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New orchestra makes its debut in Verbier

The American conductor, James Levine, will lead the Verbier Festival orchestra. Keystone

Some 40 cultural events including the appearance of a new orchestra are scheduled in Verbier this summer during the resort's annual Festival and Academy.

The festival begins on Friday with the debut of its resident ensemble, the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra, conducted by James Levine in a programme of Dvorak, Sarasate, Mahler, Gershwin and Schubert.

Other artists who will be performing include Zubin Mehta, Evgeny Kissin, Martha Argerich, the violinist Kennedy and Marthe Keller.

But not all the music will be classical. One evening is devoted to what the organisers call “steamy” Cuban rhythms; another will be an unusual combination of the traditional Portuguese fado and the Argentine tango.

Nor will all the entertainment be musical. The Nigerian writer and Nobel prizewinner, Wole Soyinka, has chosen Verbier to host a first reading and study of his text “Sauna Bash”. This is a new interpretation of Alfred Jarry’s “Ubu Roi”, which takes place in an African country in the 21st century.

Its director is Jonathan Miller, who auditioned in Nigeria, England and Switzerland for the leading roles, and several rehearsals will be open to the public.

The 17-day programme also includes a series of workshops and master classes on various branches of the performing arts. There will also be outdoor concerts of classical and folk music, and jazz and improvisation.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR