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The 23rd Festival of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad from 27 January to 4 February 2023
(pdf) (doc)

The cello as theme of the festival

A celebration of Mozart on the anniversary of his birth, young stars at the top of the billing, a rendezvous with cellist Steven Isserlis and Mexican composer Diana Syrse in residence

Three concert cycles in three outstanding venues
Chapel of Gstaad: discovering young talent across seven concerts
Church of Saanen: the stars of the Festival, with five concerts and one musical story
for children
Church of Rougemont: five concerts featuring the artistic director’s personal favourites

 

GSTAAD, 26 September 2022 – The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad and their artistic director Renaud Capuçon present the musical programme of their 23rd edition. From 27 January to 4 February 2023, music-lovers will gather in the chapel of Gstaad and the churches of Saanen and Rougemont. In the spirit of the Festival’s aims, which it has promoted since its inception in 2001, audiences at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad will be able to hear outstanding young talent as well as internationally renowned virtuosos over the course of nine days.

Renaud Capuçon will be showcasing Mozart in three of the Festival’s flagship concerts scheduled in the church of Saanen, including the opening and closing concerts, with programmes including a Violin Concerto, two Piano Quartets, a Duo for violin and viola and the famous Overture to Don Giovanni. The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad are delighted, in their 23rd year, to welcome Alexandre Kantorow, Lucie Horsch, Olga Paschenko, David Fray, Peter Mattei, Gérard Caussé, Nora Gubisch, Alain Altinoglu, the Camerata Salzburg, the International Menuhin Music Academy with Anastasia Kobekina and many more. For the first time, in the church of Rougemont, a concert for trumpet and organ will be given by David Guerrier and Kit Armstrong. Steven Isserlis will bring the festival to a close with a concert featuring the Orchestre Consuelo conducted by Victor Julien-Laferrière. We are happy to present, once again, the traditional musical story for children in a morning concert at the church of Saanen with Claire-Marue Le Guay and Élodie Fondacci.

The cello, and the promotion of young talent, will be a particular focus for the duration of the festival, with recitals every afternoon in the chapel of Gstaad, where the young cellists, all in contention for the Prix Thierry Scherz and the Prix André Hoffmann, look forward to welcoming audiences for their concerts, which will take place at 4pm. What’s more, the festival’s closing concert in the church of Saanen will feature British cellist Steven Isserlis – who will also take on the role of mentor to the young cellists, with Haydn’s Concerto no.2 in D major.

Renaud Capuçon has once again devised his programme with the aim of building bridges between new generations and established musicians of renown. We are pleased to welcome Mexican composer Diana Syrse as our composer in residence for the duration of the festival. Her work for cello and piano Black Fire, written for the Festival, will receive its world premiere(s!) every afternoon at 4pm by the young musicians specially invited to the festival.

Concerts at the Chapel of Gstaad
The famous British cellist Steven Isserlis, the festival’s mentor to the rising stars, will be offering guidance to the seven young promising musicians who will perform every afternoon in the chapel of Gstaad. They will have the honour of giving the first ever performances of ‘Black Fire’, composed specially for the Festival by the talented Mexican composer Diana Syrse.

Steven Isserlis, mentor to the rising stars
Renowned throughout the world for his flawless technique and the profundity of his playing, Steven Isserlis has a variety of artistic ‘hats’: soloist, chamber musician, teacher, author and broadcaster. He has played with many iconic orchestras, from chamber ensembles to major symphony orchestras, and is equally at home with modern and period instruments, making a point of giving world premieres of contemporary works all over the world. Inspired by the idea of sharing cultural ideas as widely as possible, he has created innovative concepts for concerts, with themes such as composers’ shared inspirations and their muses, the links between the cello and the human voice, and commemorations of the First and Second World Wars. He has won numerous awards, including the Robert Schumann Prize of the City of Zwickau, the Piatigorsky Award, the Maestro Foundation Genius Grant in the United States, the Glashütte Orifginal Music Festival Award in Germany, the Armenian Ministry of Culture’s Gold Medal and the Wigmore Medal, and has been made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE). Since 1997, Steven Isserlis has been artistic director of the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove in Cornwall. He plays the Marquis de Corberon Stradivarius of 1726, on loan from the Royal Academy of Music.

Diana Syrse, composer in residence
A composer and singer, Diana Syrse Values Rosado is originally from Mexico. She studied voice and composition at the Faculty of Music at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM), she received a master’s degree in composition and performance at the California Institute of the Arts (CALARTS) in the United States, a second master’s degree at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Music in Munich, Germany and is currently completing a doctorate at the University of Birmingham (UK) with Daria Kwiatkowska and Scott Wilson. Diana Syrse’s Music is characterized by a blend of sounds that create an energy that serves the dramatic aspect of a text or concept. It combines acoustic instruments with electronics and sometimes uses her own voice or pre-Hispanic instruments to create new sonic urban landscapes. As an artist, she is attracted by current social issues such as migration, feminism and diversity, as well as by the story of her own day-to-day musical career. She has been recognized by a range of prizes and awards including the Music Prize of the City of Munich (Musikpreis der Landeshauptstadt München), the Los Angeles Project Counterpoint of tolerance (United States) and the FONCA scholarship (National Endowment for Culture and Arts, Mexico) for studies abroad. She has also been selected for residencies at the Banff Centre in Canada (supported by FONCA), at the Cité internationale des arts in Paris and at the Deutsches Zentrum in Venice by the German Ministry of Culture.

The concerts
The young cellists, alongside their partners on the piano, will be performing works by a wide range of composers: Beethoven, Britten, Syrse, Poulenc, Schumann, Franck, Martinů, Wallen, Saint-Saëns, Schnittke, Brahms, Abel, Carter, Widor, Kodály, Sarasate, Vivaldi, Rachmaninov, Debussy and Mendelssohn – a range of works that Renaud Capuçon has been at pains to make as varied and diverse as possible.

The Venezuelan-American cellist Edward Luengo completed his studies at the Kronberg Academy. He will be accompanied on 28 January by American-Hungarian pianist Julia Hamos, who has studied with such luminaries as Sir András Schiff and Daniel Barenboim. A winner of numerous awards, including the Queen Elisabeth Competition, Belgian cellist Stéphanie Huang will appear with Turkish pianist Salih Can Gevrek, pupil of András Schiff and artist in residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel. On 30 January, the chapel of Gstaad will host the American multiple award-winning cellist and student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Madelyn Kowalski and her pianist partner, American Anna Han, graduate of the Juilliard School and the Royal Academy of Music in London. On 31 January, it will be the turn of Estonian cellist Marcel Johannes Kits, winner of numerous prizes and a finalist in the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition, and his compatriot Sten Heinoja, also the recipient of many awards. The 1 February will see the French cellist Maxime Quennesson, a former pupil of the Académie Jaroussky, a co-founder of the Trio Zeliha and student at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel performing alongside Cuban pianist Jorge González Bujasán, a finalist in the world-renowned Clara Haskil International Competition. On 2 February we are delighted to hear German cellist Sebastian Fritsch, also a multi-award-winner and a former pupil of Jean-Guihen Queyras, and his partner the seasoned Japanese pianist Naoko Sonoda, who holds positions at the Berlin University of the Arts, the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin and the Franz Liszt Musikhochschule in Weimar. The final concert of the series will be given by cellist Tim Posner, a former student at London’s Royal Academy of Music and notable recitalist and chamber musician, and Greek-German pianist Kiveli Dörken, also a winner of numerous prizes and co-founder of the Molyvos International Music Festival festival on the Greek island of Lesbos.

All these talented young musicians will be in contention for the festival’s two awards, the Prix Thierry Scherz and the Prix André Hoffmann.

The transmission of knowledge is a key theme for Renaud Capuçon, and the young musicians – who are true guests in their own right, not simply contestants – will take part in all the activities organized during the festival. They will each arrive the day before their recital and will receive hour-long masterclasses with both Diana Syrse and Steven Isserlis before their concert in the afternoon.

Two prestigious awards: the Prix Thierry Scherz and the Prix André Hoffmann
The Prix Thierry Scherz is sponsored by the Fondation Pro Scientia et Arte and the association of Friends of the Festival (‘les Amis du Festival’). It represents an opportunity to recognize one young violin virtuoso and offer them encouragement by giving them the chance to record a debut CD with orchestra for the Claves Records SA label.

The Prix André Hoffmann is designed to promote the performance of contemporary music. Endowed with 5000 Swiss francs, it will be awarded for the best interpretation of Diana Syrse’s work. It also provides the support enabling the Festival to host the composer in residence.

Concerts at the church of Saanen
The stars of the festival
The church of Saanen will be filled with the sounds of works by Mozart, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, J.C. Bach, Haydn and Beethoven, performed by a host of star musicians who will ensure that the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad are the unmissable musical event of early 2023.

As mentioned, on 27 January, the church of Saanen will host the festival’s curtain-raiser, a concert devoted to Mozart on the anniversary of his birth. Renaud Capuçon, Paul Zientara, Stéphanie Huang and Guillaume Bellom will mark the great composer’s birthday with a bumper programme, this opening concert featuring the Piano Quartet no.1 in G minor K478, the Duo for violin and viola no.1 in G major K423 and the Piano Quartet no.2 in E flat major K493. Schubert’s devastating Winterreise will take us to a different plane on 28 January, performed by baritone Peter Mattei and pianist David Fray. On 31 January, the winner of 2018’s Prix Thierry Scherz, the prolific concert artist Anastasia Kobekina will be playing alongside the Menuhin Academy, a legendary academy founded by Yehudi Menuhin now with Renaud Capuçon as director, in a programme of Schubert (Arpeggione Sonata D821) and Tchaikovsky (Souvenir de Florence op.70). Two major orchestral concerts will bring the Sommets Musicaux to a close on 3 and 4 February. Renaud Capuçon returns to an orchestra he knows well as a soloist; the Camerata Salzburg is one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras. Conducted by Gregory Ahss, the orchestra presents Johann Christian Bach’s Symphony op.3 no.6 in G major and Mozart’s Symphony no.20 in D major K133. Renaud Capuçon will play Mozart’s Violin Concerto no.3 in G major K216. Cellist in residence Steven Isserlis can be heard with the Orchestre Consuelo, conducted by its director and founder Victor-Julien Laferrière in a programme of Mozart (Overture to Don Giovanni), Haydn (Cello Concerto no.2 in D major) and Beethoven (Symphony no.4 in B flat major op.60) on 4 February.

This year, in the church of Saanen, the Festival will be offering a special concert for local children: ‘Des malheurs de Sophie’ on 31 January at 10am.
Des malheurs de Sophie (‘Sophie’s Misfortunes’), a seminal work of children’s literature, after the Countess of Ségur, with a text by Anaïs Vaugelade and set to music by Robert Schumann, was to have been performed in 2021, but for reasons relating to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the performance was postponed to 2022. The festival is pleased to finally be able to welcome young schoolchildren from the nearby area. This will be another highlight of the Festival, starring French journalist, commentator and musical storyteller Élodie Fondacci as narrator and a French pianist well versed in this genre, Claire-Marie Le Guay.

Concerts in the church of Rougemont
The artistic director’s ‘coups de cœur’: five concerts in 2023
The Romanesque church in Rougemont will play host to the ‘coups de cœur’, the personal favourites, of the festival’s artistic director. There will be five spectacular concerts on 29 and 30 January and 1 and 2 February 2023. The series will be opened on 29 February by brilliant rising star Lucie Horsch, who emerged as a child prodigy on the recorder and has become a Baroque virtuoso of consummate style and elegance, and Olga Pashchenko, one of the most versatile keyboardists currently operating on the international stage. The two young women will present a programme of Bach and Telemann, which perfectly showcase the two instruments in their capacity as soloists. On the evening of 29 January, the Festival will host the ‘young tsar of the piano’ Alexandre Kantorow, gold medallist at the International Tchaikovsky Competition and now in vast demand all over the world, in a classic programme of Brahms and Schubert (the ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy). On 30 January, Renaud Capuçon’s ‘spiritual brother’, the outstanding viola player Gérard Caussé will be in excellent company with Nora Gubisch, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and one of the most sought-after mezzo-sopranos of her generation, and pianist Alain Altinoglu, chief conductor of the hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt (Frankfurt Radio Symphony) and music director of the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie. Audiences will have the opportunity to hear a rare lieder programme, with songs by Brahms and Schumann. An ensemble of remarkable young musicians will sprinkle some stardust on a programme of Baroque music on 1 February: harpsichordist Justin Taylor, violinists Théotime Langlois de Swarte and Sophie de Bardonnèche and cellist Hanna Salzenstein make up Le Consort. Another brilliant young artist will feature on the Sommets Musicaux programme on 2 February, with the prodigious American pianist Kit Armstrong, also a mathematician and polyglot. Renaud Capuçon once described him in an interview as having ‘a talent of the purest kind’. Armstrong and French trumpeter David Guerrier, himself recipient of numerous honours, will present an unexpected programme combining Baroque and contemporary music.

A true winter rendezvous
The festival will feature a total of 18 concerts from 27 January to 4 February 2023. The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, it should be added, are one of the few festivals in Switzerland whose concerts take place exclusively in churches – to the delight of music-lovers who particularly value the unique magic and intimate atmosphere of this event.

The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, a bona fide winter rendezvous in the region and the first classical music festival of the year, have a tradition of organizing dinners in the Gstaad Palace after the concerts in Saanen, thus providing a rare opportunity for a music-loving audience to meet the artists. This is thanks to the patronage of a variety of active partners – whether individual sponsors, business ventures, foundations and associations – including Vera Michalski-Hoffmann, president of the Festival, Aline Foriel-Destezet, Les Amis des Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, the Fondation Hoffmann, the Fondation Pro Scientia et Arte, the municipality of Saanen and surrounding towns, the canton of Bern and the Loterie Romande, to name only a few. These special events will, at last, be able to take place once again in 2023.

Association of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad
President : Vera Michalski-Hoffmann
Director : Ombretta Ravessoud
Artistic director : Renaud Capuçon


Talent of two young violinists rewarded at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad festival (pdf) (doc)

Anna Egholm – Winner of the Prix Thierry Scherz
Sponsored by the Fondation Pro Scientia et Arte and by The Friends of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad

and

Mairéad Hickey – Winner of the Prix André Hoffmann

 

GSTAAD, 7 February 2022 – The 22nd Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad festival has just drawn to a close. Danish violinist Anna Egholm (25) has been named winner of the Prix Thierry Scherz. This prize is sponsored by the Fondation Pro Scientia et Arte and the Friends of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad. The Prix André Hoffmann has been awarded to 25-year-old Irish violinist Mairéad Hickey.

Both prizewinners performed at the chapel of Gstaad as part of the ‘Young Talent’ series on 5 February and 29 January respectively. This warrants a mention considering that the young talents who were due to perform in 2021 were not able to do so because of the pandemic. The festival was delighted to include them in this year’s programme.

Prix Thierry Scherz awarded to Anna Egholm
The Prix Thierry Scherz is awarded for the best performance in the ‘Young Talent’ series. The winner gets the opportunity to record his or her first CD with an orchestra. This year, the jury included Renaud Capuçon (chairman), French violinist Guillaume Sutre, who also mentored the young hopefuls, violist Gérard Caussé, and Patrick Peikert, manager of the Claves Records label. The jury awarded the Prix Thierry Scherz to this talented young Danish violinist, a former student at the Haute école de musique (HEMU) in Lausanne, who won over the jury with her performance of works by Beethoven, Brahms, and Ravel. Egholm will record a CD with an orchestra on the Claves Records label in the second half of the year. Claves Records will also promote the recording. The last winner of this prize was the French pianist Jean-Paul Gasparian, whose CD of works by Rachmaninov and Babadjanian, recorded with the Bern Symphony Orchestra and conductor Stefan Blunier, will be released on 25 March 2022.

The Prix André Hoffmann seeks to bring contemporary classical music to a wider audience. Every year, a contemporary composer writes a piece for the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, which is then performed by the musicians in the ‘Young Talent’ series over the course of the festival. The Fondation André Hoffmann provides funding for the commissioned piece, which is then performed for the first time in Gstaad, and for the residence of the composer. This year, the composer in residence was Wolfgang Rihm and his composition for the festival was entitled Episode. Mairéad Hickey has been awarded the prize, which is endowed with 5,000 Swiss francs, for the best performance of this new work.

A much anticipated return
After a long and difficult 18 months without live concerts, during which the 21st festival was streamed live online (albeit without live audiences), the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad festival is both grateful and delighted to have been able to organise a ‘normal’ festival, the 22nd in its history, which took place from 28 January to 5 February. The joy was even greater considering that so many events are being cancelled throughout Europe right now. The delight felt by audience members at being able to meet in a concert hall, to see familiar faces once again, and to share unique musical concerts was both visible and palpable every day. What a joy it was to be able to once again enjoy artists performing in the marvellous acoustics of the church in Rougemont, in the woody warmth of the church in Saanen, and in the cosy intimacy of the chapel in Gstaad. Knowledgeable music lovers and new enthusiasts alike attended the concerts in large numbers (approximately 3,700 people in total).

Concerts, dinners, and one cancellation
This year’s Sunday concert was dedicated to the music of Bach and featured violinist Guillaume Sutre, who also mentored the young performers. Held in the church in Rougemont on 30 January, entry was free of charge. The Sunday concert, which was introduced to the festival by Renaud Capuçon in 2020, will remain a fixture of the festival programme in years to come. Sadly, the free concert for children, Des malheurs de Sophie (‘Sophie’s Misfortunes’), based on the eponymous novel by the Countess of Ségur, which was due to be narrated by Agnès Jaoui with music by Robert Schumann performed by Claire-Marie Le Guay on Monday, 31 January, had to be cancelled for the safety of vulnerable children. Thankfully, the dinners under the patronage of the festival’s sponsors and the Friends of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad were able to take place in the exquisite and ornate surroundings of the Gstaad Palace.

Memorable concerts
One of the highlights of the festival was undoubtedly the opening concert, which was of particular significance this year because it saw Renaud Capuçon conducting the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne (OCL, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra), a position he took up only this season. Renaud Capuçon put together a rare and fascinating programme that included a work by Chevalier de Saint-Georges in Saanen on 28 January. Among others, the mystical atmosphere of the concert by the excellent English pianist Stephen Hough in Rougemont on 29 January, the return of Gidon Kremer with a splendid programme of brilliantly interpreted Baltic pieces in Saanen on 1 February, and the inspired duo of Emmanuel Pahud and Benjamin Alard in Rougemont on 2 February will remain in people’s memories for a long time to come. Two outstanding concerts in Saanen – Maria João Pires and Renaud Capuçon on 3 February; Juan Diego Flores and Vincenzo Scalera the day after – received lengthy ovations from absolutely enchanted audiences. The virtuoso concert by the Ensemble Matheus (conductor: Jean-Christophe Spinosi) proved a brilliant choice to close the festival.

The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, whose unique selling points include consistent excellence, support for young musicians, and the intimate rapport between artists and audiences that emerges in the glorious surroundings of these magnificent church buildings, have once more comprehensively delivered in terms of quality, shared experiences and cultural communication.

The 23rd Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad festival will take place from 27 January to 4 February 2023. The featured instrument will be the cello.

HD illustrations and biographies of the prizewinners of the 2022 festival can be downloaded here:: http://www.sommetsmusicaux.ch/presse/, in the sections Biographies & images (Biographies & images) and Concert photos 2022

Switzerland
Alexandra Egli, Music Planet, alexandra.egli@music-planet.ch, 079 293 84 10

France
Valérie Samuel, Opus 64, v.samuel@opus64.com, +33 140 26 77 94


The 22nd Festival of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad from 28 January to 5 February 2022 (pdf) (doc)

An ode to youth, and a reunion with audiences

Renaud Capuçon will open the Festival in the church of Saanen, conducting the Orchestre de chambre de Lausanne

Three concert cycles in three outstanding venues
Chapel of Gstaad: discovering young talent across eight concerts
Church of Saanen: the stars of the Festival, with five concerts and one musical story
for children
Church of Rougemont: five concerts featuring the artistic director’s personal favourites

 

GSTAAD, 22 October 2021 – The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad and their artistic director Renaud Capuçon present the musical programme of their 22nd edition. From 28 January to 5 February 2022, music-lovers will gather in the chapel of Gstaad and the churches of Saanen and Rougemont. In the spirit of the Festival’s aims, which it has promoted since its inception in 2001, audiences at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad will be able to hear outstanding young talent as well as internationally renowned virtuosos over the course of nine days.

In the face of the extreme difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad held firm and offered its fans a splendid edition of the festival, available for the first time to stream live online, which proved an international success. The festival’s organizers are more thrilled than ever to be able to see their audience in the flesh again for their 2022 festival, which will as once again feature an outstanding, original and varied programme. This will include a number of concerts rescheduled after having to be cancelled last year, but the major concerts will involve new and hitherto unseen lineups, to delight the festival’s devotees and new followers alike. This year is a very special one for the artistic director of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, as it also marks his appointment as chief conductor and artistic director of the Orchestre de chambre de Lausanne, a role he will assume from the 2021–2 season. It is entirely natural, therefore, that Renaud Capuçon should have chosen to open the festival with the OCL on 28 January at 7.30pm in the church of Saanen, with an unusual programme featuring two violin concertos by a composer whom history has almost forgotten: Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-George – as well as Mendelssohn’s Symphony no.4 ‘Italian’ in A major op.90.

The violin, and the promotion of young talent, will be a particular focus for the duration of the festival, with recitals every afternoon in the chapel of Gstaad, where the young violinists, all in contention for the Prix Thierry Scherz and the Prix André Hoffmann – which could not be awarded in 2021 – look forward to welcoming audiences for their concerts, which will take place at 4pm. The same goes for the church of Rougemont, which will present a special concert at 11am on 30 January, featuring the violinist Guillaume Sutre in a programme of music by Bach. Sutre will also take on the role of mentor to the young violinists. Another violin highlight will take place in the concert of 1 February at the church of Saanen with Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer, rightly considered one of the finest violinists and musicians of his generation. Kremer was taught by his father and grandfather, both professional violinists, and studied under David Oistrakh. He will be accompanied by the Kremerata Lithuanica, a recently established orchestra made up of young talented musicians, and Latvian pianist Georgijs Osokins, in a striking programme largely comprising works by young Baltic composers.

Renaud Capuçon has once again devised his programme with the aim of building bridges between new generations and established musicians of renown. Wolfgang Rihm, who has become a major figure in the world of contemporary music thanks to the quality and richness of his catalogue of almost four hundred works, has done us the honour of being our composer in residence for the week of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad. Rihm began his musical training – as well as studies in contemporary painting – at a very young age, studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne and with Klaus Huber and Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht in Freiburg. A composer of considerable international renown, Wolfgang Rihm has taught at Darmstadt since 1978 and since 1981 at Munich’s University of Music and Performing Arts. From 1984 to 1989, he was also co-editor of the musical journal Melos and musical adviser to the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. He has received a number of prestigious awards throughout his career, including the Ernst von Siemens prize in 2003, the Golden Lion from the Venice Biennale in 2011 and the German Great Cross of Merit (Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz) in 2011.

Épisode, a piece for violin and piano composed by Rihm specially for the Festival, will be played every afternoon at 4pm by the young musicians specially invited to the festival.


Chapel of Gstaad – Guillaume Sutre, mentor to the rising stars

Guillaume Sutre was only 18 when he won the Alberto Curci international violin competition in Naples and the ARD international piano trio competition in Munich. He soon went on to receive further awards, with first prize at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition (USA), first prize in the Concours Lily Laskine, and the Georges Enescu prize from SACEM. In 1999, he was made Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Fired from an early age by a passion for chamber music, he founded the Trio Wanderer, and ten years later became the new first violinist of the Ysaÿe Quartet. In parallel to his activities as a chamber musician, Gillaume Sutre also appears as a soloist with some of the world’s most distinguished orchestras. His recordings for Sony, Decca, Harmonia Mundi, Naïve, Ysaÿe Records and Sonarti have been recognized with some of the highest accolades, including the Grand Prix du Disque from the Académie Charles Cros in 2001. He was invited by the Faculty of Music at the University of Montreal to be professor of violin and chamber music. He has been a member of several prestigious international competitions, including the Long-Thibaud competition in Paris, the Fermo/Andrea Postacchini competition and the Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition.

The concerts
The young violinists, alongside their partners on the piano, will be performing works by a wide range of composers: Bach, Rihm, Ysaÿe, Prokofiev, Maier-Röntgen, Fauré, Ravel, Bartók, Schumann, Saint-Saëns, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Kreisler, Schnittke, Sibelius and Lutosławski.

This is truly a repertoire that Renaud Capuçon has been at pains to make as varied and diverse as possible.

The series of young talents will open with a concert by Finnish-Dutch violinist Rebecca Roozeman (Sibelius Academy) on Saturday 29 January at the chapel of Gstaad, with her partner Anton Mejias. French violinist (and composer) Élise Bertrand and her fellow countryman, pianist Gaspard Thomas will continue the series on 30 January, and French violinist Thomas Lefort (semi-finalist in the International Long-Crespin Competition in 2018) will be performing alongside his compatriot Pierre-Yves Hodique on 31 January, with Russian violinist Dmitry Smirnov (winner of the Tibor Varga competition in 2015) and Italian pianist Marco Scilironi giving the 1 February concert. French violinist Shuichi Okada (Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel, under the auspices of Augustin Dumay) will be performing on 2 February, alongside his compatriot, pianist Clément Lefebvre. English violinist Louisa-Rose Staples and German pianist Julius Asal (from the Yehudi Menuhin School and the Hochschule fur Musik Hanns Eisler) will appear on 3 February. Belgian-Polish violinist Alexandra Cooreman (Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel, under the auspices of Augustin Dumay) and Russian pianist Olga Kirpicheva will be playing on the 4 February, while the whole series will be brought to a close by Danish violinist Anna Egholm (winner of the Ysaÿe International Violin Competition) and Russian pianist Maria Baranova on 5 February.

All these talented young musicians will be in contention for the festival’s two awards, the Prix Thierry Scherz and the Prix André Hoffmann.

The transmission of knowledge is a key theme for Renaud Capuçon, and the young musicians – who are true guests in their own right, not simply contestants – will take part in all the activities organized during the festival. They will each arrive the day before their recital and will receive hour-long masterclasses with both Wolfgang Rihm and Guillaume Sutre before their concert in the afternoon.

Two prestigious awards: the Prix Thierry Scherz and the Prix André Hoffmann
The Prix Thierry Scherz is sponsored by the Fondation Pro Scientia et Arte and the association of Friends of the Festival (‘les Amis du Festival’). It represents an opportunity to recognize one young violin virtuoso and offer them encouragement by giving them the chance to record a debut CD with orchestra for the Claves Records SA label.

The Prix André Hoffmann is designed to promote the performance of contemporary music. Endowed with 5000 Swiss francs, it will be awarded for the best interpretation of Wolfgang Rihm’s work. It also provides the support enabling the Festival to host the composer in residence.


Concerts at the church of Saanen – The stars of the festival

The church of Saanen will be filled with the sounds of works by Chevalier Saint-Georges, Mendelssohn, Pärt, Serksnyte, Miliūnaitė-Bliūdžiuvienė, Žlabys, Kissin, Pelēcis, Piazzolla, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, Donnizetti, Verdi, Puccini, Gounod, Massenet, Vivaldi, Handel, Marais and Rebel, performed by a host of star musicians. They will see to it that that the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad are a musical event not to be missed at the beginning of 2022.

As mentioned, on 28 January, the church of Saanen will be welcoming Renaud Capuçon and the Orchestre de chambre de Lausanne to open the festival, in an evening devoted to the music of Chevalier Saint-Georges and Mendelssohn. Capuçon will be taking on the roles of both soloist and conductor. On 1 February, Latvia violinist Gidon Kremer will take us on a journey to the shores of the Baltic Sea and even as far as Argentina (with a wink to Piazzolla, whose centenary we celebrate in 2021), with an adventurous programme consisting principally of works by young Baltic composers, including a Swiss premiere! On 3 February, the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad have the great pleasure of welcoming legendary Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires in a splendid programme of core repertoire comprising three sonatas for piano and violin by Mozart and Beethoven, in which she will be accompanied by Renaud Capuçon. Juan Diego Flórez, one of the greatest tenors on the contemporary operatic scene, and pianist Vincenzo Scalera will take centre stage on 4 February. Finally, a programme of opera arias by Vivaldi, Handel (his famous Rinaldo) and Marais, as well as a prologue by Jean-Féry Rebel, performed by the ensemble Matheus and Jean-Christophe Spinosi, conductor, violinist and founder of the ensemble, will bring the festival to a close on 5 February.

This year, in the church of Saanen, the Festival will be offering a special concert for local children: ‘Des malheurs de Sophie’ on 31 January at 10am.
Des malheurs de Sophie (‘Sophie’s Misfortunes’), a seminal work of children’s literature, after the Countess of Ségur, with a text by Anaïs Vaugelade and set to music by Robert Schumann, will be another highlight of the Festival, starring French actress, scriptwriter, director and singer Agnès Jaoui as narrator and a French pianist well versed in this genre, Claire-Marie Le Guay.


Concerts in the church of Rougemont – The artistic director’s ‘coups de cœur’: five concerts in 2022

The Romanesque church in Rougemont will play host to the ‘coups de cœur’, the personal favourites, of the festival’s artistic director. There will be five spectacular concerts on 29, 30 (afternoon and evening) and 31 January and on 2 February 2022. The series will be opened on 29 February by the British pianist – and author – Stephen Hough, Commander of the Order of the British Empire and teacher at the Royal Academy of Music in London, who will present a programme of Bach-Busoni, Chopin and Schumann, with his magnificent cycle Kreisleriana op.16. French violinist Guillaume Sutre, who will also take on the role of mentor to the young violinists, will play Bach’s Violin Sonata no.2 in A minor BWV 1003 and the Partita No.2 in D minor BWV 1004 on 30 January; this concert will be offered to the public free of charge. Formed by three friends, the Trio Zeliha is an ode to youth to delight even older generations, compelling in its sincerity; the trio will present a programme of music by Schumann and Shostakovich, including Schumann’s Fantasiestücke op.88, on 30 January. A viola professor at the Paris Conservatoire and at Madrid’s Reina Sofía School of Music, Gérard Caussé will be performing at the 31 January concert with Julia Hagen, daughter of Clemens Hagen of the famous Hagen Quartet, and Renaud Capuçon, in a concert devoted exclusively to works by Mozart. This series of the artistic director’s personal favourites in the church of Rougemont will come to a close on 2 February with Emmanuel Pahud, principal flautist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, co-founder of the ensemble Les Vents Français and founder of the International Chamber Music Festival of Salon-de-Provence: he will be playing a programme of music by Bach alongside the harpsichordist, organist and clavichordist Benjamin Alard, a world-renowned specialist in Bach’s music. This same musical collaboration was awarded the first prize at Bruges’ international harpsichord competition (the MA Festival) in 2004.


A true winter rendezvous

The festival will feature a total of 19 concerts from 28 January to 5 February 2022. The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, it should be added, are one of the few festivals in Switzerland whose concerts take place exclusively in churches – to the delight of music-lovers who particularly value the unique magic and intimate atmosphere of this event.

The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, a bona fide winter rendezvous in the region and the first classical music festival of the year, have a tradition of organizing dinners in the Gstaad Palace after the concerts in Saanen, thus providing a rare opportunity for a music-loving audience to meet the artists. This is thanks to the patronage of a variety of active partners – whether individual sponsors, business ventures, foundations and associations – including Vera Michalski-Hoffmann, president of the Festival, Aline Foriel-Destezet, Les Amis des Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, the Fondation Hoffmann, the Fondation Pro Scientia et Arte, the municipality of Saanen and surrounding towns, the canton of Bern and the Loterie Romande, to name only a few. These special events will, at last, be able to take place once again in 2022.

Association of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad
President : Vera Michalski-Hoffmann
Director : Ombretta Ravessoud
Artistic director : Renaud Capuçon


The 21st edition of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad online (pdf) (doc)

A resounding success

Martha Argerich, Renaud Capuçon, Nelson Goerner, Jean-Paul Gasparian, Bomsori Kim, Michel Dalberto, Alexandre Kantorow and Victor Julien-Laferrière, performing in the church of Saanen, are all available to watch on the festival’s website and YouTube channel

GSTAAD, 18 February 2021 – Concerts streamed live from the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad 2021 have been watched far beyond the borders of Switzerland

For their 21st edition, the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad have managed to overcome all the difficulties and obstacles they have had to face. The festival’s staff, artistic director Renaud Capuçon and the artists scheduled to perform have shown remarkable patience and great flexibility right up to the very last minute, given the magnitude of the restrictions and challenges they have faced. It was decided that the festival would go ahead, with a view to spreading a message of hope and in a spirit of solidarity with the artists who have suffered so much and the audiences who have been deprived of concerts for so long.

Five concerts were streamed live on the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad’s website and YouTube channel. These were concerts of exceptional musical quality in which the delight of the musicians at being able to meet and share the moment with their audience was plain to see. This, of course, was an audience that had to be imagined, but still very much present, with 20,000 people watching the five concerts and 40,000 visiting the festival’s various platforms over the course of the week. The festival’s organizational team was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm generated by this unique event, with a virtual audience assembled from far beyond the borders of Switzerland. This excitement can be seen in the comments and palpable enthusiasm of an audience evidently grateful for these concerts available to watch again and again on the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad’s website and YouTube channel. The festival is also delighted with the outstanding broadcast quality of these concerts, and is grateful to its partners RTS – Espace 2 and Mezzo/Medici. This year’s concerts were also a great success on Medici TV. Broadcast from 3 to 7 February 2021 and available free of charge on the medici.tv website, our concerts were viewed by a total audience of 60’000 people in 82 countries and 771 cities. The 2018-2020 programme of the Festival Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad will be in the spotlight on Mezzo TV in March 2021 as part of the Swiss Month campaign. The concerts of the 2021 edition will be broadcast at a later date on RTS – Espace 2 and Mezzo. We will keep you updated on the broadcast dates on our various platforms.

The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad would also like to take this opportunity to thank its sponsors, and the companies, associations and corporate partners that support it, such as Vera Michalski-Hoffmann, president of the Festival, Les Amis des Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad – the friends of the festival – the municipality of Saanen and surrounding towns, the canton of Bern and the Loterie Romande, as well as the Gstaad Palace, to name only a few, without whose support the 2021 festival could not have happened. Thanks are also due to the media outlets that have been an invaluable support to the festival in communicating its message.

The festival is pleased to invite you to its 22nd edition, from 28 January to 5 February 2022. We can already announce that the young violinists in contention for the Prix Thierry Scherz and the Prix André Hoffmann who were unable to appear this year will be on the programme next year:

  • Louisa-Rose Staples
  • Elise Bertrand
  • Dmitry Smirnov
  • Shuichi Okada
  • Anna Egholm
  • Thomas Lefort
  • Alexandra Cooreman
  • Rebecca Roozeman

As we look forward to seeing you again in 2022, we invite you to relive the performances of the incomparable Martha Argerich with Renaud Capuçon and her fellow Argentinian Nelson Goerner. Pianist Jean-Paul Gasparian and violinist Bomsori Kim can also be heard, as can their distinguished teacher Michel Dalberto, along with pianist Alexandre Kantorow with French cellist Victor Julien-Laferrière and our artistic director, violinist Renaud Capuçon. All of these artists can be viewed free of charge on the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad’s website and YouTube channel.

We can’t wait to see you again from 28 January to 5 February 2022 for the 22nd Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad. It’s a date!

Association of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad
President : Vera Michalski-Hoffmann
Director : Ombretta Ravessoud
Artistic director : Renaud Capuçon

The 2021 concerts can be viewed at www.sommets-musicaux.ch


The 21st Festival of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad online from 2 to 6 February 2021 (pdf) (doc)

The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, under the leadership of their artistic director Renaud Capuçon, will be streamed live for the first time in their history.


The 21st Festival of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad from 29 January to 6 February 2021 (pdf) (doc)
The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad and -their artistic director Renaud Capuçon present the musical programme of their 21st edition. From 29 January to 6 February 2021, music-lovers will gather in the chapel of Gstaad and the churches of Saanen and Rougemont. In the spirit of the Festival’s aims, which it has promoted since its inception in 2001, audiences at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad will be able to hear outstanding young talent as well as internationally renowned virtuosos over the course of nine days.


Two young pianists recognized at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad (pdf) (doc)
The 20th Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad has just come to a close, awarding the Prix Thierry Scherz to 25-year-old French pianist Jean-Paul Gasparian. This prize is sponsored by the Fondation Pro Scientia et Arte and by the Friends of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad. The Prix André Hoffmann has been awarded to 25-year-old Austrian pianist Aaron Pilsan.

Both prizewinners gave their concerts in the chapel of Gstaad on 4 and 7 February respectively, as part of the ‘Young Talent’ series.

The Prix Thierry Scherz, awarded to Jean-Paul Gasparian
The Prix Thierry Scherz is awarded for the best performance in the ‘Young Talent’ series, offering the winner the opportunity to record their first CD with an orchestra. This year, the jury, under the auspices of Renaud Capuçon, the festival’s artistic director, and comprising Nicholas Angelich, mentor of the ‘Young Talent’ concert series, Camille Pépin, composer in residence, and Patrick Peikert, manager of the Claves Records label, unanimously awarded the Prix Thierry Scherz to this gifted young pianist. He will record a CD with the Lausanne Symphony Orchestra and the Claves Records label in the course of the second half of 2020. Claves Records will also promote the recording.

The Prix André Hoffmann awarded to Aaron Pilsan
The Prix André Hoffmann seeks to bring contemporary classical music to a wider audience. Every year, a contemporary composer writes a piece for the Sommets Musicaux, which is then performed by the musicians in the ‘Young Talent’ series over the course of the festival. This year, composer in residence Camille Pépin composed the work Number 1 for the event. Aaron Pilsan has been awarded the prize, endowed with 5000 Swiss francs, for the best performance of this new work.

Generosity – the theme of the Festival’s 20th anniversary
The 2020 festival took place from 31 January to 8 February and was a great hit with audiences. The concerts played to consistently packed, buzzing halls of knowledgeable music-lovers and relative newcomers alike.


20th Anniversary (pdf) (doc)
The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad celebrate their 20th anniversary 31 January to 8 February 2020.


Two young viola players recognized at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad (pdf) (doc)
The 19th Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad has just come to a close, awarding the Prix Thierry Scherz, sponsored by the Fondation Pro Scientia et Arte and by the Friends of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, to 24-year-old English violist Timothy Ridout. The Prix André Hoffmann has been awarded to 23-year-old French violist Jean Sautereau.


19th Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad 25 January to 2 February 2019 (pdf) (doc)
The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad and their artistic director Renaud Capuçon present the musical programme of their nineteenth edition.


Russian cellist Anastasia Kobekina, winner of two awards at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad (pdf) (doc)
The 18th Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad has awarded the Prix Thierry Scherz, sponsored by the Fondation Pro Scientia et Arte and by the Friends of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, to 24-year-old Russian cellist Anastasia Kobekina. The young Russian cellist has also been awarded the Prix André Hoffmann, together with 31-year-old French pianist Paloma Kouider.


18th Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad 26 January to 3 February 2018 (pdf) (doc)
The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad and their artistic director Renaud Capuçon present the musical programme of their eighteenth edition. From 26 January to 3 February 2018, music-lovers will gather in the churches of Gstaad, Saanen and Rougemont. In the spirit of the Festival’s objectives, unchanged since its inception in 2001, audiences at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad will be able to hear outstanding young talent as well as internationally renowned virtuosos over the course of nine days.


Three young artists to receive two prestigious awards (pdf) (doc)
The 17th Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad has awarded the Prix Thierry Scherz, sponsored by the Fondation Pro Scientia et Arte and by the Friends of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, to 24-year-old American violinist Caroline Goulding. 21-year-old French violinist David Petrlik and pianist Alexandre Kantorow have been awarded the Prix André Hoffmann.


17th Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad 27 January to 4 February 2017 (pdf) (doc)
The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad and their artistic director Renaud Capuçon present the musical programme of their seventeenth edition. From 27 January to 4 February 2017, music-lovers will gather in the churches of Gstaad, Saanen and Rougemont. In the spirit of the Festival’s objectives, unchanged since its inception in 2001, audiences at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad will be able to hear outstanding young talent as well as internationally renowned virtuosos over the course of nine days.


Three young pianists to receive two prestigious awards (pdf) (doc)
The 16th Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad has awarded the Prix Thierry Scherz, sponsored by the Fondation Pro Scientia et Arte, jointly to 23-year-old French pianist Guillaume Bellom and 15-year-old Irish pianist Kevin Jansson. 23-year-old French pianist Rémi Geniet has been awarded the Prix André Hoffmann.


16th Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad 29 January to 6 February 2016 (pdf) (doc)
The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad present the musical programme of their sixteenth edition. From 29 January to 6 February 2015, music-lovers will gather in the churches of Gstaad, Saanen and Rougemont. In the spirit of the Festival’s objectives, unchanged since its inception in 2001, audiences at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad will be able to hear outstanding young talent as well as major international virtuosos over the course of nine days.


Renaud Capuçon appointed artistic director of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad (pdf) (doc)
The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad are pleased to announce the appointment of the French violinist Renaud Capuçon to the position of artistic director of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad from 2016.


15th Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad 30 January to 7 February 2015 (pdf) (doc)
The Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad present the musical programme of their fifteenth edition. From 30 January to 7 February 2015, the harp will be enchanting music-lovers in the churches of Gstaad, Saanen and Rougemont. In the spirit of the Festival’s objectives, unchanged since its inception in 2001, audiences at the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad will be able to hear outstanding young talent as well as major international virtuosos over the course of nine days.


A Tribute to Thierry Scherz (pdf) (doc)
Managing director and team of the Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad are deeply saddened to announce the death of Thierry Scherz, artistic director and co-founder of this event, who passed away far too young on July 1, 2014.

Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad
Cour Saint-Pierre 5
CH-1204 Genève
T: +41 22 738 66 75

© Les Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad, 2021
Photographer: Raphaël Faux
Conception: WIS17 Agency