The Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra (VFJO) is an international orchestral training programme for musicians aged 15 to 18.
Students are coached by a roster of established players from around the globe, many of whom are Verbier Festival Orchestra alumni and who now perform in prominent orchestras including London Symphony Orchestra, Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, Orchestre de Paris and Frankfurter Opern-und Museumsorchester. Over three weeks, these young musicians learn, rehearse and perform in Verbier and Le Châble.
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James Gaffigan will be only the second Music Director of the VFJO, after founding Music Director Daniel Harding, who served from 2013 to 2016.
Gaffigan’s history with the VFJO goes right back to its beginnings having conducted the orchestra in its inaugural summer when it was known as the Verbier Festival Music Camp and has watched it evolve into a permanent and important fixture of the Verbier Festival Academy programmes. In advance of confirming his music directorship, he returned in 2019 to work with the musicians in preparation for their performances with guest conductors.
James Gaffigan will conduct all concerts of the VFJO in 2021. See the Festival programme for details.
Coachings, sectional rehearsals and private lessons are led by a roster of established orchestra members from around the world, many of whom are former musicians of the Verbier. Recent 2021 coaches are:
David Ballesteros violin
London Symphony Orchestra
Caroline Simon violin
Trondheim Symfoniorkester & Opera
German Clavijo viola
London Symphony Orchestra
Honorine Schaeffer cello
Mary Javian double bass
Philadelphia Curtis Institute of Music
Zofia Neugebauer flute
Fabien Thouand oboe
Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Aleksandar Tasic clarinet
Novi Sad Academy of Arts
Lola Descours bassoon
Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester
Paolo Mendes horn
Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Philipp Hutter trumpet
Jonathan Reith trombone
Orchestre de Paris
Iwan Jenny percussion
The VFJO works closely with Altitude, a Verbier-based summer and winter camp known internationally for its quality of service and professional staff. Altitude boasts over ten years’ experience in caring for and working with children and young adults of all ages and nationalities. Its mission is to provide a positive environment for young people to learn, laugh, and build confidence.
Altitude provides several highly qualified, experienced councillors who lead groups of no more than 15 VFJO students each. Most activities—musical and otherwise—are undertaken together with all VFJO students. These smaller groups live in the same chalets, eat their breakfasts and dinners and travel together.
English is the primary language spoken for all VFJO activities, but the staff of both the VFJO and Altitude come from many different countries and speak a variety of languages.
Students accepted to the VFJO are invited to take part tuition- and room and board-free. They are responsible only for travel, visa and insurance costs and their own pocket money.