The two Verbier Festival Orchestras are world leaders in orchestral training and are an essential element of the Verbier Festival’s success. From 2009, the Verbier Festival will ensure the future of these two pre-eminent ensembles of young musicians, thus creating its 6th Pôle d’excellence.

The Verbier Festival Orchestra provides a training ground for gifted young instrumentalists from all over the world to work with leading international conductors and soloists, to gain professional level experience, and to create a worldwide network of contacts. The reputation of the Orchestra for dynamism and passionate performance is such that the 2009 call for auditions attracted over 1000 applicants from all over the world. Once selected these young musicians have the unparalleled opportunity to work intensively in Verbier with coaches from New York's Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, under the patronage of Conductor Laureate James Levine.

The Verbier Festival Orchestra reflects Martin T:son Engstroem’s original vision to make Verbier a summer workshop, both for the recognised professional guest artists at the Festival and also for developing artists – the future soloists taking part in the Verbier Festival Academy and the future orchestral musicians making up the Verbier Festival Orchestra.

A few figures

  • Since it was created in 2000, over 600 musicians have played in the Orchestra.
  • The Orchestra has played in more than 80 cities in 33 countries, in front of more than 300,000 people.
  • Nearly 60 nationalities are or have been represented in the Orchestra since its creation.

Made up of approximately one hundred musicians aged 18 to 28, the Verbier Festival Orchestra led by its Music Director James Levine quickly became the place to be in for talented young orchestra players to network and develop in a professional environment. This training orchestra has been recognised for its dynamism and its passionate performances. One third of the Orchestra is exchanged yearly and the annual auditions attract between 1000 – 1500 candidates from the four corners of the Earth. The selected young musicians have an exceptional opportunity to receive intensive orchestral coaching from principal chairs of the New York Metropolitan Orchestra. At the end of this intensive training session, under the baton of Music Director Charles Dutoit and some of the greatest international conductors, the Verbier Festival Orchestra perform 6 symphonic concerts during the Verbier Festival. Members of the Verbier Festival Orchestra also offer daily late evening chamber music concerts during the Festival.

The Verbier Festival: past and present


The Verbier Festival & Academy is founded, supported by The Friends of the Verbier Festival as well as a number of public and private entities. This new association is the brainchild of Martin T:son Engstroem who, during a family vacation two years earlier, had the wild idea to transform a peaceful village in the Swiss Alps, known chiefly for its ski slopes, into one of the most coveted venues in the international classical music world.