Montreux classical festival woos younger audiences

Montreux's classical music festival opened on Friday with a new name - "Voice and Music" - and a new drive to attract more young people to live classical music performances.

This content was published on August 18, 2000 minutes

The festival, which has been going for 55 years, has tended to remain in the shadow of its more famous and illustrious Swiss rival, Lucerne's international music festival.

But the artistic director hopes the new push for popularity will change all that. This year, the festival is holding nine free concerts and more popular programming, while keeping seasoned concert-goers interested with a varied programme of symphonic and vocal music that includes several lesser-known works.

"I am trying to create something which is both elitist and popular at the same time," said Christian Chorier, the festival's French impresario from Paris.

The festival opens on Friday in Montreux's main venue, the Stravinsky Auditorium, with Berlioz's vocal work, "The Death of Cleopatra".

Chorier expects to attract a predominantly young audience to a concert of classical Neapolitan guitar music performed on period instruments in the gardens of the Casino de Montreux on August 19.

Another highlight will be a song recital by the Finnish singer, Soile Isokoski, on August 29. It also includes a programme of J.S. Bach's Italian Baroque music in the festival's third venue, the city's famous Chateau de Chillon on the banks of Lake Geneva.

The festival culminates in a rare performance of Mozart's first opera, "Il Sogno de Scipione", by the Freiburg Barock Orchestra of original instruments and the Louvre Choir with Bruce Ford, the American tenor, in the title role of Scipion.

At the end of the event, which runs until September 10, all the festival's conductors will donate their batons as prizes in a raffle to raise funds for research into an AIDS vaccine.

swissinfo with agencies

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