Named after an Istanbul neighbourhood which has been home since antiquity to people from all cultures and religions, the Pera Ensemble was founded in 2005 by the Istanbul-born musicians Mehmet C. Yesilçay and Ihsan Özer. In the 20 years of their musical collaboration as founding members of the Sarband and Ferahfeza ensembles and in formations like the Emre Ensemble, Concerto Köln and Hesperion XXI, the two musicians gained a reputation both at home and abroad.
The Pera Ensemble combines the instrumental and vocal traditions of Ottoman court music on authentic instruments with European music of the past, based on musicological and historical research by the performing artists. The ensemble's wide-ranging make-up, always tailored to whatever repertoire is being performed, includes specialists in period performance practice. The Pera Ensemble has performed at many events, including the International Handel Festival in Halle, the Schwetzingen Music Festival and the Schleswig Holstein Music Festival, and has made guest appearances at the philharmonic halls in Berlin and Cologne and the Konzerthaus in Dortmund, at Styriarte in Graz and the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music, at the CRR in Istanbul and the Istanbul Festival and at many other concert venues.
The ensemble has so far released the following recordings: "Harem – Les fêtes du Serail" and the pasticcio "Amor Oriental" featuring music by Handel and some of his Turkish contemporaries. The Pera Ensemble has also produced a recording for younger listeners entitled "Kaffee für den König – ein musikalisches Märchen mit Barockmusik aus Europa und der Türkei", a musical fairy tale with Baroque music from Europe and Turkey.