ISTANBUL - The 36th International Istanbul Music Festival organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts and sponsored by the Borusan Holding, has begun with an opening ceremony at the Hagia Eirene.
Speaking at the ceremony, Culture & Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay commemorated Turkish diva Leyla Gencer who died in Italy on May 10th at the age of 80 and Aydin Gun, who made valuable contributions to Turkish opera.
"Istanbul will be Europe`s cultural capital in 2010. Our parliament has allocated a significant amount of money for the Istanbul 2010 Project," he said.
During the ceremony, Gurer Aykal, worldwide famous Turkish conductor who has been the musical director and principal conductor of the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra since 1999, was presented with the "Honorary Award" while Jordi Savall, renowned Spanish conductor and composer whose repertory ranges from Medieval to Renaissance and Baroque music, was presented with the "Lifetime Achievement Award".
Savall said that he was honored to accept the award in such a marvelous city.
Later, Vienna Chamber Philharmonic, made up of prize-winning young musicians, gave the opening concert. Turkish cellist Benyamin Sonmez, who was placed among the top five at the Adam International Cello Competition, was the soloist of the concert given by the orchestra under conductor Claudius Traunfellner.
The festival between June 6th and 30th will host more than 500 artists from Turkey and abroad and feature a total of 22 events. The festival venues this year include Topkapi Palace, the Sureyya Opera, the Archeological Museum, the Turker Inanoglu Maslak Show Center (TIM) and the Bulgarian Church alongside the Hagia Eirene Museum.
The first International Istanbul Music Festival took place in 1973.
In its 35 years the International Istanbul Music Festival hosted a number of prominent conductors.
Being the oldest of the Istanbul festivals, which became landmarks of cultural life in Turkey, the International Istanbul Music Festival has earned a reputation for its major role in encouraging research in musicology and in launching special projects on shared cultural values through its productions. Also, the festival became a member of European Festival Association in 1977.
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