Istanbulive is an all-day showcase of Turkish music launched in 2009. Produced and presented by Serdar Ilhan and Mehmet Dede, the event is supported by the Turkish Ministry of Culture & Tourism. Istanbulive brings together one of the largest-ever assemblies of musicians from Turkey on an American stage and presents the most diverse live music the nation has to offer. In its first six years at Central Park SummerStage, Lincoln Center, World Financial Center and the SXSW Festival over 25,000 people enjoyed the sounds of Istanbulive.
Twenty-two Turkish artists including Eurovision contest winner Sertab Erener, pop-rock stars MFÖ and folk legends Selda Bagcan have played at Istanbulive. The festival received excellent reviews in the US press including coverage in the New Yorker, Channel Thirteen, National Geographic, MTV and many more. Reuters distributed a clip of the event internationally. The Lucid Culture Blog called Istanbulive, “the Turkish Woodstock.” Fans regularly drive from Boston, DC, Philadelphia and Toronto for this annual gathering.
Istanbulive featured the following artists so far: Istanbulive I in 2009:Mazhar Fuat Özkan, Sertab Erener,Demir Demirkan, Hüsnü Şenlendirici with NY Gypsy All-Stars and special guests Vassilis Saleas (Greece), Brooklyn Funk Essentials (US) and Christiane Karam. Istanbulive II in 2010: Kenan Doğulu (with 12 piece live band), Duman, Ilhan Ersahin's Istanbul Session, Şükriye Tutkun, DJ Ozan Doğulu, Emrah Kanısıcak and the Collage Dance Ensemble. Istanbulive III in 2011:Zülfü Livaneli with special guests Al di Meola, Selloane, Lina Orfanos, Demet Sagiroglu; maNga and NY Gypsy All-Stars. Istanbulive IV in 2012:Selda Bağcan, Ilhan Erşahin’s Wonderland featuring Hüsnü Şenlendirici and The Secret Trio. Istanbulive V in 2013:mor ve otesi, maNga, Gripin and NY Gypsy All-Stars Istanbulive VI in 2014:Mercan Dede & Istanbul Tribe and The Secret Trio
Serdar Ilhan and Mehmet Dede’s passion and love propelled their vision for Istanbulive: To promote the modern face of Turkish music with high-quality artists and superb musicianship. Veterans of the NY concert scene, the duo has presented a broad section of international music concerts at prestigious venues including Symphony Space, The Town Hall, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and The UN General Assembly Hall since the 90s. Collectively, they have over 30 years of experience in the music business and produced hundreds of concerts at festivals, open-air stages, clubs and via North American tours. Through their work, Ilhan and Dede are highlighting underappreciated genres like Gypsy and Mediterranean sounds introducing it to American audiences. In addition to Istanbulive the duo produces the annual NY Gypsy Festival, one of the foremost world music festivals on the East Coast, now in its tenth year. They also book the downtown club DROM, where they present a diverse international roster of acts including jazz, electronic, soul and latin music.