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Accordion and Tango Festivals

Turkey / 2004 - 2006

„Finland and Turkey - Partners in Tango“ Festival. At the Galata Tower in Istanbul, 2006.
Photo: Mehmet Uyargil

Accordion and Tango Festivals

Turkey / 2004 - 2006

In 2004 and 2005, while the European Union was flirting with Turkey over a possible membership, Nedim Hazar broke new ground: The Accordion Days.

He initiated the Accordion Days in cooperation with cultural institutions of various European countries such as the Goethe-Institut, the Istanbul production company Pozitif and Anadolu Kültür, the cultural organization of the entrepreneur Osman Kavala. Arrested over two years ago, Kavala is now a political prisoner of the present regime in Turkey.

The Accordion Days were held two years in a row. Thirteen bands and artists, including Motion Trio from Poland, New Tango Orquesta from Sweden, Kimmo Pohjonen from Finland, Muammer Ketencoğlu from Turkey, Manfred Leuchter from Germany, Riccardo Tesi from Italy, Slavic Soul Party from the USA, Otto Lechner from Austria, Tango Extremo from the Netherlands, came to Istanbul and performed at the legendary jazz club Babylon. Afterwards, they gave concerts in Anatolian cities like Malatya, Kayseri, in the Kurdish town of Diyarbakir, even in the easternmost province of Kars. Avantgarde, Tango, Balkan-Beat, Tarantella - all styles were represented. The audience was passionate, and the Turkish media covered the Accordion Days with great interest.

In 2006, when Finland took over the EU presidency at a time when actual negotiations over Turkey’s EU membership were underway, Hazar organized the festival „Finland and Turkey - Partners in Tango“ on behalf of the Finnish Embassy of Turkey. Local authorities granted special permission for the five-hour live programme with over 25 musicians from Finland, a dozen musicians from Turkey and hundreds of dancers on the square in front of Istanbul’s historic Galata Tower, where otherwise loud music was not permitted. The condition was that the music stops when the muezzin calls for prayer. Well, the reigning AKP was also flirting with the EU at the time.

This festival was a huge success too because tango is a popular music style and dance in Turkey. There are dozens of tango songs in the Turkish language. The same is true for the Finnish people, who take tango like a sport for young and old and love romantic tango songs in Finnish.

A few days later CNN-Türk broadcast a 1.5-hour excerpt from the festival. The Finnish and Turkish musicians performed in Ankara and Izmir afterwards.

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Photos: Mehmet Uyargil


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