The Orchestra

An ensemble of international stars: playing together in a spirit of friendship and chamber music-like illumination of even the largest orchestral scores are the ideals of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.

The idea for a unique festival orchestra of international standing in Lucerne goes back to Arturo Toscanini, who in 1938 convened acclaimed virtuosos of the time into an elite ensemble with the legendary “Concert de Gala.” It was 65 years later that the conductor Claudio Abbado and Festival Executive and Artistic Director Michael Haefliger established a connection to this moment of the Festival’s birth and founded the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, which made its public debut in August 2003. With Riccardo Chailly, this unique orchestra once again has an Italian music director. Moreover, each summer a guest conductor is invited in order to offer the audience an additional musical perspective.

Every summer – and, starting in 2022, every spring as well as part of a residency – famous soloists, chamber musicians, renowned music teachers, and principals of the leading European orchestras, along with members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and of the Orchestra of La Scala in Milan, join together in Lucerne to form an ensemble that is special class. Many of the musicians spend their vacations here to rehearse and experience afresh a symphonic repertoire free from workaday regimentation and routine.

Many stars of the classical music scene have played in the Lucerne Festival Orchestra over the years: members of the Alban Berg and Hagen Quartets; the violinists Kolja Blacher and Renaud Capuçon; the violists Wolfram Christ and Antoine Tamestit; the cellists Jens Peter Maintz, Natalia Gutman, Gautier Capuçon, and Julian Steckel; the flutists Jacques Zoon and Emmanuel Pahud; the clarinetists Sabine Meyer and Alessandro Carbonare; the oboists Lucas Macías Navarro and Albrecht Mayer; the horn players Alessio Allegrini and Ivo Gass; the trumpeter Reinhold Friedrich and Jeroen Berwaerts; the trombonist Jörgen van Rijen; the timpanist Raymond Curfs; and the list goes on and on … and every summer still more new names come along.

The Lucerne Festival Orchestra performs a three-day residency each spring on Palm Sunday weekend and sets the tone for the opening week of the Summer Festival with several symphony concerts. And at the season’s end comes the grand tour. Foreign residencies have taken these musicians throughout Europe and to Asia and the USA.

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