Just in: Lucerne boss rules himself out of top New York jobs

Just in: Lucerne boss rules himself out of top New York jobs


norman lebrecht

July 29, 2014

Michael Haefliger has made such a success of the Lucerne Festival that his name has been linked as a possible successor to Clive Gillinson at Carnegie Hall or Peter Gelb (after Götterdämmerung) at the Met. Today, however, Haefliger signed a new Lucerne contract, taking him up to 2020 and ruling himself out of US contention.

michael haefliger




Press release:

Lucerne, 29 July 2014. Michael Haefliger, Executive and Artistic Director of LUCERNE FESTIVAL, is extending his contract until the end of 2020. Haefliger has been leading the Festival in this capacity since 1999. Since he began his tenure, Haefliger has significantly shaped and advanced the Festival’s profile through such initiatives as the founding in 2003 of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA with Claudio Abbado and of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY with Pierre Boulez. In recent years he has enhanced LUCERNE FESTIVAL’s international reputation through tours undertaken by the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA and Claudio Abbado to the United States, Asia, and Europe. In the fall of 2013, together with Anish Kapoor and Irata Isozaki, Haefliger launched the innovative social project LUCERNE FESTIVAL ARK NOVA, a mobile concert hall that was presented as  a gift to the population in Japan’s earthquake-stricken Tohoku Region. Most recently, he has inaugurated pioneering approaches in Lucerne with such projects as the new concert formats represented by the LUCERNE FESTIVAL 40min and LUCERNE FESTIVAL Young Performance series.

“I am extraordinarily delighted with regard to this extension,” observes the Chairman of the Board  Hubert Achermann. “Michael Haefliger is an intendant full of energy and inspiration who values the great latitude to design programs at LUCERNE FESTIVAL and who moreover uses it with the greatest creativity – and obtains outstanding results, artistically and economically speaking. Together we face the challenge of ensuring in LUCERNE FESTIVAL’s future that, alongside the highest artistic quality, there is also continuity in times of change.”

“I am delighted and also very proud to be able to continue to set the course for LUCERNE FESTIVAL’s future in my role as Executive and Artistic Director”, Michael Haefliger explains. “Both for the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA and for the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY, the challenge now is to create exciting new perspectives and to further develop their profiles. The realm of youth-oriented programs known as the Young series will also be expanded as the third main pillar of LUCERNE FESTIVAL. We need to attract new target audiences through such efforts as new concert formats and innovative and experimental approaches. Continuing international activities for the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA and the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY and projects like the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ARK NOVA are important to further establish the Festival’s global reputation. Following the great success in 2013, there are plans for a second realization of the ARK NOVA in the fall of 2014 in Japan, and we are also working on bringing the mobile concert hall to New York and of course also to Switzerland in the coming years. The plans for a new music theater in Lucerne represent a hopeful new perspective for LUCERNE FESTIVAL. The latest developments in the legal proceedings involving the funds of the Salle Modulable make me optimistic about the path toward making the new performance space a reality.  It is important for me to integrate LUCERNE FESTIVAL into this planning process as optimally as possible in the coming years and to contribute to building up the realm of music theater for LUCERNE FESTIVAL.”



  • Nick says:

    “an intendant full of energy and inspiration . . . uses it with the greatest creativity – and obtains outstanding results artistically and economically.”

    Bravo Lucerne! Can anyone on the Met Board put hand on heart and say anything nearly as praiseworthy of its General Manager? The answer is clearly “no” given that the Lucerne Board Chairman specifically links inspiration, creativity and outstanding artistic results alongside financial prudence! A lesson for all Boards and an example to all Intendants and aspiring Intendants.

  • Manu says:

    Yeah, well… running a festival in Switzerland with invited orchestras is not exactly the same as running the biggest opera house and company worldwide…

    • Nick says:

      Certainly it is nowhere near as big as the Met! But then I never said that. You seem confused about the point I was making. This was: if the top management Met had the energy, inspiration and creativity AND could produce outstanding results artistically and economically as Lucerne does (please note the linking of artistry and economic results), it would almost certainly not be in the mess it is in.

      And by the way, if you look at that statement and see some of the creative innovations the Festival is making to develop new audiences, perhaps you can advise us of similar initiatives by the Met. After all, did not Mr Gelb inform the world on his appointment that he would basically grow his way out of the recession? By that he meant new audiences. Apart from increasing the number of new productions, what has he actually done to go out into the community to build those new audiences? I really am curious.