The Gstaad Palace plays an important part in the festival’s history. What do you associate with this hotel, which is also a bit like a big stage?
The whole Scherz family was of course involved in the project right from the start. For example, we always organise dinners in the Salle Baccarat with the artists and the audience after the concerts. At the same time, the Palace’s clientèle are among our loyal visitors. The artists also stay at the Palace and all of us from OK also have the honour of residing here. The Palace, including personnel, is an excellent partner that welcomes us “en famille” every year.
Promoting artists is one important aspect of the event. What do you focus on?
We wanted to give young talent the opportunity to perform right from the start – for example in our series of afternoon concerts. The talented young professionals also benefit from private masterclasses with established stars. And last but not least, the best interpretations are always awarded the Thierry Scherz Prize and André Hoffmann Prize. The talented musicians really appreciate the friendly exchange with the stars and are of course able to develop superb relationships for the future too.
Sommets means “peaks”. When does your heart beat with joy in the concert hall? What was your last musical peak?
The unique atmosphere in the local churches evokes emotions, the closeness to the artists makes it a very intensive experience. During my 18 years working on the event I will never forget the first concert evening in 2001, back then in Saanen church. Thierry was holding my hand, quiet tightly in fact, probably to alleviate the tension we were both feeling… and then the happiness of the huge applause at the end of the concert: a gift for the artists and us organisers too. Another highlight, just recently in 2016, was the magical performance by Renaud Capuçon together with Daniel Lozakovich, a brilliant violinist who is just 15 years old. The two of them made music almost like a couple of partners in crime – simply unforgettable.
You have had a superbly networked Artistic Director since 2016 with Renaud Capuçon – how exactly do the two of you divide up the tasks?
Renaud Capuçon has created a programme that is in keeping with the tradition of earlier editions and meets our budget. His charisma is also of huge importance when dealing with our patrons. He inspires confidence, his presence and availability for media representatives is much appreciated. As a result, I can focus more on administrative issues, such as contracts, sponsoring, PR & Marketing and accounting. It goes without saying that we continuously work closely together.
And why do you concentrate exclusively on chamber music?
We can welcome an ensemble of 45 musicians at the most in Saanen church, including soloists. We cover a large repertoire of classical music with this.
If you had one more wish: which artist would you definitely like to bring to Gstaad?
That’s a very difficult choice but let’s think and dream out loud… For example: Yo-Yo Ma, Renaud Capuçon with the young Kit Armstrong. And why not hire Jonas Kaufmann for a recital?