A symphony of hope for fading Turkey

The Dresden Philharmonic will open its season with a symphony commissioned from the Turkish pianist Fazil Say. It’s his fourth, and he has titled it Hope.

Say has been prosecuted by the Erdogan regime for blasphemy, but he has been making conciliatory gestures of late.

Turkey, meanwhile, is progressively reducing its engagement with western civilisation.

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  • On the west side of Taksim Square a huge new mosque is going up. On the east side, the old symphony hall (Atatürk Cultural Center) has come down.

    The dictator promises a replacement for the ACC in the form of an oversized (2,500-seat) opera house complex, with concert halls (plural), by 2019, just as the West puts the economic squeeze on him.

    If all goes as planned, patrons in Atatürk’s once secular nation-state exiting Beethoven’s Ninth or La forza del destino or the Matthäus-Passion will face the mosque.

    • From Turkish reporting :

      “…the Chamber of Architects has repeated its criticism on the demolishment of the old building. “The AKM (Atatürk Cultural Center) is one of the monumental symbols of modern Turkish architecture and of the Republic,” the Istanbul branch of the chamber said in a statement on Feb. 13. “The demolishment of AKM symbolizes the systematic attacks on the Republican era’s symbolic buildings,” the chamber claimed.

      It also referred to a previous decision which deemed the AKM a cultural asset, calling the demolishment of the building “a crime.”

  • Initially the liberal intelligentsia described him as “moderate Islamist”. Erdogan himself pointed out that there was no such thing. But the same people thought that the fall of the Shah would lead to some sort of cuddly democracy.

  • Lots of ironies here. According to the city rankings on Operabase for opera performances per year, Istanbul outranks Boston by 53 positions (home of the oh-so-elite Harvard and bastion of Western Culture.) Istanbul is at 197, Boston at 250. It’s a whopping 253 positions ahead of Manchester — which has apparently never been all that big on Western culture…

    Istanbul is also ahead of Atlanta, Minneapolis, Montreal, and Vancouver. It’s 64 positions ahead of Phoenix (the 5th largest city in the USA.) It beats Dallas, and Salt Lake City by a wide margin. Its 41 positions ahead of silicon millionaire city San Jose. It outdoes filthy rich megalopolis Miami by 47 positions.

    Istanbul is 147 positions ahead of burnout Detroit. And then there’s ghettoville Cleveland, home of the “world’s greatest orchestra” and the Cleveland Institute of Music. The city doesn’t even have an Operabase ranking — though the its orchestra and conservatory have been much in the media of late for other reasons. According to the Cleveland Opera Theater website, it had two regular opera productions last year (likely two performances each) along with an “Amahl and the Night Visitors” performed in a church. Wow, impressive. Rustbelt classiness.

    These cities, of course, all long ago began disengaging with Western Culture. I wish that statement were just an ironic joke…

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