiche of Mahler, Beethoven, Dvorak, Stravinsky and Brahms was an excellent barometer of Goetzel’s intuitiveness with the orchestra.
But it’s not just all symphony: The BCA also draws younger audiences with its recently-opened Borusan Music House which draws a younger crowd with contemporary music. Last week, the Moritz Von Oswald Trio spun a mix of dub, techno and electronic for the under-30 set. In addition to an intimate performance hall, the Borusan Music House has an exhibition space and artist workshops. Situated on İstiklal Street in Istanbul's artistic and cultural hub, Beyoğlu, it’s directly across the street from the BCA headquarters, the ArtCenter/Istanbul. In addition to offices, the building has an extensive music library, gallery space and studios for ten artists of its artist-in-residence program. It’s also the home of Ertuğ & Kocabıyık Publications, which prints and produces a series of large photography books.
The coolest manifestation of the BCA is the Borusan Contemporary, a modern art space spanning nine floors of Perili Köşk that date from the 1910s, which was completely restored from 1995 - 2000. During the week, it functions as the Borusan Holding's headquarters. However, during the weekend, it’s open to visitors who can wander its extensive modern art collection.
The bridge where the East meets the West and the Orient meets the Occident, Istanbul’s cultural scene thrives. With such a strong cultural backbone, the BIPO is poised to make its mark among it’s European peers.