Into Smaug’s Lair with a horsehair bow: Charlie Siem and the Tekfen Philharmonic

Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances and Tchaikovsky’s cruel challenge: Cornucopia’s Istanbul Festival reviews continue at Aya İrini

By John Shakespeare Dyson | May 27, 2018

I never thought I would ever hear Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major played by an old Etonian, let alone in a Byzantine church in İstanbul, but that is exactly what happened on Friday evening (May 25) at the second of the concerts I attended during the 46th İKSV Istanbul...
Posted in Music and Performing Arts, Classical Music

Roll over Rachmaninov… after the mellow langour the fireworks begin

Yekwon Sunwoo and the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra: a heart-warming first night of the Istanbul Festival

By John Shakespeare Dyson | May 24, 2018

The 46th İstanbul Music Festival, organised by the İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), kicked off with a concert at the Lütfi Kırdar Concert Hall last night (Wednesday, May 23). Once again I was prompted to reflect on how far we have come since I first attended a classical...
Posted in Music and Performing Arts, Classical Music

In the grand Italian manner

A new book on the extraordinary story of the great Italian architects of late-Ottoman Istanbul

By Monica Fritz | May 13, 2018

I was first introduced to Turkey on a road trip with Paolo Girardelli back in 1993. Starting from Rome we drove to Istanbul and took the famous Truva ferry to Trabzon in quest of abandoned Georgian churches. Together with other excited friends we climbed the hills and trekked through tea...
Posted in Architecture, Books


Didem Pekün's haunting film elegy

By Julie Witford | May 7, 2018

Two art film directors from Turkey were represented at this year’s Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival in the Scottish Borders: Didem Pekün, with Araf (UK premiere), and Nazlı Dinçel, with Shape of a Surface. Araf follows the diary of a ghostly character, Nayia, who returns to Bosnia for the 22nd...
Posted in Film

Back to the wall: Belkıs Balpınar and the evolution of the modern kilim

By Monica Fritz | May 6, 2018

Are kilims artisan throw rugs or woven art? No one is better placed to answer this than Belkis Balpınar. Former director of the  Vakiflar Carpet and Kilim Museum in Istanbul, she has continued for decades to champion the Turkish flatweave and to raise it, literally, to another dimension. Belkıs Balpınar's...
Posted in Contemporary Art, Textiles

Tweet t’woo

Mika Tajima's digital emotional mesmerizes Monica Fritz

By Monica Fritz | April 23, 2018

Well, who would guess that a visit to the office would be a fun way to spend Children's Day! At weekends, Borusan's offices, housed in the Yusuf Ziya Pasha's Pavillion, morphs into the Bosusan Contemporry Art Gallery, with not a paper clip in sight. The newest exhibitor is the New...

Richard Burton in Damascus

A new exhibition at Orleans House Gallery

By Roger Williams | April 19, 2018

This small painting by Frederic Leighton of Sir Richard Burton’s house in Damascus is one of the delights of a new display about the diplomat and traveller at Orleans House Gallery in west London. The aristocratic Palladian villa now holds the Richmond upon Thames Borough Art Collection, and Burton memorabilia...

Formidable feast

Javier Perianes brings bravura, moodiness and passion to Chopin, Debussy and de Falla at SMM’s concert hall, the Seed

By John Shakespeare Dyson | April 11, 2018

The Spanish pianist Javier Perianes arrived in Istanbul on Tuesday April 10 hotfoot from a lunchtime recital at the Wigmore Hall in London the previous day and is to be heartily congratulated for demonstrating that the lyricism for which he has been justly praised cannot be compromised by being shaken...
Posted in Music and Performing Arts, Classical Music

Sultan’s photos finally published

London Book Fair 2018 round-up

By Roger Williams | April 11, 2018

This photograph of a ferry carrying visitors to Furness Abbey in Cumbria comes from British–Ottoman Relations through the Yıldız Palace Photography Collection, launched at Olympia on the first day of the London Book Fair yesterday. The photographs were collected by Sultan Abdulhamid II (1876–1909) and are published by the Sultan...

Babylon’s Hanging Gardens come to the Penn

A Gala Night celebrates the reopening of the famous Middle East Galleries.

By Roger Williams | April 11, 2018

The Penn Museum in Philadelphia has a Gala Night, billed as An Evening on the Fertile Crescent, on Saturday, April 14 to celebrate the opening of its refurbished Middle East Galleries.  “For one night only," runs the invitation, “experience the celebrated architecture, gardens, and fountains of the Penn Museum, dressed...

Cruel fate

Shipping nightmare for an historic yalı

By John Scott | April 8, 2018

Of all the houses on the Bosphorus that had to be struck by the Vitaspirit, a 74,000-ton, 225 metre cargo ship yesterday afternoon, did it have to be the Hekimbaşı Yalı? And not only that but the most historic part of the house. Every creaking floorboard, every inch of its...
Posted in News

Portrait of an artist: Mike Berg

By Monica Fritz | March 30, 2018

Mike Berg arrived in Istanbul shortly after the 1999 earthquake. However, our conversation started with a passionate description of his ranch and the peacefulness he felt in total silence. Mike Berg, gouache, 2018 A father of four and newly a grandfather, Berg delights in moving between his three worlds, a...
Posted in Contemporary Art, Design

Where feelings fly low

Hale Tanger’s ‘Under’ and other highlights on Alserkal Avenue

By Tim Cornwell | March 24, 2018

The first impression of Under, the Dubai art installation created by the Turkish artist Hale Tenger, and her long-time collaborator musician Serdar Ateşer, is that someone has put a tree in a box. The box in question lies in Alserkal Avenue, a striking but treeless zone of leading Middle Eastern...
Posted in Contemporary Art, Exhibitions

The Fluidity of Memory

By Katie Nadworny | March 16, 2018

Katie Nadworny & Alison Luntz, 'Dreamspace 1', 2016, Pigment Fine Art Print (35mm), 50x70 cm As Cornucopia’s Online Arts Editor, I spend much of my time visiting and reading and writing about exhibitions all over Istanbul. But I am an artist as well–  a photographer working in analogue, with old...

Praise for The Palace Lady’s Summerhouse

By Cornucopia | March 11, 2018

Congratulations to Patricia Daunt. The Palace Lady’s Summerhouse and other inside stories from a vanishing Turkey has gathered two more glowing reviews from writers impressed by the author’s rare combination of passion and precision. Patricia Daunt has spent ‘most of a lifetime exploring Turkey – as walker, rider, knower of...
Posted in Books

Portrait of an artist: İnci Eviner

Monica Fritz meets a pioneer for whom ‘creativity is power’

By Monica Fritz | March 8, 2018

A star in the international contemporary art world, İnci Eviner has done much to transform Turkish contemporary art. She spoke to me of her great hope for the future as we drank tea in her high-ceilinged loft studio, hidden in the back streets of Hasköy on the Golden Horn. If...

Silent witness

Üsküdar’s ancient planes

By Monica Fritz | March 4, 2018

Deep in Üsküdar, up on a hill overlooking the sea next to the famous barracks where Florence Nightingale nursed the sick and the dying of another pointless war, lies the Baroque Selimiye Mosque and its garden, now stark and into the pre-spring pruning season. John Freely describes the garden as...

Welcome to Hampstead’s careful lokanta

By Andrew Finkel and Monica Fritz | February 26, 2018

Turkish cuisine is enjoying a new wave of popularity in Britain but for the last decade residents of London’s Hampstead have been nurturing deep affection for a modest but careful ‘lokanta’ at the entrance to the Heath. Zara takes its name after the small district in the eastern province of...

The unexpected Kamikaze 1989

The !f Istanbul Independent Film Festival delivers surprises

By Katie Nadworny | February 22, 2018

This week, I walked into a movie blind. The !f Istanbul Independent Film Festival is ongoing through this weekend, and I’ve been determined to catch as many film screenings as I can fit into my schedule. This time, I showed up at the cinema alone and in ignorance. I hadn’t...

Ergun Çağatay (1937–2018)

By Cornucopia | February 17, 2018

It is with utmost sadness that we must report the loss this week of Ergun Çağatay, one of Turkey's great photographers (portrait by Ali Bayram). Ergun Çağatay captured numerous iconic photographs of the Bosphorus and Anatolia, but his most celebrated legacy will be his magnum opus, The Turkic Speaking Peoples,...
Current Events