Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Switzerland, 2022

The summer of 2003 saw the birth of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, which was founded by the Italian conductor Claudio Abbado and the Festival’s Executive and Artistic Director Michael Haefliger.



The summer of 2003 saw the birth of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, which was founded by the Italian conductor Claudio Abbado and the Festival’s Executive and Artistic Director Michael Haefliger. They established a link with the legendary “elite orchestra” for which Arturo Toscanini assembled acclaimed virtuosos of his time to create a magnificent ensemble, introducing it in a “Concert de Gala” in 1938, the year of the Festival’s founding. Abbado served as Music Director of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA up until his death in January 2014. Riccardo Chailly, who was appointed his successor, has since extended his contract until 2023. The orchestra comprises internationally acclaimed principals, chamber musicians, and music teachers, as well as members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Filarmonica della Scala. At the 2019 Summer Festival, Chailly conducted them in three different programs featuring works by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and Mahler; the Canadian Yannick Nézet-Séguin led a fourth appearance by the orchestra, with music by Beethoven and Shostakovich. Many of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA’s performances over the last decade have been broadcast on television and then released on DVD or CD; these have garnered such awards as the Diapason d’Or, the BBC Music Magazine Award, and the International Classical Music Award. Their most-recent releases, which appeared in 2019, include a live DVD recording of last year’s all-Ravel program and a CD of orchestral works by Richard Strauss. The LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA has previously toured to many of the musical metropolises in Europe, as well as to New York, Tokyo, and Beijing. In the fall of 2019, the musicians are undertaking their second residency in Shanghai and additionally appearing in concerts in Shenzhen, Beijing, and Milan.

Lucerne Festival

Lucerne Festival is one of the leading international festivals in the realm of classical music. Founded in 1938, Lucerne Festival is led by Michael Haefliger, who has been Executive and Artistic Director since 1999. Each year the most acclaimed symphony orchestras come to Lucerne to perform: these include such ensembles as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. The Lucerne Festival Orchestra, which was founded in 2003 by Claudio Abbado and Michael Haefliger, brings internationally acclaimed orchestral musicians to Lucerne each summer for a two-week period. Riccardo Chailly has served as the orchestra’s Music Director since 2016. Along with cultivating the traditional repertoire, contemporary music plays an essential role at Lucerne Festival in terms of programming and education. Equally important is the development of emerging talent through the programs known as Lucerne Festival Young and through the Lucerne Festival Academy. The Academy, which was founded by Pierre Boulez and Michael Haefliger, has been under the artistic directorship of Wolfgang Rihm since 2016. As part of the network of Lucerne Festival Alumni, former participants in the Academy continue to have an impact in Lucerne and around the world through high-quality concert projects. The KKL Luzern, a complex designed by Jean Nouvel and celebrated for its outstanding acoustics and its architecture alike, serves as Lucerne Festival’s central venue.

The Summer Festival presents some 100 concerts from mid-August until mid-September. The offerings encompass a diverse range of concert formats: symphony concerts, chamber music, recitals, the Debut and Late Nights series, and much more. “Composers-in-residence,” “artistes étoiles,” and such innovative concert formats as the 40min and Young Performance series are a significant aspect of the programming. Each Summer Festival is devoted to a particular topic that functions as the leitmotif for the programming.

As part of its new strategy, Lucerne Festival will launch a new format starting in 2020. Two weekends of concerts will take place, one each in autumn and spring, featuring artists from Lucerne Festival’s in-house projects, among others, including the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Academy and the Lucerne Festival Alumni.

Lucerne Festival Ark Nova, a mobile concert hall, was inaugurated in 2013 and operated in the areas of Japan that had been affected by the 2011 earthquake as a performance venue in the fall of 2014, 2015, and 2017, providing a sign of hope and reassurance.