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.

© Priska Ketterer/LUCERNE FESTIVAL

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.

The idea of friendship and freedom forms the leitmotiv for this ensemble, whose ideal is a chamber music-like spirit of cooperation. Many stars of the classical music scene have played in the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA over the years: members of the Alban Berg, Hagen, and Leipzig String Quartets; the violinist Kolja Blacher; the violists Wolfram Christ and Antoine Tamestit; the cellists Jens Peter Maintz, Natalia Gutman, 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; 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 orchestra sets the tone for the opening week of LUCERNE FESTIVAL with several symphony concerts. Its members also perform chamber concerts in various unusual smaller formations. And at the season’s end comes the grand tour. Foreign residencies have taken these musicians throughout Europe and to Asia and the USA.