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x0x The International Istanbul Festival

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  • Turkish Radio San Francisco
    x0x The International Istanbul Festival By Sener Köksümer Mankinds search for the beautiful is as old as human history itself. There are beautiful cities in
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 29 11:12 PM
      x0x The International Istanbul Festival

      By Sener Köksümer

      Mankinds search for the beautiful is as old as human history itself. There
      are beautiful cities in countries all round the world, beautiful either
      because nature was generous in her gifts to them or by human efforts.
      These have been a focal point of attraction for both the countries they
      belong to and others. One such city is Istanbul, famed for both its
      magnificent natural setting and its rich heritage from diverse different

      Istanbul is one of the most outstanding cities in the world, and it has
      been occupied and fought over on many occasions. The earliest settlement
      here was established on the shore of the Golden Horn in 648 BC by the
      Megaran king Byzas, after whom it was named Byzantium. Centuries later,
      during the reign of the Roman emperor Marcus the city became known as
      Antion, and when the Emperor Constantine made the city capital of the
      Roman Empire, it was renamed Constantinople, also known as Stin-Polis.

      Constantine believed that the number seven was lucky, and so built his
      city on seven hills and surrounded it by walls with seven gates. Seven
      prominent men were brought from Rome to settle here, and seven armies each
      consisting of seven divisions were founded. Istanbul resisted numerous
      sieges before falling to Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453.

      For a long time the name Constantinople was preserved, and although the
      name Islambol was introduced in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was the
      vernacular name Stin-Polis which was eventually adopted in the name

      Istanbul attracted large numbers of curious travellers and artists over
      the centuries. Historians came to collect material, poets and painters for
      inspiration, and musicians and actors to work.

      Until the 20th century, however, performances of theatre, opera and music
      were largely restricted to the upper classes and palace circles. Only
      gradually did art and cultural events become available to a broader
      public, a trend which gained momentum with arts festivals which began in
      Europe after the Second World War and became widespread in the 1960s. The
      late Nejat Eczacýbaþý, Turkish industrialist, decided to launch Turkeys
      own arts festival, and so the Istanbul Festival was born.

      The first Istanbul Festival was held between 15 June and 15 July in 1973,
      the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic. From
      this first small-scale festival with a modest budget the event has grown
      over the past 26 years into a multiple festival of huge proportions, the
      result of a passion for the beautiful, dedication and hard work. In 1977
      the Istanbul Festival was accepted as a member of the Association of
      European Festivals. Today the Istanbul Cultural and Art Foundation
      organises five different parallel events: the International Istanbul Music
      Festival (since 1973), the Istanbul Film Festival (since 1982), the
      International Istanbul Theatre Festival (since 1989), the International
      Istanbul Jazz Festival (since 1994) and the International Istanbul
      Biennial Festival (since 1994).

      Over the past 26 years the Music Festival has hosted 31,500 performers in
      1700 events from 49 countries, with audiences totalling over three
      million. The Film Festival has presented 1850 films from 60 countries,
      hosted seven hundred guest cinema artists, and attracted audiences of more
      than two million over its 17 years. The Theatre Festival has brought 155
      plays from 16 countries performed by around 1200 actors to audiences
      totalling nearly a quarter million in 10 years. The Jazz Festival has
      brought 1050 musicians from 94 countries to audiences of over a quarter
      million in five years. And the Istanbul Biennial has presented 910 works
      of arts from 52 countries, hosted 464 artists, and attracted over 170,000

      When setbacks can occur in the organisation of even a single concert, the
      track record of Istanbul Festival in bringing thousands of events from all
      over the world is all the more remarkable. The festival budget today is
      enormous, and only 22% is met by box-office revenues, the remainder being
      provided by sponsors and public funds amounting to 66% and 12%

      The Istanbul Festival also contributes to the countrys tourism. In 1966,
      for example, 5000 guests from abroad came to the Music Festival alone.
      Another function of the festival is to enable Turkish artists to see and
      hear celebrated artists from around the world. In all these respects, the
      Istanbul Festival is a major cultural event of importance not just for
      Istanbul but Turkey as a whole.

      Sener Köksümer is a researcher and writer
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