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Festival theme Wonderfeel 2023 | Turkey

Why a focus on Turkey?

Officially, we are seizing on the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey as the reason for a Turkish programme line-up at Wonderfeel 2023, but unofficially, curiosity and friendship play an equally important role. The starting point was the collaboration between Istanbul Music Festival and Wonderfeel. Director Efruz Çakırkaya was part of our artistic team for a year and a half, and this month, as a guest curator, she is showing her contribution on each of the three festival days.

In 11 programmes, the Turkish Wonderfeel line-up offers a different look at Turkey and its rich culture and language each time, also highlighting its historical significance as a crossroads between Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The programmes not only give an impression of traditional music and culture, but also of the contemporary Turkish classical music scene.

The programme therefore offers everything from traditional forms deeply rooted in Turkish culture – for instance Sufi, Anatolian folk music and Ottoman baroque music – to modern and experimental performances including two premieres by Turkish-Dutch composers Meriç Artaç and Meliha Doğuduyal. Of course, the music of national classical-music hero Fazıl Say is not missing either, performed by cellist Jamal Aliyev. This will introduce Wonderfeel audiences to the diverse, colourful Turkish classical music scene, hopefully fostering a deeper appreciation of our global artistic landscape. Through a collaboration with the Yunus Emre Institute Amsterdam and local networks in Hilversum, the programme and our Turkish focus will find a wider reach and we hope even more people will feel drawn to Wonderfeel.

This international cooperation comes at a price – 20 flights from Turkey – which is not in line with our aim to organise Wonderfeel as carbon-neutral as possible. Since 2022, we have been planting trees – Istanbul Music Festival in Turkey, Wonderfeel in Iceland – conscious of what we are costing the world and hopefully yielding at the same time. Like every year, it’s about finding the right balance. With our focus on Turkey, this edition the balance tips towards intercultural understanding and a deepening of our cosmopolitan consciousness. Especially in a year when tensions between Turkey and EU member states are rising worryingly. However, what we hear about Turkey in the news only paints a limited picture. In both our festivals, in Istanbul and the Netherlands, we deliberately let various perspectives shine through.

At Wonderfeel, for instance, you will hear the song of activist Suat Derviş in our co-production They Have Waited Long Enough. This production, which premiered at Istanbul Music Festival last month, spotlights three Turkish women. Furthermore, writer Kübra Gümüşay talks about the power of language, and spoken word artist Hassan Gök about our future. And let’s not forget Kurdish singer and activist Aynur Doğan, who performs in the final concert together with the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble. We hope that our artistic programme helps break stereotypes and challenge prejudices, and that our approach in the broadest sense can be an inspiration to all visitors, on and around the stage.

Find out more about guest curator Efruz Çakırkaya's program

Each year, Wonderfeel puts a country in the spotlight. This year, in honor of the republic’s 100th anniversary, that focus is on Turkey with a program curated by guest curator Efruz Çakırkaya. Çakırkaya, director of Istanbul Music Festival, selected the best Turkish classical musicians to tell their own story in music and in words. A story now colored by recent events there. Below, she previews what we can expect from this brilliant Turkish program.