2021 Details Coming Soon
The Verbier Festival Orchestra (VFO) is a rite of passage for today’s exceptional young orchestra musicians aged 18 to 28. It is recognised as one of the best training orchestras on the planet. Since its founding in 2000, the orchestra has brought together rising talents with the foremost conductors and soloists of our time. Nowhere else in the world does the Orchestra’s Music Director Valery Gergiev spend more time in one place each summer than in Verbier.
The Academy’s Conducting Programme offers a stepping stone to emerging conductors, aged 20 to 35, who are on the verge of leading orchestras at the highest level.

Verbier Festival Orchestra

Mentorship with Valery Gergiev, VFO Music Director,
generously supported by

The VFO includes 97 musicians aged 18 to 28; normally half of its musicians are accepted new to the programme each year. Once accepted, musicians may, upon re-invitation, take part in the VFO for two (exceptionally three) years. Musicians receive intensive coaching from principals of New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in preparation for three weeks of rehearsals and concerts with its esteemed Music Director and guest conductors.

VFO alumni have gone on to join leading orchestras around the world, including Berlin, New York and Vienna Philharmonics, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, and Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, and entirely make up the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra.



Video Auditions: Applications are now closed. The deadline was 27 January 2020.
Live Auditions: Applications are now closed. The deadline was 15 December 2019.


Candidates were informed of the Academy’s decision 9 March 2020. The names of successful candidates were posted on Wednesday 25 March.

Conducting Programme

with the generous support of
Nadia & David Sela

Four young conductors are accepted to the Academy’s Conducting Programme. They take part in section training led by 12 established musicians from New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, as well as tutti rehearsals led by Derrick Inouye, the VFO’s Assistant Conductor. They will, where possible, collaborate with Maestro Inouye as he prepares the VFO for its Festival performances, and with  Simon Crawford Phillips, Assistant Conductor of the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra (VFJO), in preparation for that orchestra’s three concerts. Throughout the Festival, students may perform assistant conductor duties for Valery Gergiev and other visiting conductors of the VFO, VFJO and Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra (VFCO).

Other activities include:

  • A collective meeting with Maestro Gergiev
  • A mentorship meeting with Festival Founder & Director Martin T:son Engstroem
  • A roundtable discussion with Gabór Takács-Nagy, VFCO Music Director
  • Public performances of small ensemble works when possible

This is a largely self-directed programme, and participants with flexibility, openness and personal-initiative will benefit the most from the many opportunities that are presented. Students are urged to attend and take part in as many activities as possible during their time at the Festival.



Applications are now closed. The deadline was 15 December 2019.


Candidates were informed of the Academy’s decision 9 March 2020. The names of successful candidates were posted on Wednesday 25 March.

Valery Gergiev in rehearsal with the VFO (2015)

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 ‘Pathétique’

Lucie Leguay’s Road To Verbier

Second episode of three-partseries chronicalling the 2019 Academy conductor’s experience at the Verbier Festival, courtesy of Bank Julius Baer, Principal Sponsor of the Verbier Festival

Valery Gergiev, Music Director

Arguably the most distinguished conductor in the world, Valery Gergiev is a champion of discovering and nurturing new musical talent. He is a vivid representative of the St Petersburg conducting school and a former pupil of the legendary Professor Ilya Musin. In 1988 Maestro Gergiev was appointed Music Director of the Mariinsky Theatre, and in 1996 became its Artistic and General Director. Under his direction, the Mariinsky Theatre has become a major theatre and concert complex, without par anywhere in the world. Despite a schedule that would daunt even the busiest politician, Maestro Gergiev has been a regular visitor to the Verbier Festival and, in 2018, was appointed Music Director of the Verbier Festival Orchestra.

Guest Conductors 2020

Christoph Eschenbach
Antonio Pappano
Gianandrea Noseda

Mikhaïl Pletnev

Other Conducting Mentors 2020

John Axelrod
Pablo Heras-Casado
Stanislav Kochanovsky
Lahav Shani
Gabór Takács-Nagy

Coaches 2020

In preparation for work with their formidable maestro and other distinguished conductors, VFO musicians and Academy Conductors receive intensive coaching from musicians of New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

Derrick Inouye conductor
Caterina Szepes violin
Nancy Wu violin
Désirée Elsevier viola
Dorothea Figueroa cello
Leigh Mesh double bass
Chelsea Knox flute
Nathan Hughes oboe
Jessica Phillips clarinet
William Short bassoon
Joseph Anderer horn
David Langlitz brass
Greg Zuber percussion