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Lucerne Festival launched in blaze of glory

Fireworks illuminate the Lucerne Culture Centre on the opening night of the Festival

(Keystone)

This year's Lucerne Festival, featuring the musical luminary Daniel Barenboim and world-class orchestras, was inaugurated with a spectacular firework display this week.

Over 30,000 spectators gathered on the shores of Lake Lucerne to watch a boat travel down from the blazing Pilatus mountain, spitting flames and fireworks as it journeyed to the Lucerne Cultural Centre.

The fiery spectacle was devised to evoke the myth of Prometheus, which is one of stories being used to illustrate the theme of this year's Festival, "Creation".

The event, previously called the International Festival of Music, is a must for all lovers of classical music as it showcases not only great works of classical music, but also works by contemporary and lesser-known composers.

The 2001 Festival is the last in a thematic trilogy, which first began in 1999 with the theme "Myths".

In keeping with this year's theme "Creation", the Cambridge University astronomer, Sir Martin J. Rees, is to give a talk on "The Beginning and End of the Universe", which will range from astrology to atomic waste.

Running until September 15, this is the longest Festival concert season to date. A total of 28 symphonies will be played, including seven first performances.

Beethoven

Prometheus also makes a musical appearance in the opening concert of this year's festival was the "Geschöpfe des Prometheus", by Ludwig von Beethoven. Other highlights are Alexander Skryabin's "Promethée. Le poème du feu", as well as Richard Strauss's "Also sprach Zarathustra", and "The Planets" by Gustav Holst.

Naturally, the festival would not be complete without Joseph Haydn's "The Creation", which will be played on August 26.

Alongside famous works of music, the IMF is also featuring works by both contemporary and lesser-known composers. There will be a lavish production of Luigi Noto's "Prometeo", performed for the first time in Switzerland, on August 24 and 25.

This year's two composers-in-residence are the American composer, Elliot Carter, and Hanspeter Kyburz, a Swiss composer teaching in Basel and just beginning to establish himself on an international scale.

World-class musicians

The virtuoso violinist, Anne-Sophie Mutter, is this year's star guest, and she will show off the full-range of her talents by performing as a soloist, conductor and presenting her own recital.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, is the 2001 orchestra-in-residence, and will perform three times. The orchestra will from now on play regularly at future seasons of the IMF.

Other internationally renowned orchestras performing in Lucerne include the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras and the Amsterdam Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

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