Istanbul Jazz Festival 2021

Istanbul Jazz Festival 2021 Kicks off on 1 September

 Istanbul Jazz Festival is preparing to spread the excitement of jazz across the city in September.

Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and sponsored by Garanti BBVA for the past 24 years, the 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival kicks off on 1 September and continues until 24 September.

With close to 40 concerts and a variety of side events held in outdoor venues, the festival is bringing back the days when we will once again experience the city of Istanbul through jazz.   

Taking place with the support of the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the festival will host important names such as the four-time Grammy Award winner “Africa’s premier diva” Angélique Kidjo; renowned Turkish pop star Kenan Doğulu who brings his competency in pop music to jazz with the project İhtimaller; the European jazz legend Stefano Di Battista with his album Morriconne Stories dedicated to Ennio Morricone; one of the most innovative pop musicians of Turkey, Mabel Matiz collaborating with the Dutch musician and producer Niels Bross in a special project for the festival; last year’s Grammy nominee Altın Gün who makes the world move to the rhythms of Anatolia; Karsu who brings to stage with songs the story of Ahmet Ertegün, the inspiring founder of Atlantic Records; and BBC Introducing Artist of the Year 2020, Arlo Parks, who has performed at major music festivals such as Glastonbury and Latitude.

This year the free concerts of Jazz in the Parks will again bring green and jazz together. A new series of events will be the #IstanbulBirSahne [Istanbul Is A Stage] at the Festival concerts organised in cooperation with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Festival audiences of all ages are invited to the concerts which will be held free-of-charge. Yet another popular event of the festival, the Night Out will spread across the different stages in Beykoz Kundura with a special presentation.

Marking its 19th edition, the Young Jazz project of the festival grows stronger this year by incorporating the Mehmet Uluğ Fund established to honour the memory of renowned music professional Mehmet Uluğ whom we lost in 2013. With the support of the Mehmet Uluğ Fund, Young Jazz will discover the young, talented and promising musicians in Turkey to promote their creativity and career development and enable them to make their voices heard across the world.

IKSV Tulip Card holders can purchase their tickets as of Tuesday, 6 July at discounted prices. Following the priority sale for Tulip Card holders, the festival tickets will be on sale on Friday, 9 July.

The 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival programme was announced on Tuesday morning, 22 June with an online press conference. General Director of IKSV Görgün Taner, Garanti BBVA Executive Vice President Işıl Akdemir Evlioğlu and Istanbul Jazz Festival Director Harun İzer participated in the conference as speakers. 

Speaking at the conference, General Director of IKSV Görgün Taner said, “We have once again realised what a primary requirement arts and culture is and that it should always be prioritised, after the last one and a half years that will be remembered as a unique time period. As life is going back to ‘normal’ we cannot wait to get back together at concerts. We are working to revive Istanbul’s culture and arts scene with our festivals. The 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival will offer a rich and varied programme all around Istanbul’s parks and open-air venues, including free concerts that will be open to visitors from all ages. We will remember, together, how good music is for us. I thank the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism and festival sponsor GarantiBBVA in addition to other supporters, concert attendees and all artists that are a part of the festival.” Görgün Taner also remembered Hasan Saltık, a valuable cultural person who has recently passed away.

jazzfest21 lineup

Garanti BBVA Vice President Işıl Akdemir Evlioğlu stated that they are happy to support the Istanbul Jazz Festival for 24 years and said, “Due to the pandemic, we have been away from live performances and concerts for a while, and we all missed the lively and musical state of our city. We are very excited to watch concerts again in open air venues in accordance with the pandemic measures.”

Evlioğlu also drew attention to the accessible culture and knowledge production, gender equality and sustainability issues, which they considered while structuring the festival. Remarking that the Jazz in Parks concerts, which are organized free of charge as part of the festival, pave the way for all segments of the society to access cultural events, Evlioğlu stated that the festival, which is also a member of the Keychange program that promotes gender equality in the music industry, has already fulfilled its goal of achieving a 50-50 gender balance in its programs by 2022 minding the issue that Garanti BBVA reiterates and underline at every opportunity. Evlioğlu also mentioned that it is a vital issue that the festival aims to reduce its carbon footprint by causing as little damage to the environment as possible.

Istanbul Jazz Festival Director Harun İzer explained that the festival was being planned for September – rather than its usual slot in July -– due to considerations of current circumstances. “Despite the difficult conditions, IKSV will organise the Istanbul Jazz Festival in cooperation with performance artists and other cultural workers and help revive culture and arts activities in the city and bring musicians once again to the stage and to their listeners.”

About COVID-19 measures

All concerts of the 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival will be held in outdoor venues in compliance with public health measures against COVID-19. For the measures to be implemented at the festival sites and the COVID-19 Activity Guide, please refer to

Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award

The 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to singer Tülay German.

Having started singing at the age of four, German made a name for herself as a jazz singer between 1960 and 1962. In 1962, she helped Erdem Buri realise his vision for adapting foreign language songs to Turkish lyrics, performing Turkish Folk Music pieces in polyphony and with western instruments without disturbing their melodic and rhythmic structure, composing new pieces based on Turkish music with Turkish lyrics. In 1964, she filled the record Burçak Tarlası [Vetch Field], which is considered the first ‘hit’ of ‘polyphonic’ Turkish Popular Music. At the beginning of 1966 she went to Paris to make records. She filled ten records in French and appeared in radio and television shows, gave concerts and participated in various festivals in France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Tunisia, Morocco, the Netherlands and Brazil. In the USA, she released the album Tract, composed especially for German by İlhan Mimaroğlu. The album she released in France in Turkish received the Charles Cros Academy 1981 Plaque Grand Prize. Her latest album is Nâzım Hikmet’e Saygı [Ode to Nâzım Hikmet]. In 1987, she retired from the stages with a concert she gave in the Netherlands. German still lives in Paris.

The stars of the festival

Anqélique Kidjo “An African Odyssey”

World tour accompanied by rhythms

Singer, actress, writer and activist Angelique Kidjo is a four-time Grammy Award winner and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador who has recorded soundtracks for eighteen movies including Lion King and Streetfighter. With her resplendent costumes, dazzling energy, impressive voice and the rich melodic structures in her music, Angélique Kidjo will perform at The Marmara Esma Sultan Mansion on Monday, 6 September. Embracing African melodies, soul, funk, rap, samba, reggae, jazz and blues, the concert will take the audience on a journey which will begin in Africa, visit different places like the Sahara and London, and leave them on the serene shores of France.

Stefano Di Battista “More Morricone” // Ferit Odman Quintet

 Morricone night in Istanbul

Stefano Di Battista dedicates his album Morricone Stories with 12 songs released this spring to the orchestra conductor and trumpeter Ennio Morricone whom he crossed paths with in the defining moment of his career. On the festival stage, Battista and his band will host Morricone by performing the soundtracks he composed. The opening act of the night, which will take place Tuesday evening on 14 September at Swissotel The Bosphorus, is entrusted to one of the popular names of the Turkish jazz scene Ferit Odman and his quintet. 

Kenan Doğulu “İhtimaller”

Swing, dynamism of jazz and Kenan Doğulu

Kenan Doğulu, who has attained remarkable achievements in his 28 years long music career, is back on stage after a long and compulsory break with a brand new concert presenting the first jazz project of his career “İhtimaller” [Possibilities] which met the audiences in 2016.

Featuring Ercüment Orkut, Can Çankaya and Bulut Gülen’s jazz arrangements of various hit songs that the artist presented the music lovers over the years, the concert will be held Wednesday evening on 15 September at Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-air Theatre.

Mabel Matiz and Niels Broos 

A concert dedicated to the festival

The festival brings together a key figure in the transformation of pop music in Turkey over the recent years the singer and songwriter Mabel Matiz and one of today’s most creative musicians in a field ranging from jazz to electronic music the Dutch keyboard player and producer Niels Broos. In this special project dedicated to the festival, Mabel Matiz will perform his most loved songs while Niels Broos accompanies him with dynamic synth-pop arrangements and a surprise group of musicians. The concert of the duo, who will be on stage together for the first time, will be held Friday evening on 24 September at Cemil Topuzlu Harbiye Open-air Theatre

Arlo Parks // Geeva Flava 

From poet to indie pop star: Arlo Parks 

BBC Introducing Artist of the Year 2020, Arlo Parks, who has performed at major music festivals such as Glastonbury and Latitude, will be on stage Friday evening on 10 September at Beykoz Kundura. Using poetry as her song-writing compass, Parks wishes to find universal words, merge them with notes and transcend all language barriers through emotions. The same evening on stage will also be the winner of 2016 Young Jazz competition Geeva Flava who crosses the boundaries between genres. With its support to the project, +1 will add a plus to the pleasure of jazz lovers.

Altın Gün // Evdeki Saat

Altın Gün the band that brought Anatolian Rock to the Grammys is in the festival!

Making music by merging classic Turkish Anatolian rock songs and folksongs with original psychedelic and funk tunes, Altın Gün has to date performed at festivals such as Le Guess Who?, Beaches Brew, Lowlands, Best Kept Secret, Montreal, and Paléo. Grammy nominee Altın Gün will be on stage Thursday evening on 16 September at Vadi İstanbul with its dance-inducing repertoire including “Caney”, “Goca Dünya”, “Halkalı Şeker”, “Şeker Oğlan” and “Kaymakamın Kızları”. The evening will open with one of the loved bands of the local independent scene Evdeki Saat.  

Karsu Plays Atlantic Records

Listen to the story of Atlantic Records with Karsu’s songs

Paying homage to the music that has been a source of inspiration for her, the singer and pianist Karsu will be on stage with the “Karsu Plays Atlantic Records” project, performing the legendary works of Atlantic Records founded by one of the most important figures in the history of record labels the songwriter Ahmet Ertegün. At the concert to be held Monday night, on 20 September at Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open-air Theatre, Karsu will cover the hit songs of stars such as Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, The Bee Gees, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and Cher.

Nitai Hershkovits // Eylül Ergül Quartet

A night of jazz blended with folk and progressive music

Nitai Hershkovits, whose talents were discovered at a young age, became famous in the jazz scene with his performances with the legendary jazz bassist Avishai Cohen in Tel Aviv. Hershkovits and his band is meeting the festival audience Thursday evening on 2 September at Feriye. The opening act of the night will be Eylül Ergül; the young artist noted for her vocal talents will be accompanied by her quartet with veteran musicians Serdar Barçın, Ozan Musluoğlu and Ferit Odman.

Melike Şahin 

A melodic ‘Salve’ made of hope and melancholy 

Songwriter and musician known for her original style in the local scene, Melike Şahin has performed with BaBa ZuLa for many years in more than 250 concerts across the world. She began her solo career in 2017. At the Cannes Film Festival, she gave an unforgettable concert performing songs from the soundtrack of Djam. With her successive singles “Deli Kan”, “Sevmek Suçsa Suçluyum”, “Tutuşmuş Beraber”, “Kimin Izdırabı”, “Kara Orman” and the album Merhem (Salve) she bolstered her place in the music scene. In the scope of the Istanbul Jazz Festival, Melike Şahin will give a concert of her debut album at Göztepe Özgürlük Park Stage on Wednesday, 8 September.

Night Out at Beykoz Kundura

18 September Saturday, Beykoz Kundura

This year, a variety of stages located inside Beykoz Kundura will host the Night Out which in previous editions has created an atmosphere of “festival within the festival” across the beautiful venues of Kadıköy. With its support to the project, +1 will add a plus to the pleasure of jazz lovers. Night Out will present two of the most successful names of “jazz and beyond” in Turkey Alp Ersönmez and Çağrı Sertel; along with new and interesting figures of the independent scene including Dilan Balkay and Kâzım. Realised as part of “Vitrin: Showcase for Contemporary Music from Turkey” in collaboration with Kundura Sahne, the concerts will take place at Beykoz Kundura which will host the Vitrin Panels the same day.

The festival spreads across the city with free concerts in the parks

Jazz in the Parks 

The festival’s Jazz in the Parks concerts that bring jazz and green together will invite its followers of all ages to the various parks of Istanbul. Extending over five days and five different parks of Istanbul, these free concerts will feature names from the local scene and performances by Young Jazz finalists, along with Fainscmitz who will bring Vienna breezes to the parks, and the American singer and musician Lucy Woodward.

Jazz in the Parks concerts will be organised in Maçka Demokrasi Park, Habitat Park (Şişli), Fenerbahçe Park (Kadıköy), Beylikdüzü Yaşam Vadisi and Sanatçılar Park (Beşiktaş). The program of the Jazz in the Parks will be announced in August. 

  • 1 September Wednesday, Maçka Demokrasi Park, Şişli
  • 3 September Friday, Habitat Park, Şişli
  • 4 September Saturday, Fenerbahçe Park, Kadıköy
  • 18 September Saturday, Beylikdüzü Yaşam Vadisi
  • 19 September Sunday, Sanatçılar Park, Beşiktaş

#IstanbulBirSahne at the Festival in collaboration of İBB, Kültür A.Ş. and Istanbul Jazz Festival

This year the festival launches a new series of free events with the contributions of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) ve Kültür A.Ş. A total of 15 ensembles selected from among the applicants to #İstanbulBirSahne [IstanbulisaStage], which was realised by İBB with the aim of supporting musicians who are going through difficult days due to the pandemic and organising free concerts that will intersect with the daily lives of Istanbulites, will meet with music lovers of Istanbul through the festival in Maçka Demokrasi Park in the scope of “#IstanbulBirSahne at the Festival” events. The concerts to be held on a stage installed in the park will be accompanied by events such as talks, meetings, free events for children, record and book fairs. Through the activities to be organised, the Maçka Demokrasi Park will turn into a meeting spot that brings together festival audiences of all ages.

Among the artists who will participate in #IstanbulisaStage events are, Ayşe Tütüncü Quartet, Batu Şallıel “The Way”, Bîdar, Cazzip Project, Cemre Necefbaş Quartet, Ceyda Özbaşarel Band, Deniz Taşar & Adem Gülşen, Erkan Zeki Ar Quartet, Sibel Demir Quintet, Şenay Lambaoğlu, The Cousin Quintet and The Kites along with various other names. The detailed programme of the events and concert dates will be announced in the upcoming days.

Creative industries come together in “Vitrin – Showcase for Contemporary Music from Turkey

“Vitrin: Showcase for Contemporary Music from Turkey will be held for the fifth time this year on 18 September with the support of +1. Realised with the objective of enabling the successful musicians and ensembles of the local scene to reach wider audiences, Vitrin has to date supported many bands in their international tours. This year, Vitrin will appeal to different fields through the various panels it will hold bringing together the music sector with other creative industries. Organised in collaboration with Kundura Sahne and hosted by Beykoz Kundura on 18 September, Vitrin panels will focus on the use of music in film and game industries, sustainable festivals, record labels, agents, artists and institutions of the sector. Pioneering organisations and opinion leaders from different sectors will meet at these panels and discuss the new developments and trends in this field. The exhibition titled “Memory of Kundura: The World Within a Factory” will also be open to visitors free-of-charge on event days.

This year the panels of Vitrin can both be attended in person and also watched live on IKSV YouTube channel. The program of panels to be organised as part of “Vitrin: Showcase for Contemporary Music from Turkey”, which is an international promotion and networking event dedicated to contemporary music from Turkey, will be announced in the upcoming days.

Moreover, the series of concerts titled “Night Out at Beykoz Kundura” featuring six artists, which will be hosted by Beykoz Kundura in the evening of 18 September, will later be broadcast online for the viewing of the directors of the world’s foremost festivals and events. Thus, a large number of international music professionals primarily in Europe and across the globe will have the chance to get to know the music bands in Turkey that perform at the Vitrin concerts. With its support to the project, +1 will add a plus to the pleasure of jazz lovers.

Young Jazz grows stronger with the Mehmet Uluğ Fund!

Launched by the Istanbul Jazz Festival to provide a platform within the festival for amateur or emerging young musicians and ensembles in Turkey, the Young Jazz concerts will be organised for the 19th time.

This year, the Young Jazz project grows stronger by incorporating the Mehmet Uluğ Fund created to honour the memory of music professional Mehmet Uluğ whom we lost in 2013. With the support of the Mehmet Uluğ Fund, Young Jazz will discover the young, talented and promising musicians in Turkey to promote their creativity and career development and enable them to make their voices heard across the world.

Supported by the Mehmet Uluğ Fund, for the first time this year the names selected for the Young Jazz concerts will participate in a special album to be released on digital platforms in collaboration with Sony Music Turkey and IKSV. One original piece of each selected band will be recorded in a professional studio setting under the supervision of producers and mentors, expert in their respective fields. The recordings, including the mix and mastering stages, will take place at Babajim Istanbul Studios. The Young Jazz album which will be produced for the first time this year is planned to be released in November. Besides the album recording, the selected bands will receive a monetary prize to assist in their career development and will be introduced to music professionals in line with their individual careers. In the upcoming future, it is also planned to create a variety of opportunities such as funding the access of young artists to international shows and festivals. In addition, Ahmet Uluğ, one of the founders of Pozitif and a music industry professional, will take part in the Young Jazz Selection Committee on behalf of the Mehmet Uluğ Fund.

The six ensembles to be selected for Young Jazz will be identified at the evaluation concerts to be held at Salon IKSV on 14 August. The selected bands will perform during the festival at the Jazz in the Parks concerts. The Young Jazz Selection Committee consists of music professional Ahmet Uluğ, musician Aycan Teztel, musician Cenk Erdoğan, music writer Leyla Diana Gücük, musician Kalben, musician Selen Gülün, musician Volkan Öktem, radio programmer Dr. Hakan Rauf Tüfekçi, writer Yekta Kopan, Managing Director of Sony Music Entertainment Turkey Özden Bora and Istanbul Jazz Festival Director Harun İzer. The Evaluation Concert will be broadcast on IKSV’s YouTube channel. 

Istanbul-born businessperson and music professional Mehmet Uluğ, who passed away in 2013, was the founder of a number of significant institutions including Pozitif, which is one of Turkey’s leading companies in the field of festival and live performance organisation; Babylon, an important arts and culture venue of Istanbul; and the record label Doublemoon which has released records of global success.

Deadline for applications to Young Jazz is Monday, 2 August. For detailed information:

Istanbul Jazz Festival events for children


YouTube video series with Deniz Taşar

The new video series created in collaboration of Istanbul Jazz Festival and IKSV Alt Kat with the support of the United States Embassy begins in July on IKSV YouTube channel.

In the series comprising six episodes, the musician Deniz Taşar will share her own musical adventure while conversing with guest artists on a variety of subjects ranging from improvisation to the relationship of music with other branches of art, from performance to the making of simple instruments. Surprise performances await the viewers in every episode. There will also be playlists related to the content of each episode of the series which will capture the interest of music lovers of all ages. The series to be launched in July will also be accessible through audio description on IKSV Alt Kat website.

Colourful festival workshops for children

A variety of children’s workshops will be organised by IKSV Alt Kat with the support of the United States Embassy. The details of the free-of-charge workshops geared towards different age groups and held as part of the Jazz in the Parks and “Istanbul Is a Stage” events will be announced in July.

Istanbul Jazz Festival continues to support gender equality in the music industry

The Istanbul Jazz Festival shares the idea that festivals can take important steps towards sustainability and ecological transformation in light of the “Arts and Culture for Ecological Transformation” report published by İKSV at the beginning of this year. In this context, the festival decided to make various arrangements to reduce the ecological footprint of its activities. As a first step, preparations are underway to evaluate our environmental impacts and to eliminate or reduce our negative impacts in line with İKSV’s targets in this regard in the next three years. In addition, starting from this year’s festival, studies will be carried out on waste management, use of recyclable materials, reducing unnecessary resource consumption and pursuing more energy efficient ways.

The Istanbul Jazz Festival continues to pursue the targets of the Keychange programme working towards gender equality in the international music industry. The Keychange programme, which includes the pledge to ensure a 50:50 gender balance in music festival programs by 2022, is a UK based pioneering international initiative that encourages gender equality in the music sector. Currently there are over 400 festivals across the world that are part of the Keychange network which the Istanbul Jazz Festival has joined in 2019. According to Keychange targets, Istanbul Jazz Festival provides a rate of 51% in its programme this year. This rate is measured as having at least one female or gender minority member in the music ensembles in the festival programme.

Festival Tickets 

Following priority sales at discounted prices for Tulip Card holders on 6 July, the festival tickets will be on sale as of 10.30 on Friday, 9 July at IKSV box office and through There will be a limited number of discounted student tickets for every concert.  

Black Tulip Card holders may purchase their tickets on Tuesday, 6 July; White Tulip Card holders on Wednesday, 7 July; and Red and Yellow Tulip Card holders on Thursday, 8 July as of 10.30.

Tulip Card holders whose memberships contribute to all the activities realised by IKSV throughout the year have priority access to Istanbul Jazz Festival concert tickets at discounted prices. Black and White Tulip Card holders can buy their tickets at a 25% discount through with an option to select seats. Red and Yellow Tulip Card holders can purchase their tickets at a 15% discount.

Between 9-15 July, 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival tickets can be purchased with 20% discount to all Garanti BBVA credit cards.

Supporters of the 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival

Festival Sponsor of the 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival is once again Garanti BBVA. “Vitrin: Showcase for Contemporary Music from Turkey” Series is sponsored by +1.

The festival is organised with the support of the performance sponsor with highest contribution +1, the automotive sponsor Volvo Car Turkey and the valuable contributions of Anadolu Efes.

The 28th Istanbul Jazz Festival also receives support from the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Beyoğlu Municipality, Beşiktaş Municipality, Beylikdüzü Municipality, Kadıköy Municipality, United States Embassy in Ankara, Austrian Cultural Forum, Italian Cultural Institute, Netherlands consulate-general in Istanbul, and Şişli Municipality. We thank Beykoz Kundura, Kundura Sahne, Feriye and Swissotel The Bosphorus for their valuable cooperation.

All festivals of İKSV are supported by İKSV Founding Sponsor Eczacıbaşı Group, İKSV Hotel Sponsor The Marmara Group, İKSV Insurance Sponsor Zurich Sigorta, Digital Content Security Service Sponsor Digiguardians, Occupational Health and Safety Consultancy Plaza OSGB and Service Sponsors GFK, AGC Yazılım, Uzman CRM, Loodos Teknoloji and OMD.

The festival campaign

This year the Istanbul Jazz Festival campaign was created by designers Talip Özer and Yaşam Zelal Tüzün led by the Design Advisory Board comprised of Uğurcan Ataoğlu, Pemra Ataç and Arkın Kahyaoğlu. Inspired by the outdoor areas of the city, the posters feature figures in nature. The animation of the film with the same figures was made by Baran Baran Animation Office.

The campaign slogan #ifeeljazz (#cazhissediyorum as used in Turkish) constitutes the basis of the poster and the campaign, while the specially designed illustrative, typographic and photographic sticker sets support the visualisation of the feeling of jazz and aim to draw the audience to a happy, spirited world.

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