Press photo Peter Fischli/Lucerne Festival
Press photo Peter Fischli/Lucerne Festival

With “Paradise” as its theme for the summer of 2023, Lucerne Festival will explore the longing for an ideal world in times of climate change and war in Ukraine. Paradise represents an idealized vision of something that no longer exists — that perhaps will never again exist — and yet inspires the imagination as a symbol of eternal life, pristine nature, happiness, and peace. The Festival will trace this theme in music spanning five centuries, including a concert performance of Richard Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold and a semi-staged production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, as well as The Seasons by Joseph Haydn and Richard Strauss’s Alpine Symphony.

The Lucerne Festival Orchestra officially opens the Summer Festival on 11 August with Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony under the baton of its Music Director Riccardo Chailly. An epic depiction of nature and the world, the Third offers a brilliant introduction to the Festival theme of “Paradise.” The following international youth orchestras will perform in the days leading up to the opening: the Havana Lyceum Orchestra with Sarah Willis and Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra Jazz with Sean Jones and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Now in its 20th year, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra musicians will perform five additional concerts through 19 August. Chailly will conduct a Mozart-Brahms evening with Maria João Pires as the soloist; he will also continue the Rachmaninoff cycle with the First Symphony and Fourth Piano Concerto, in which the soloist will be “artiste étoile” Daniil Trifonov. To conclude the residency, guest conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin will conduct Anton Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony. In addition, soloists from the orchestra will perform chamber music in two concerts.

The Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, as well as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, will again provide symphonic highlights at the KKL Luzern in the summer of 2023. The lineup of famous international orchestras making guest appearances at the Festival over the span of a single month also includes the Ensemble intercontemporain, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Concerto Köln, Oslo Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Il Giardino Armonico, Les Arts Florissants, Les Siècles, Bavarian State Orchestra, and the Sächsische Staatskapelle. The Munich Philharmonic Orchestra will conclude the Lucerne Festival this summer with a performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony, known as the "Resurrection Symphony,” at the closing concert conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.

The most sought-after young generation of conductors who will appear over the summer is represented by Maxim Emelyanychev, Daniel Harding, Jakub Hrůša, Klaus Mäkelä, Andris Nelsons, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Lahav Shani, and Ilan Volkov. Well-known stars of the podium will additionally be on hand to conduct, including Giovanni Antonini, Daniel Barenboim, Herbert Blomstedt, William Christie, Iván Fischer, Vladimir Jurowski, Susanna Mälkki, Kent Nagano, Kirill Petrenko, François-Xavier Roth, Michael Sanderling, and Christian Thielemann.

The star soloists lined up for the symphony concerts include Martha Argerich, Yefim Bronfman, Isabelle Faust, Igor Levit, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Maria João Pires, Antoine Tamestit, Christian Tetzlaff, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Yuja Wang. Daniil Trifonov will show his versatility, performing in various contexts as the “artiste étoile”: as a soloist with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, as a chamber musician with musicians from the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and in a solo recital featuring works from Mozart to Scriabin. The pianists Víkingur Ólafsson and Sir András Schiff will also perform solo recitals, and Cecilia Bartoli will give a lieder recital.

The Lucerne Festival Academy once again welcomes around 100 young professional musicians to Lucerne for a period of three weeks. They and former Academy members form the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO). The “Roche Young Commissions” will feature world premieres by David Moliner and Hovik Sardaryan. The Artistic Director of the Academy, Wolfgang Rihm, will again work with young composers in the Composer Seminar. Ilan Volkov will present a world premiere by the Swiss composer Jessie Cox, the work Spiral by Peter Ruzicka, and George Lewis’s Minds in Flux for orchestra and interactive electronics. The LFCO will focus on works by composer-in-residence Enno Poppe; among others, the composer will collaborate with the Academy members to perform his large-scale cycle Speicher as well as his orchestral piece Fett. In the räsonanz — Donor Concert, François-Xavier Roth will conduct his orchestra Les Siècles, playing works by György Ligeti and Enno Poppe. Susanna Mälkki will lead the Academy’s closing concert, which includes a performance of Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps.

Online presales for the Summer Festival will start on 28 March 2023 at 12:00 pm (Swiss time). Subscriptions can already be purchased. The complete program for the Summer Festival, including information on the family concerts in the “Music for Future” category, the Debut series, the world music festival “In the Streets,” the 40min series, and additional contemporary highlights, as well as the cooperation with the Luzerner Theater, will be published at the beginning of March 2023.