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Musical Feast kicks off Easter Festival in Lucerne

Lucerne's Easter Festival gets underway this weekend with its traditional blend of classical and religious music in churches and the city's new concert hall.

Lucerne's Easter Festival gets underway this weekend with its traditional blend of classical and religious music in churches and the city's new concert hall.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Bernhard Haitink is the guest orchestra, and soloists include Anne-Sophie Mutter, Cecilia Bartoli and Murray Perahia. Organisers say it's important that concerts reflect the various facets of Easter, so the programme includes choral music in the Jesuit and Franciscan churches.

For those who managed to get tickets - they were sold out some time ago - perhaps the highlight will be the Violin Concerto in G minor KV 216 played by the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra conducted by Saiji Ozawa, with soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter.

The youth orchestra has spent the last two weeks in the Bürgenstock hotel resort above Lucerne, in intensive rehearsals for its Easter tour, which follows the festival.

Twenty-five nationalities are represented in the orchestra, which for the second consecutive year is the festival orchestra-in residence.

"Apart from the fact that we are greatly honoured to have such a close relationship with one of the world's leading festivals," says its general secretary, Alexander Meraviglia-Crivelli, "we are totally dependent on the infrastructure and welcoming spirit for our rehearsal period on the Bürgenstock."

The compliment was returned by the artistic director of the festival, Michael Haefliger. "In my view it is the best youth orchestra, and its residency represents our wish to support the young musicians," he said.

The festival ends on April 16.

by Richard Dawson

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