Lucerne Festival Orchestra on tour 2019 © Geoffroy Schied / Lucerne Festival
Lucerne Festival Orchestra on tour 2019 © Geoffroy Schied / Lucerne Festival

Meet French-German violist Béatrice Muthelet, a founding member of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.
Béatrice Muthelet joined the Mahler Chamber Orchestra as principal violist in 2001 and, at Claudio Abbado's personal invitation, also became a founding member of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.

What does the Lucerne Festival Orchestra mean to you?

It has marked my summers for over 15 years now! Ever since Claudio Abbado asked me to join in the first year, it was a place for guaranteed excellent music-making and goosebumps onstage... An experience close to my heart, not only for the music but also to meet colleagues from all over the world, different orchestras, whom I wouldn’t get a chance to meet again otherwise. It really was and still is a place where borders disappear and one celebrates the joy of playing together.
Claudio had the talent for uniting people with similar views of music making, similar sensibilities, and that is what still holds us together today.

Three things you always carry with you, in your luggage on tour?

- Running shoes (plus a watch). You can run anywhere and anytime plus it’s a fantastic way to get to know a city. There is always a park or a river to run by and it makes up for the sometimes unhealthy lifestyle on tour (a lot of sitting on buses or airplanes, late-night food, and more or less drinking ;-)) The watch just helps me monitor how far I should run before turning back. It has become a staple of my tour life. And again, it’s a very nice way to connect with colleagues.

- Books, the more the better... as much as my usually already overfull suitcase will allow. If I don’t take at least three I feel unsafe!

- Music. Tours are my absolute favorite place to practice, I’m free to organize my day how I want it, I think any parent will relate to this… also being away from home and any household chores makes this the best and most efficient place to prepare for upcoming projects and concerts or just the usual staying-in-shape practice. Not always fun but necessary.

- On a personal note, I always take a candle or room spray with me - I’m super smell-sensitive and hotel rooms are less than reliable this way.

How do you prepare before the concerts (any rituals)?

I have no special preconcert routine, except that I try and rest beforehand, to lie down, even if I don’t sleep. No sightseeing on a concert day!

Lucerne Festival Orchestra on tour 2019 © Geoffroy Schied / Lucerne Festival
Lucerne Festival Orchestra on tour 2019 © Geoffroy Schied / Lucerne Festival

What is the first thing you do after you return home?

Directly to the washer / dryer usually. If I don’t unpack within a few hours of coming home, I don’t do it for days! Too depressing! And many times it is just to pack again anyways...

And sleep, a lot, when the children allow it.

What do you like most about being on tour with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra?

By now, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra has become a very familiar place and most musicians know each other for a long time, sometimes as far back as our studies and youth orchestras (two of which still exist today, GMJO and ECYO, both founded by Claudio Abbado, real hotbeds for talents those places) - so yes, I would say it's special in the sense that you can hang out with many different people and it feels like a family because we share many memories!

How would you describe your instrument and what is special about it?

My viola is a modern instrument, built by Stephan von Baehr in 2012. It was love at first sight (or hearing to be precise!) and my bow is from the 18th century, a real piece of art. I am very attached to both of them and they help me do my job well, I hope!

Interview by Jacqueline Saner | Lucerne Festival