Media Release

Published on 13 Mar 2024
Academy and Orchestra students 2024

The Verbier Festival announces Academy and Orchestra students for its 2024 edition

March 13, 2024 — VERBIER (Switzerland) The Verbier Festival today announced that 208 musicians from 36 nations have been invited to take part in its prestigious Academy and Orchestra training programmes in summer 2024. A near record 2,214 applications were received from candidates from 80 countries.

Artist training is at the heart of the Verbier Festival’s DNA. The Festival’s Academy and Orchestra Programmes have been a career launchpad for many of today’s most sought-after soloists, chamber ensembles, singers, orchestral players and conductors.

New Mentors and Highlights

The reputation of the Academy and Orchestras is linked in large part to the prestigious mentors who inspire students to apply each year.

  • New to the Soloist programme faculty in 2024 is violist Máté Szücs, former principal violist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and American cellist Alisa Weilerstein.
  • A who’s who from the world of opera and song will lead masterclasses for the Academy’s Atelier Lyrique: sopranos Sandrine Piau and Golda Schultz, and baritone Leo Nucci. Mr Nucci will work with the Atelier Lyrique’s singers in the preparation of Verdi’s Falstaff, which will be presented on the final afternoon of the Festival in collaboration with the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra.
  • As part of the Academy’s mission to nurture versatile musicians, violinist, singer and composer Yilian Cañizares will lead two masterclasses in improvision. Cañizares is the Laureate of the Prix Suisse de Musique 2021 and is a violin teacher at the École de jazz et de musique actuelle in Lausanne. She regularly appears on numerous international stages and is heavily influenced by African, Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz music. Cañizares will also perform at the Festival as part of UNLTD.
  • A highlight for Verbier Festival Orchestra musicians will be the opportunity to prepare and perform Mahler’s third and fifth symphonies with Sir Simon Rattle and Klaus Mäkelä respectively. “This possibility to learn from two of the greatest living conductors and to perform two of the most majestic symphonic works in the repertoire is something unique to the DNA of Verbier,” commented Academy Director Stephen McHolm.
Nurturing Junior Students

Each year, the Academy identifies a few junior students, aged 13 to 15, with the intention of inspiring them to continue their studies and to return to Verbier in a future year as full students. The Academy aims to accompany the brightest of these young talents over the long-term, helping them find their way as professional musicians. Junior student alumni include violinists Daniel Lozakovich and Maria Dueñas, both of whom have a flourishing career.

This year, three junior students have been accepted to the Academy’s Soloists programme, the young American pianist, Xinran Shi (age 14) and violinists Nikita Evgeny Koller (age 14 from Switzerland) and Mariam Abouzahra (age 15 of Egyptian, German and Hungarian nationality). Miss Abouzahra previously attended the Academy as an observing Junior Artist of Promise, together with her sister, violinist Amira Abouzahra, who returns this year as a full Academy student. Geneva-based Russian pianist Ekaterina Bonyushkina also returns, after having attended as a junior student in 2019.

Returning Alumni

Three recent laureates of the Academy’s Prix Yves Paternot return to the Festival for performances this summer. The Prix Yves Paternot is awarded each summer to the Academy’s most accomplished and promising musician. Cellist Bryan Cheng (Laureate 2022) will be featured in two chamber music recitals alongside veterans of the Festival. Soprano Meigui Zhang (Laureate 2019) will perform the role of Barbarina in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro with the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra conducted by Gábor Takács-Nagy. Swiss baritone Milan Siljanov (Laureate 2016) returns to the Festival to take on the role of Falstaff. Other alumni performing on the Mainstage include Michael Bell (tenor), Alexandra Conunova (violin), Mao Fujita (piano), Kirill Gerstein (piano), Daniel Lozakovich (violin), Edgar Moreau (cello), Timothy Ridout (viola), and Quatuor Ébène.

Masterclasses and Rehearsals Open to All

The Verbier Festival Academy offers more than 90 masterclasses and workshops free and open to the public. Advance reservation via the Festival’s website at is recommended. Most orchestra general / dress rehearsals are also free and open to the public. These rehearsals will be listed on Festival’s website starting in June.

Statistics, Student Names, Festival and Masterclass programme

The Verbier Festival is a classical music festival that encourages sharing between great musicians and young aspiring artists from around the world. It is committed to excellence in music performance and education through its highly respected artistic programme, Academy and community engagement programmes. The next edition of the Verbier Festival will take place July 18 to August 4, 2024 in Verbier (Switzerland). The Festival is made possible with the generous support of its many private and public supporters, including Aline Foriel-Destezet, the Association of The Friends of the Verbier Festival, the Festival’s Chairman’s Circle, the Commune of Val de Bagnes, and the Festival’s Principal Sponsors, Reyl Bank & Cie and SICPA.


Neile Thiry
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Rebecca Johns
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Thierry Messonnier
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Roberta Barbaro
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