Music & Mountains: Verbier Festival, Switzerland

Verbier is famous as a winter resort, surrounded by breath-taking mountains offering hundreds of kilometres of ski slopes, with the added attraction offered by its après-ski bars and gourmet restaurants. But Verbier can be just as attractive in the summer, as it hosts one of the leading classical musical Festivals. The events transform Verbier into a unique setting, luring music lovers from all over the world. This year, it takes place from 21 July to 6 August.

by Isabelle Junod Hinderer

The Salle des Combins at night c Aline Paley2

It all started 24 years ago when Martin T:son Engstroem, founder and CEO of the Verbier Festival, decided to create an event during which the finest musicians could share their passion, knowledge and experience with future generations of performers. Right from the start, the concept of education driven by passion and a real vision gave this Festival a pioneering stance. It is a unique occasion, combining excellence and beauty, enabling participants to share their expertise in an exceptional alpine setting, assisted by Friends of the Festival who open their chalets to their young guests. It is a 360-degree experience in which people, classical music and nature reach a sublime unity.

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The Terrace c-Nicolas-Brodard

With a new logo referencing the beauty of the Alps, combining the ‘V’ for Verbier along with the tail of a musical note, another era under the guidance of Laurance Marchand has begun. Laurance, who directed artistic coordination at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris for the last 17 years, told us that she is thrilled with her new responsibilities. Her main objectives are not only to guarantee the continuing level of excellence for the programme, the Academy, the Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra and the Junior Orchestra, but also to make this festival accessible to a wider public. So 12,000 tickets are already available for less than 50 Swiss francs, and a junior pass (16-26 years) and a weekend pass have been created.

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Three hundred young musicians (aged from 15 to 29) of 56 nationalities will be taking part in this educational programme, performing on stage with confirmed artists, and attending Master classes, while remaining in close contact with the general public. Nowhere else do you have the opportunity of meeting both famous and upcoming artists in such an informal setting, listening to their performances and talking to them. The ‘Friends of the Festival’ host most of these young artists and generously invite them for dinner in the evenings.

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For more ideas on how to Do, Dine and Spend in Switzerland and beyond, visit our Destinations pages.