David Whelton_c_Marcel Giger
David Whelton, © Marcel Giger

An integral part of the musical landscape

The fifth anniversary of Klosters Music is history. We are now looking ahead to the sixth festival edition in 2024, which has the motto “Begegnungen. People and Places”. Before the programme is published, Georg Rudiger spoke to Artistic Director David Whelton about the significant growth in the audience, upcoming programme highlights and Klosters Music’s recipe for success.

Most classical music organizers are struggling with falling audience numbers. Klosters Music, on the other hand, gained 20 percent more audience in the summer 2023. How do you explain this?

Since its foundation, Klosters Music has worked step by step to provide a festival experience of the highest quality. In 2023 we celebrated our fifth anniversary with a series of outstanding concerts which consolidated our reputation internationally as a highly respected Swiss summer festival which is now a distinct part of the Swiss musical landscape. This, together with our strong links with the village, attracted record audiences from the Graubünden and further afield.

The motto of the upcoming festival is Begegnungen. People and Places. How is it reflected in the program?

Throughout history musicians have travelled across the world and our programmes this year reflect these musical encounters. Dvořák 9th Symphony, “From the New World” is probably the famous example, but so is Sibelius’s Karelia Suite. We travel with Maurice Steger and Nuria Rial through the 17th and 18th century from Spain to Rome in the company of Falconieri, Monteverdi, Vivaldi and, of course, Händel. With the City Light Symphony Orchestra, all roads lead to Hollywood.

We are bringing together two giants of a later era in an evening dedicated to the great artist Giovanni Segantini accompanied by the songs of Gustav Mahler, a first for Klosters Music.

Thomas Hampson is one of the most famous singers in the world. In Klosters he will interpret songs from the “Great American Songbook”. What do you expect from this evening with the title “Blue Skies”?

Some years ago, at a post-concert dinner in the Royal Festival Hall, much to my surprise and delight, I spent the evening discussing the “Great American Songbook” with the legendary baritone, Tom Hampson. We made tentative plans for concerts, but the dates never worked out until now! Thomas Hampson, the “Ambassador of American Song” together with the irrepressible Janoska Ensemble, will bring a unique perspective to this timeless repertoire and provide an unforgettable experience for our Klosters audience.

It is important for you to bring certain artists with specific pieces to Klosters. Jan Lisiecki will play Grieg‘s piano concerto, Alina Ibragimova Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 3, Ben Goldscheider Mozart’s Violin Horn Concerto No 4. What do you expect from these combinations?

The relationship between artists and repertoire is the key to good concert planning. Jan Lisiecki is a pianist in the great romantic tradition, perfect for the Grieg concerto. Alina Ibragimova is an exceptional violinist of great sensitivity with an innate understanding of classical style. Her Bach performances are much sought after, and she is currently working with Maxim Emelyanychev on a Mozart concerto project, so perfect timing for us. Ben Goldscheider is a young virtuoso with a commitment to commissioning new music and expanding the horn repertoire. His curiosity and musicianship guarantee a fresh approach to this most well-known horn concerto – sparks will fly!

The concerts with films and its music, live played by the City Light Symphony Orchestra, are very popular in Klosters. In 2024 you will present a concert with film music of different Oscar-winning movies. Is this a kind of best of?

This year we are showcasing the scores which provide the emotional life to some of the most outstanding movies of our time. Writing a great movie theme requires great talent and I am keen to offer our audience the opportunity to enjoy this music in a concert format where the orchestra is the star. It’s a thrilling experience.