ANKARA -The renovated concert hall of the Presidential Symphony Orchestra, or CSO, in Ankara was inaugurated Wednesday night with a gala concert attended by President Abdullah Gül.

The building has been undergoing restoration since December 2007 in an effort to improve the technical capacity of the 50-year-old venue, the second of Ankara’s important classical music concert halls, after the Bilkent Concert Hall. The CSO, the first musical formation of the Turkish Republic, has been performing its concerts at the hall since 1961.

With the financial support of Doğuş Holding, the hall’s acoustics have been improved in line with international standards and each floor of the three-storey structure has been restored. The stage has been enlarged so a 120-person orchestra and an 80-person choir can now perform on the same stage. A third fire exit has been built and space between audience seats has been increased. The building also now has a more contemporary look.

A large number of guests including ministers and high level officials of the government attended the event which featured famed Turkish pianist İdil Biret accompanied by the CSO under the baton of maestro Rengim Gökmen.

Speaking in the event Günay said Turkey needed such a concert hall in the 85th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Republic and thanked the Doğuş group. Doğuş Holding Chairman Ferit Şahenk said the CSO remained among the most important art institutions of the Turkish Republic and that they would continue to provide their support to such art-related projects.

Meanwhile, Günay and Şahenk held a press conference earlier in the day in the renewed concert hall.

’Well-restored music venue’
Günay said in the conference Ankara now possessed a technically and aesthetically well-restored music venue which met contemporary requirements, thanks to Doğuş Holding.

He also said their next target was to renovate the Opera House in Ankara’s Ulus district and restructure the environment around the CSO building for cultural purposes, including the larger area of the Atatürk Culture Center. The construction works had resumed at the big symphony building next to the CSO building where the foundations were laid 10 years ago, he noted.

Doğuş Holding Chairman Ferit Şahenk said the restoration works cost YTL 10 million and they were ready to invest in further projects.

"The permanent and visible effect of such investments are more important to us than their cost. We allocate YTL 7 million to cultural projects annually. It is a great honor for us to be associated with these projects," he said.