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 countries symphonic ensembles under its former artistic director and principal conductor Gürer Aykal. Performing under its current artistic director and principal conductor Sascha Goetzel since 2009, today BIPO has 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, Lang Lang, Hilary Hahn, Elīna Garanča, Juan Diego Flórez, Angela Gheorghiu, Joseph Calleja, Maxim Vengerov, Roberto Alagna, Rudolf Buchbinder, Nicola Benedetti, Murray Perahia, Bryn Terfel, Isabelle Faust, Branford Marsalis, Martin Grubinger, Steven Isserlis, Viktoria Mullova, Natalie Clein, Katia & Marielle Labèque, Daniel Müller-Schott, Nadja Michael, Isabelle van Keulen, Julian Rachlin, Thomas Hampson, Sabine Meyer, Michel Camilo, Arcadi Volodos, Ayla Erduran, Hüseyin Sermet, İdil Biret, Fazıl Say and the Juilliard 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 Sanat’s social responsibility project. Under the title of “Special Concert”, BIPO performs under the guidance of a leading figure from the Turkish business and art scene, whose donations provide scholarships for young talents to study at prestigious institutions.
Since taking up the baton in 2009, Viennese conductor Sascha Goetzel contributed greatly to the orchestra’s repertoire and its new aim to become one of the best symphonic ensembles of Europe. 2009–10 was a remarkable one when BIPO released its first international CD, Respighi, Hindemith, Schmitt under the Onyx label to international critical acclaim and the orchestra 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. 2014 saw two major international achievements for the orchestra: BIPO had the privilege of being the first ensemble from Turkey to be invited to BBC Proms and performed at the concert titled “Oriental Promise” under Goetzel to critical acclaim. BIPO’s third CD featuring works of Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev, Erkin and Ippolitov-Ivanov was also launched after the concert.
BIPO opened the 2015–16 season with Sarah Chang and accompany world-class soloists such as Katia & Marielle Labèque for Turkey premiere of Philip Glass’s concerto for two pianos (which BIPO was a co-commissioner of), Güher & Süher Pekinel, Evelyn Glennie, Kit Artmstrong, Freddy Kempf, Nicolas Alstaedt, Ufuk & Bahar Dördüncü and Rudolf Buchbinder and performed under Kryzsztof Penderecki as guest conductor. BIPO’s tribute concert to Turkish diva Leyla Gencer featured the concert version of Norma which was performed for the first time in forty years. BIPO went on a tour of Vienna-Germany in February 2016.