Verbier is forced to ‘reimagine’ its festival

Verbier is forced to ‘reimagine’ its festival


norman lebrecht

July 14, 2021

Following an outbreak of Covid infections and the sending home of academy members, the 2021 Verbier Festival is being reconfigured two days before its opening.

Here’s the press statement:

July 14, 2021 – VERBIER (Switzerland) — The Verbier Festival is reimagining the programme for its 28th edition, bringing together exceptional artists for more unique encounters and unexpected collaborations. True to the spirit of the Festival, the necessary changes to the
programming have paved the way for even more exciting opportunities for concerts and events, featuring artists who were already programmed to perform in the Swiss Alps this summer.

“Over the years, we’ve created a close family of musicians—a community of artists who come together to make each edition of our Festival truly special,” comments Martin Engstroem, Founder & Director of the Verbier Festival. “It’s because of these close ties that we’re able to
quickly pivot to reshape our programme this summer under these exceptional circumstances. We’re all so grateful to have this family by our side”….

The Festival has made the necessary decision that the Verbier Festival Orchestra musicians can no longer perform at the Festival this year and will instead return home. The positive cases were immediately identified and contained to the VFO, with a period of isolation and quarantine for orchestra musicians that does not accommodate for the ample training and rehearsal time needed for performances. In light of these developments, the productions of La fanciulla del West and Tristan & Isolde (Act II) will be reprogrammed, with solo recitals and exciting collaborations between the 2021 Festival artists.

Safety measures are being reinforced in the Verbier Festival Academy’s other programmes, including the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra, the Atelier Lyrique, and the Soloists & Ensembles Programme. Festivalgoers are subject to contact tracing and physical distancing measures at all events and must wear masks inside all venues.


  • V.Lind says:

    So “reimagining” is the weasel word for “changing”?

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    Sorrow for the young musicians up there. This message seems a bit of a reach to keep patrons in the seats. I can’t imagine it would be a pleasant trip.
    I wonder if anyone is flying Delta to get there, or if Delta is flying up there? First class ticket will be costly either way, best to avoid.
    Enjoy time at the lake

    As my firm’s partners like to say,
    Bulls don’t carry chocolate milk.

  • Swiss says:

    I was very sorry to read about the VFO musicians being sent home due to a Covid outbreak within its ranks. I am though shocked and disappointed that the director of the festival tries to sugar-coat the realities that we are all now facing and attempt to paint the picture that things will carry on, albeit with a few tweeks to the programmes! This attitude shows no consideration for the health and well-being of both those musicians who are scheduled to perform and the audience who may attend. On this very site we read today about the music festival near Utrecht in the Netherlands that witnessed over two short days of their festival a Covid outbreak of 1,000 cases among attendees. Does Mr. Engstroem believe that Swiss neutrality and the alps will protect them from yet more Covid cases at this year’s festival? How irresponsible! You would think that after having an outbreak within the ranks of the Festival Orchestra, that would be enough of an alarm bell to know that there is a high risk of this repeating itself at the festival, yet he spins a “feel good” story that the show goes on and everything is fine. Even an unvaccinated fool could see through this.
    With only 10 new cases in Melbourne, Australia, the State Government there has locked down the entire city of 5 million, yet the Verbier Festival will risk the health and safety of its supposedly beloved musical family and the audience and sponsors that have kept it afloat all these years. It hurts me too, but please cancel the festival Mr. Engstroem! Human life and safety are more important than any festival, one that we all hopefully can attend next year.