Tarkan Rocks Cultural Capital

Love in the Open Air at the Harbiye
Tarkan Official Sources

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Tarkan Harbiye Open Air Concerts 2012Tarkan performed live for five nights in the Turkish cultural capital of Istanbul to a jam-packed open air arena of thousands, ranging from fans and the famous to music critics and media hounds.

Following on from a run of summer concerts as part of the 11th annual Fanta Youth Fest Tour, Turkish pop icon Tarkan came back to his musical homestead at the end of August to pull in the crowds for a series of musical nights at the Harbiye's open air arena in Istanbul.

Last week saw the big city come alive with Tarkan's repertoire of past and present hits when he took to the stage at the Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Amphitheatre, organised under the auspices of Istanbul's most reputable entertainment and event companies MAP (Media and Project) İletişim, Atlantis Yapım and Kirli Kedi. The pop singer's series of shows sold-out as soon as tickets were made available, prompting the organisers to release more dates for the open air venue.

From an original two dates scheduled for the 28-29 August, this was extended to two extra dates on the 31st of August and the 1st of September. When this still failed to satisfy demand, another date was added for the 2nd of September.

With over eight thousand people filling the six thousand capacity open air arena for the final show, the newspaper clippings archived in the press section of Tarkan's official site reports it to have broken attendance records for a single night at the open air auditorium.

Still on a high four days after the concert's end, Tarkan took to his Facebook page to personally thank everyone who attended the musical event.

Tarkan at the Harbiye 2012It's been a few days since the Harbiye concerts ended, but I'm filled with so much energy that I can still hear your applause, your screams, thousands of you singing along to my songs in one voice. When I think of my moments on stage and that amazing vibe I feel like I'm going to burst...

To be greeted by such love, and to become "one" as we really are in our true selves is an extraordinary feeling...

To everyone who came and didn't come to my concerts, and to all my listeners and those bonded by mutual feelings of love for me thank you so very much. I love you all very much...

Plus, I want to thank all my celebrity friends and acquaintances who gave me strength and made me happy by showing up at my concerts to honour me with their presence. I'm so glad you're in the world...

Finally I want to give endless thanks to all the media associations and distinguished members of the press for their contributions, love, support and interest shown to me and my concerts..."

Tarkan on Facebook (6 September 2012)
Photo: Sedat Mehder (2 September 2012)

Making History at the Harbiye

Pictures of the Harbiye and seating plansThe 2012 five-date music extravaganza equals the first time Tarkan broke all known attendance records with five sell-out shows at the open air theatre in 2006, under the sponsorship of a telecommunications company and organised by Tarkan's own music company HITT.

Similar summer concerts at the Harbiye followed in 2008-09 and continued in conjunction with music station Kral in 2010 - which saw Tarkan beat his five-date record for the venue by selling out eight shows.

The 2010 marathon event ran from the 31st of July to the 7th of September, with a team consisting of 80 technicians working to build the stage for each concert. An individual light choreography was utilised for each song using the CyberHoist system, a first for any Turkish venue at the time.

Newspapers reported the audience attendance tally for the 2010 Harbiye concerts had surpassed 50,000, and wrote that Tarkan's mother, accompanied by a young male relative, was in the audience for the finale performance on the 7th of September.

Tarkan introduces his mother to the Harbiye audience, September 7, 2010, photography by Sedat Mehder
Tarkan introduces his mother to the Harbiye audience, September 7, 2010/Sedat Mehder
Aksam logoSinging his songs to a total of 55,000 people during a series of 8 concerts, Tarkan's family and friends showed their support on his final night. Before the famous pop star sang "Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım" (I'm On A Long Narrow Road) [Dudu/2003] Tarkan introduced his mother to the audience.

"If this woman who gave birth to me wasn't here, I wouldn't be here," he said, hugging his mother. Upon noticing his mother become tearful during the song, the singer urged, "Mum, don't cry."

Ömer Karahan (9 September 2010)

For the following year, the singer repeated the love fest with a second September outing comprising of a four-date set of concerts at the Harbiye in 2011. Having opened his official Facebook page in 2010, Tarkan has uploaded photographs from the recent years of his Harbiye shows on his account for followers.

In six series of concerts in seven years, the constant strong demand for ticket sales, and the intimate yet concert-feel bringing a party atmosphere to the shows, has made Tarkan's Harbiye open air concerts a popular tradition in Istanbul. Singing to an over-capacity crowd of music lovers packed into an open air auditorium, the enduring recording artist has made the Harbiye a much sought-after event on his concert calendar - where he is known for staging concerts that draw tens of thousands of people.

In 2004, at the "Karadeniz Ereğli Love, Peace and Friendship Festival" approximately 700,000 people watched his concert, while in 2006 authorities reported almost the same numbers. As the main headline act for Fanta's summer music festival he has drawn over a million in live audience figures for two years running, bringing the overall figure to nearly three million in total - a third of the festival's previous nine year tally.

In addition to his crowd-pleaser shows, the singer has also amassed record-breaking album sales. Tarkan's 2010 release, Adımı Kalbine Yaz, received a positive reaction from both critics and fans all around the world. It sold more than 300,000 copies in its first week and all the singles from the album topped Turkish music charts.

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