The Friends of the Verbier Festival : “To support the association is to support Verbier”

For 30 years, the Verbier Festival has contributed to the reputation of our resort both in Switzerland and internationally. Since its inception, the Verbier Festival Academy has been a global reference in identifying, encouraging, and training the young soloists of tomorrow. Every year, emerging young artists come to Verbier to benefit from the teachings of the greatest masters and to exchange creative ideas.Behind the scenes, The Friends Association plays an essential role in supporting the development of the Festival. Comprised of music-loving donors, it enables the realisation of artistic and educational projects. Through the Association, 60 lodgings are provided to Academy students, artists, and staff members. Additionally, scholarships are awarded to students. Finally, during the Festival, dinners with artists from around the world are organised by The Friends.The president of The Friends of the Verbier Festival Association, Julien Tron, and the manager, Marie-Jo Valente, answer our questions.

Marie-Jo Valente and Julien Tronc (©Alpimages)

What are the 3 good reasons for locals to join The Friends ?

Marie-Jo : Being part of The Friends allows for involvement in the Festival’s activities, creating lasting connections, and actively contributing to the region’s promotion.

Julien : Supporting The Friends of the Festival is supporting Verbier. It allows for creating an extraordinary image of the resort. It also supports young people, as the majority of the Festival’s Academy and orchestra training programmes are composed of young musicians who are the new musical talents of tomorrow. It’s also about being part of an artistically dynamic and intense summer event.

Post-concert diner with the musiciens of the Verbier Festival Orchestra (VFO)

During the Festival, what happens for The Friends ?

Marie-Jo : During the Festival, members of The Friends frequently attend concerts (chamber music at the church and symphonic concerts at Salle des Combins), Academy masterclasses, and activities offered by the Festival’s creative laboratory, UNLTD.

In the evenings, dinners for artists are organised by our association and provided by The Friends.

There is also the annual general meeting during the Festival. Our members can participate in decisions concerning the association. Friendly events are also offered such as the annual Friends’ raclette and backstage visits.

A few days before the Festival, hosts and donors are invited to a breakfast with the Academy students. This is also the time to get to know each other and discuss the program for the following three weeks.

Finally, The Friends’ dedicated bar on the Esplanade des Combins is a highly popular venue during the intermissions.

A friendly atmosphere (©Alpimages)

Outside of the Festival ?

Marie-Jo : At the beginning of winter, we offer a special opportunity to The Friends who would like to participate in the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra’s tour in Bavaria, an event that takes place at the splendid Schloss Elmau hotel.

At the end of the year, a New Year’s concert is organised by our association at the Verbier Church for both Friends and the general public. This is a way to gather in a friendly atmosphere during the holiday season and to remind that the Verbier Festival is part of the local scene throughout the year.

Can families also enjoy The Friends and the Festival ?

Julien : The Verbier Festival is very open to families. Numerous concerts may interest young children, especially those performed by the Junior Orchestra composed of young talents from around the world. Additionally, the UNLTD program offers a significant series of events that may interest younger audiences. Masterclasses can be visited with children, and it is on these occasions that passions can be ignited… It’s worth noting that special pricing policies are applied for families as well.

The Association organises dinners for the artists.

Any memorable highlights to share ?

Marie-Jo : What is very touching is the relationships that develop between hosts and the artists they welcome. At first, they do not know each other, and on the last day, during farewells, sometimes we see that they embrace and promise to stay in touch. These moments are filled with emotions.

Julien : There are Friends who have been present since the beginning, for 30 years. Sometimes, their own children are also Friends now. These are long, heartfelt stories, and often the anecdotes are very touching. They have formed friendships, hosted musicians, and discovered new cultures.

The Friends meet young artists.

What does the Festival represent for you and for Verbier ?

Marie-Jo : The Festival is a magical place where I can experience timeless moments of music. As the manager of The Friends, I am committed to ensuring that the Festival shines through the Association and that it becomes vibrant and an integral part of the resort’s activities throughout the year.

Julien : The Festival is recognised as one of the leading concerts in the world, where young people develop at the highest level thanks to the presence of some of the greatest established musicians in the world. The quality of the event is astounding, and this is due to the great energy expended by the selected young musicians.

They return to their many countries with an image of Verbier in their minds.

The Festival’s renown on the global stage, and by extension, Verbier, is often underestimated. We should be proud of it.

A wish for 2024 and the Festival ?

Marie-Jo : My wish is to be able to meet The Friends again in 2024 and for the local community to expand with new hosts wanting to offer a unique experience for the young talents they welcome. And of course… to enable the Festival to continue to surpass expectations.

Julien : I wish that the celebration continues to be beautiful, that the joviality remains, and that The Friends’ foundation grows stronger. The association is a pillar of the Festival and accounts for approximately 10 % of the Festival’s budget. There are no Friends without the Festival and no Festival without The Friends !”

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