İzmir International Festival

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Another Izmir International Festival approaches this year, offering an interesting and varied program. Once again Ephesus will provide a superb venue for pieces familiar to the Izmir audience and some that may be new. Ephesus at night is perhaps more evocative than during the blinding light of the summer sun and lends a special ambience to the performance of classical music.

International Izmir Festival

The International Izmir Festival reaching an audience expressed in millions over the 30 years has been proudly providing opportunities to numerous world renowned artists to perform at unique historical venues.

As a festival of great prestige and high artistic standards, it has been organized in Izmir, a city located on the Aegean Coast and right in the middle of several historical places and popular touristic resorts of Turkey. Izmir, known as the cradle of civilization, motherland of Epic poet Homer and famous philosopher Heraclitus, is a-8000-year old city where the festival has mingled art and history.

Izmir Foundation for Culture Arts and Education, organizer of the Izmir Festival, was built 26 years ago under the leadership of Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı. on a ground dedicated to the vision of “every effort made to shape the future, to turn dreams come alive, to be able to open the past, to accumulate experiences into innovations serves humanity”. Non-profit, non-governmental and non-political, the Foundation aiming to research and study, to support, create, protect and preserve culture and arts.

The Festival covering a wide spectrum of classical, traditional and contemporary works in music, ballet, theatre and opera including both international and national performances, has proved itself to be one of the cultural and intellectual corner stones of Turkey, attracting great attendance from locals and foreigners visiting Turkey alike.

From its first inception, the festival has spent a special effort to enable the Ancient city of Ephesus which is one of the best preserved antique cities of the world and other historical heritage of Izmir to be included among its venues. The Library of Celsus which was one of the richest libraries of its era; the House of Virgin Mary, which is the meeting point of thousands of Catholics from all over the world; the Agora, the most well preserved ruin of the ancient city located at the Centrum, Bayraklı where the city was first founded, Metropolis which is one of the most favorite settlements of Western Anatolia; St. Polycarp, which is one of the apocalyptical seven churches and Mt. Pagos on the slopes of where a new city was built at the instigation of Alexander the Great and the Asklepion Theatre of Pergamon, which is healing center of the ancient world where the first psychological treatment had been used and which was dedicated to the God of Health, Asklepios to name a few.

The festival has achieved to make the introduction of Izmir worldwide once again by way of art by hosting performers such as: Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yuri Temirkanov, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yuri Temirkanov, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy, Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin, Orchestra De Paris conducted by Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, London Academy of Ottoman Court Music, Chamber Music Orchestra conducted by Emre Aracı, Philharmonia Wien Orchestra conducted by Ola Rudner, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Tolga Kashif, after few years conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Izmir Festival Orchestra conducted by David Gimenez, Orchestre Del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino conducted by Zubin Mehta, Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini conducted by Lorin Maazel, Filarmonica della Scala conducted by Myung-Whun Chung, Royal  Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Daniele Gatti, Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Herbert Blomstedt.

 “I Musici”, Ensemble Archi Della Scala soloist Katia Ricciarelli, Allegri Strings Quartet, Ravel String Quartet, St. Petersburg Russian Chamberphilharmonia, I Fagiolini, Filarmonici di Roma, Toulouse National Chamber Orchestra, The Philharmonics, Moscow Soloists, Vienna Chamber Philharmonic, Academy of St. Martin In The Fields Chorus, Philharmonishe Virtuosen Berlin, The Bach Orchestra of Gewanhaus Leipzig, The Red Army Chorus, conducted by Alexandre Poustovalov, “White Oak Dance Project” Baryshnikov Productions, Béjart Ballet Lausanne,  Martha Graham Dance Company, Stuttgart Ballet Stars, The Royal Ballet of Flanders, New York City Ballet, Cristina Hoyos Flamenco Dance Company, Ballet du Rhin, Balletto Del Theatro Alla Scala, Ballet of The Grand Theatre of Geneva, Netherlands Dance Theatre, Maurice Bejart Tokyo Ballet, Ballet Nacional de España, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Dutch National Ballet, Josè Carreas, Isabel Rey, Julian Llyod Webber, Lucia Micarelli, Leonidas Kavakos, Shlomo Mintz, Maxim Vengerov, Ivo Pogorelich, Yuri Bashmet, Fazıl Say, Kutsi Ergüner, Giora Feidman, Gülsin Onay, Alexander Ghindin, David Lively, Cyprien Katsaris, Tuncay Yılmaz, Alexander Rudin, Güher & Süher Pekinel, Jan Garbarek & Hilliard Ensemble, Kiri Te Kanawa, Gheorghe Zamfir, Nigel Kennedy, Marian Gheras, Vienna Boys Choir, Uto Ughi, Michele Campanella, Joan Baez, James Brown, Tom Jones, Jethro Tull, Tanita Tikaram, Scorpions, Bryan Adams, Chick Corea, Chris de Burg, Cecilia Gasdia, Alirio Diaz, Azize Mustafa Zadeh,  Paco de Lucia, Ray Charles, Sting, Natalie Cole, Mario Frangoulis, Emma Shapplin, Jane Birkin, Buika, Kodo, Robin Gibb, Omara Portuondo, Cesaria Evora, Ian Anderson, Natalie Cole, and Elton John.

Click for CONCERT PROGRAMME                                                           

While the price of 250 TL for the best seats may be out of the reach of many there are tickets available for a more modest 30TL. In past years the concerts have been reasonably well attended but unfortunately because of ticketing arrangements local people may not find it as easy to obtain them. Tickets are available online from   http://www.biletix.com/etkinlik-grup/114650481/IZMIR/en
and having spoken to a representative from IKSEV the organisers of the event, it would appear that tickets purchased can be collected at the gate from 7:30pm on the day of the event. This information does not appear to be provided on the IKSEV website nor on the Biletix website. It is not helpful to be informed by IKSEV that the responsibility for ticketing lies with Biletix. It should be IKSEV themselves who ensure that clear and correct information is provided.

I found arrangements regarding ticketing confusing when I have attended the festival previously. The lack of information regarding ticketing especially for the local community is unsatisfactory. It is noted that there is a ticket outlet in Manisa nearby to Izmir, yet Selçuk whose community affords hospitality to concertgoers not only have to face the challenge of obtaining tickets but are not even regarded as being sufficiently worthy of IKSEV’s attention since there is no promotion of the festival in the local area. It verges on an insult to use the venue in the local community but not support that community to either participate in a cultural activity or benefit through the promotion of the event.

While the venues at Ephesus may offer a wonderful enhancement to the performance of fine music the audience sometimes may detract from the experience. The last occasion I attended a concert at Ephesus the conductor of a world-famous orchestra did not feel obliged to give an encore. And who can blame him when a noticeable segment of the audience who appeared to hail from the ‘better’ suburbs of Izmir seemed more intent on playing with their mobile phones than enjoying the music. I had to refrain from an altercation with a young festival organiser who thought it might be a good idea to perch himself next to me on the opening bars of the first piece to take a photo. At my protest he indicated his official status by pointing to his festival ID dangling around his neck. My ferocious glance at his rather expensive camera must have given him cause for second thoughts but only inasmuch as he relocated to bother some other concertgoer with his ‘official duties’. Perhaps it is for his guidance that Biletix has reminded concertgoers on their website that;

“Children under age 7 are not allowed. 7 Year olds and over are required to have a ticket.”

“No cameras or any type of recording devices are allowed into the event area.”

If you do attend the concerts and encounter such behaviour act early and decisively to ensure your and everyone else’s enjoyment.

Despite the obstacles for local people and visitors to Selçuk in obtaining tickets and clear information the festival is well worth attending. The festival is an important event in the cultural life of the area and should be accessible to all music lovers. Selçuk is well positioned for concertgoers who want a short taxi ride or leisurely stroll to the venue and offers a range of excellent accommodation.  ''Brian Crocker''