September 13, 2011

‘Bach in Istanbul Opens with Five Bachs

If everyone presented the music of Johann Sebastian Bach like Hakan Erdoğan, the old German Baroque master would be on the tip of everyone’s tongue.


Erdoğan has a way of presenting music of any genre and giving it a new lease of life. His ninth annual “Bach in İstanbul,” running through Sept. 23, takes the stiffness out of Baroque and puts the hipness in.

Part of his formula is putting on his concerts in unusual places, such as cisterns, jails, boats and even places to celebrate the full moon. His most recent series was “Jazz in Ramadan” in Topkapı Palace’s courtyard. For “Bach in İstanbul” he’s using three venues in Beyoğlu: two churches and Garajistanbul -- not that offbeat, but definitely not stuffy concert halls. Another strategy is finding interesting international artists who represent the authentic and/or take the spirit of the authentic and twist it around to create something entirely unique. Even his printed programs are not the norm; they’re more like an art school project.

The series of seven concerts comprising “Bach in İstanbul” began on Sept. 8 and 9 at St. Antoine Church and Santa Maria Church, respectively, featuring the European Union Baroque Orchestra (EUBO). This is no ordinary orchestra. It’s actually an educational program founded in 1985 and funded by members of the European Union. EUBO is based in Oxford, UK, and Echternacht, Luxembourg, and was created specifically as a project intended to tour for six months. Practically speaking, it’s not only a bridge for music conservatory students to use as a springboard into the professional world, but it’s intrinsically a cultural ambassadorship for the European Union. Its musical focus is solely Baroque performance practice, a style that represents the European music of 300 years ago and a specific discipline that is often overlooked by conservatories. The members of this orchestra put aside their modern instruments and invested in Baroque versions for a new career path.

Read more on Zaman: ‘Bach in Istanbul Opens with Five Bachs

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