Thursday 24 April 2014

Menuhin Festival Gstaad

Gstaad Festival
The Menuhin Festival Gstaad was founded by the violinist Yehudi Menuhin in 1957. Having moved his family to the Swiss alpine town, Menuhin wanted to bring music to the valleys and to bring other musicians to appreciate the Swiss landscape. The festival is based in Gstaad, with many concerts in a festival tent big enough to take the London Symphony Orchestra and 2000 audience, but there also many concerts in the churches in and around the Bernese Oberland. Currently the festival is directed by Christoph Muller who has run it since 2002.

There are chamber music concerts, in the beautiful old churches in the Saanen region where Menuhin originally founded the festival. Menuhin used to surround himself with his musical "family" of friends and pupils, so the festival invite an artist in residence each year, who performs chamber concerts with friends. This year's artist in residence is Christian Zacharias.

This year's festival runs from 17 July to 6 September and takes as its theme Music in Motion. The participants are pretty high profile, the opening concert is a recital of Mozart and Schubert piano sonatas from Christian Zacharias and the second night sees Simone Kermes and Vesselina Kasarova singing arias and duets written for Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni (the rival queens) by Handel, Hasse and their contemporaries.

Gstaad Festival Orchestra
Gstaad Festival Orchestra 
The festival finishes with a performance of Bizet's Carmen with Vesselina Kassarova and Gaston Rivero and Fabrice Bollon conducting forces from Oper Freiburg, and a concert with the Filarmonica della Scala Milano conducted by Daniel Hardin with Christine Schafer singing Strauss's Four Last Songs along with music by Verdi and Tchaikovsky. In between these there are opportunities to hear performers such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Gstaad Festival Orchestra, Antonio Pappano, Neeme Jarvi, Janine Jansen, Diana Damrau, Joseph Calleja, Igor Levit, Alison Balsom, David Goode, CPE Bach's 300th anniversary is commemorated in concert of music by CPE Bach and his father, from Giovanni Antonini and Il Giardino Armonico.

Links with other Menuhin founded establishments continue, and pupils from the Menuhin School in Surrey (founded by Yehudi Menuhin in 1951) will be giving a lunchtime chamber music recital, whilst former Menuhin School pupil Valeryi Sokolov gives a recital of Beethoven violin sonatas.

And in addition to high profile concerts, the festival runs a series of academies, the Gstaad String Academy, the Gstaad Conducting Academy (new this year), the Gstaad Piano Academy,  the Gstaad Baroque Academy and the Gstaad Vocal Academy each of which offers masterclasses with distinguished professors such as Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Neeme Jarvi and Leon Fleisher and opportunities for performance and conducting.
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