Your integrity, hard work, your talent and vision have been an inspiration to me and to generations of artists. Your position is unique in the history of music as you are, in large measure, responsible for much of the invaluably rich violin repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries. By championing my work during the last ten years you have given me courage to continue. The work of a composer in our times is one of the most challenging, uncompromising and commercially unrewarding paths that a musician can choose.
Nothing is ever static in life: molecules, atoms, planets – all move in a constant dance. Similarly in art, remaining static is deadly. There are too many artists who get comfortable recycling the same ten concerti for the rest of their lives without actively searching for new challenges and discoveries. They take no risks nor accept responsibility for the continuation of our beloved art form. You are an example of true artistic honesty.
I would like to invite you to look through my eyes at what I see in Verbier, why I am hopeful about its potential, its future and am grateful for its present. This magical village perched on a mountain top generously gives more than it receives. Every day here, I witness surprises, experimentation, inspiration, successes and failures, all traits of our lives as musicians.
The gift of Verbier to the young musicians of the Academy, to the members of the Festival and Chamber Orchestras, who come from different parts of the world, and to those artists who have already achieved world-wide recognition – is one that cannot be quantified, it can only be felt, and my feelings for Verbier are strong. Two weeks can change one’s life and Verbier does it summer after summer.
This year, I see in the audience a group of children from Russia, from Urals and Siberia, where I was born. These children were brought here by the Neva Foundation so that they could experience this music festival. I am certain this will forever change their lives and their perspectives on music.
Having turned 18 years old, coming of age, Verbier is still searching for its identity, its mission, its unique place among countless other festivals. And this searching is good, because the moment one stops changing and developing, one looses the very essence of our art.
“Living music”, music of our times, of which you have been one of the greatest and bravest champions – is becoming part of Verbier’s mission, its contribution, its legacy. Works by Lowell Liebermann, Milton Babbitt, Alfred Schnittke, Richard Dubugnon, Behzad Ranjbaran, Rodion Shchedrin as well as several young Academy composers is now a major part of the Verbier experience.
One of my strongest recent impressions was the piano recital of Jorge Luis Prats. Which other major festival would dare to produce a full program of a virtually unknown 56-year old Cuban pianist? Yet, he is one of the best musicians alive and Verbier had the guts and the vision to present his recital.
Yes, Verbier is not perfect, but which festival is? Perhaps only death may be perfect, life is full of imperfections. One can always choose and Verbier, thankfully, is full of choices.
I personally hope you will choose to return to Verbier next summer and play. After all, this is what we do, this is who we are.
You will be missed here this summer. I am personally sorry not to hear you play. I am sure that the children, brought from Urals and Siberia, will be sorry not to hear you this summer and it may be very difficult for them to be able to attend your concerts any time soon. I am sure that the Academy and Orchestra’s young artists will miss you as well as your numerous friends and colleagues.
To take a stand and refuse to share your gift by canceling a concert requires courage, maybe as much courage as going on stage, if not more, but we are the ones getting hurt by it; we who love you, who admire your playing, your audiences, your friends, your students, your
followers, your colleagues.
The show must go on even when the walls around are falling down, because this is part of being an artist – accepting the imperfections of the world around and transcending the reality, transcending the gravity, creating regardless of circumstances and above all – sharing the gift of music.
I realize that Verbier may be a different experience for different people, but I wanted to share with you what I see here, because I know it will give you hope. And I do hope you will return here in the future as you are very much loved and missed.
Composer-in-Residence Verbier Festival