24 November 2020
By Ellie Palmer
The Verbier Festival returns for its 28th year for 17 days of live performances and events
The Verbier Festival will return once again next July-August for its 28th edition.
2020 saw the festival adopt a virtual edition with limited live performances due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but 2021 will see the much-loved festival return to a live setting – albeit with strict protocols in place.
Safety remains the Festival’s highest priority. Plans will be adjusted in response to public health measures as they evolve, both prior to the announcement of the Festival programme and leading up to the summer.
Verbier Festival Found and & Director Martin T:son Engstroem comments: “We were among the first major festivals in Switzerland to call off its 2020 edition, knowing that if we had gone ahead it would have put our family of audiences, artists and team members at risk. And while it’s clear we are not out of the woods yet, we are now optimistic that once the clouds part, we will once again come to together in Verbier for our 28th edition.”
Pianist Evgeny Kissin is set to perform at the Festival. ©S Gusov
The 2021 Festival will be opened by Verbier Festival Orchestra Music Director Valery Gergiev, while pianist Evgeny Kissin – a festival favourite – returns. Other highlights include two Puccini operas, Fanciulla del West and La Bohème—the latter sung by singers of the Academy—in addition to an evening featuring the second act of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.
This edition also features recent Academy alumni who have become some of the brightest young talents on the concert stage today: Mao Fujita, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Anastasia Kobekina and Kian Soltani.
The full line-up will be announced in due course.
As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Verbier Festival set up an emergency relief fund available to freelance, self-employed and newly unemployed Verbier Festival Academy alumni. This fund continues to be available for those who need it during the pandemic. Solo, chamber and orchestral instrumentalists, singers, conductors, plus alumni production and technical crew facing lost income because of pandemic are eligible for support.
Approximately CHF 600,000 has been granted to more than 250 alumni since April. A second phase of this programme now begins with the addition of a newly received donation of CHF 100,000.
The Festival’s health and safety protocols aim to ensure a safe environment for performers, audience members, staff and volunteers. Measures will include the adjustment of venue capacities and seating plans, the presentation of shorter concerts without intermissions, as well as the wearing of masks. Quick and regular testing of musicians and team members is also being considered.
The Verbier Festival’s 2021 edition is made possible with the generous support of Madame Aline Foriel-Destezet, The Friends of the Verbier Festival, the Festival’s major philanthropic donors, including its Chairman’s Circle, the Commune de Bagnes, and of Principal Sponsors Bank Julius Baer and Neva Foundation.