The history of the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra (BIPO) starts with the Borusan Chamber Orchestra, one of the first ventures in the field of culture and the arts by Borusan Holding, a leading industrial conglomerate in Turkey. Though it began with modest numbers, the chamber orchestra was transformed into one of the leading Turkish philharmonic ensembles under its former artistic director and principal conductor Gürer Aykal. Giving its concert premiere in May 1999, BIPO has since become a prominent element of Istanbul’s cultural scene.
BIPO’s first season in 2000–1 took off spectacularly, with symphonies by Beethoven and followed in the seasons to come with regular season concerts as well as invitations to the Istanbul, Eskişehir, Ankara and Ruse (Bulgaria) Music Festivals. Other highlights include a concert to honour the 22nd World Architecture Congress in Istanbul, three performances in Athens of Oresteia
by Iannis Xenakis, which were followed by an invitation to the Megaron Hall in Athens with works by Turkish composers, a special concert at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels within ‘Turkey-Europe Week’, an event organised to celebrate the first anniversary of full membership negotiations between Turkey and the European Union.
BIPO became the resident orchestra of the International Istanbul Music Festival in 2003. Since then, they have officially opened the festival every year with concerts at Hagia Eirene, also accompanying top soloists throughout the festival. Enjoying the privilege of giving world premieres of major Turkish and international works at the festival, BIPO is also the resident orchestra of the International Leyla Gencer Voice Competition. The world-class soloists BIPO has accompanied to date include stellar names such as Renée Fleming, Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang, Elina Garanca, Juan Diego Flórez, Angela Gheorghiu, Joseph Calleja, Maxim Vengerov, Fazıl Say, Martin Grubinger, Freddy Kempf, Sabine Meyer, Isabelle Faust, Branford Marsalis, Peter Jablonski, Hüseyin Sermet, Ayla Erduran, James Ehnes, John Lill, Steven Isserlis, Joanna McGregor, Natalie Clein, Olga Borodina, Alexander Melnikov, İdil Biret and the Juillard String Quartet.
With a strong commitment to fostering and advancing love and appreciation for classical music, BIPO has become the major constituent of the Borusan Culture and Arts’ social responsibility project. Under the title of The Special Concert, BIPO performs under the guidance of a leading figure from the Turkish business world, whose donations provide scholarships for young talents to study at prestigious institutions.
The 2008–09 season marked a turning point in BIPO’s history, when Maestro Gürer Aykal was elevated to the honorary conductor status and Viennese Sascha Goetzel was appointed artistic director and principal conductor of the orchestra. Bringing a new dimension and a new perspective to the ensemble’s vision and repertoire, Goetzel officially took up the position in January 2009.
2009–10 was BIPO’s season in that the orchestra released its first international CD, Respighi, Hindemith, Schmitt
under the Onyx label to international critical acclaim and performed at the Opening Festivities of the 2010 Salzburg Festival. BIPO also received the Turkish music magazine Andante’s “Best Orchestra of the Year” award in May 2010. Their second CD with Goetzel, Music from the Machine Age
, was released in March 2012 again by Onyx.
The 2012–13 season brought the Orchestra together with world-class soloists like Viktoria Mullova, Katia & Marielle Labèque, Daniel Müller-Schott, Nadja Michael, Isabelle van Keulen and Thomas Hampson. Highlights of the 2013–2014 season will be concerts with stars like Roberto Alagna, Murray Perahia, Güher & Süher Pekinel, Valeriy Sokolov, Alexander Gavrylyuk, Nicola Benedetti, Leonard Elschenbroich, Markus Schirmer, Rudolf Buchbinder and Anna Vinnitskaya.