The Istanbul Jazz Festival, the youngest of İKSV’s festivals, has been held every year since 1994. Taking place in the first half of July, the festival features jazz, pop, rock and world music performances in different venues in Istanbul. The festival celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013.
İKSV chose to build this festival around jazz music because it believes jazz is one of the most innovative musical genres – open to new ideas, inclusive and accessible. Accordingly, İKSV organises a broad-spectrum event that not only brings together music lovers and musicians, but also supports the work of jazz musicians in Turkey and encourages new productions.
The Istanbul Jazz Festival features classical and modern jazz, Latin and Nordic jazz, works combining electronic music and jazz, and other music categories, such as rock, pop, reggae, funk and world music. Thanks to this diversity, the Istanbul Jazz Festival provides audiences new opportunities for discovery. At the same time, with its daring approach to venue selection, the festival reaches beyond traditional concert halls to Istanbul’s historical sites, streets and avenues, trams and ferries, so as to reach a wider audience.
All these activities have helped to put Istanbul on the global jazz map and established a benchmark for the music sector and similar festivals in Turkey, which have been developing rapidly in recent years.
One of the primary goals of the Istanbul Jazz Festival has been to encourage the production of jazz music in Turkey and contribute to its promotion abroad. Through such special series as the “European Jazz Club” and “Encounters with Masters”, the festival brings together wellknown musicians from Turkey and around the world. In contrast, the “Young Jazz” concert series, launched in 2003, gives amateur jazz musicians a new platform and the chance to perform at an international jazz festival.
Each year, the festival attracts around 50,000 people to more than 30 concerts held at various historical venues of Istanbul, such as the Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre, Hagia Eirene Museum, Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Esma Sultan Mansion, as well as at outdoor venues around the city. Considered to be a leading jazz festival in Europe, the Istanbul Jazz Festival is one of the first members of the International Jazz Festivals Organisations (IJFO). In 2002, the Istanbul Jazz Festival began to present a Lifetime Achievement Award every year.