91% Capacity at this year’s Lucerne Festival in Summer


The 2017 Lucerne Summer Festival

Just a day or two before the end of this summer’s Lucerne Festival, the Press Office has announced both a prolongation of Michael Haefliger’s contract as Executive and Artistic Director (until 2025) and some impressive audience figures.

This year a total of 78,600 concertgoers visited the Summer Lucerne Festival: the 82 events to which tickets were sold had an average capacity of 91% (20 events were sold out); 43 admission-free events were additionally offered.

The Summer Festival, which this year focused on the theme of “Identity”, concludes this coming Sunday evening with a symphony concert (Mahler’s Sixth Symphony) by the Vienna Philharmonic under the direction of Daniel Harding.

A parade of the most highly-renowned international symphony orchestras once again appeared night after night onstage in the KKL Lucerne this summer, among them the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Mariinsky Orchestra and the Orchestre de l’Opéra National de Paris. Daniel Barenboim, Riccardo Chailly, Charles Dutoit, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Daniele Gatti, Valery Gergiev, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Bernard Haitink, Manfred Honeck, Philippe Jordan and Sir Simon Rattle were among the stars who appeared on the podium, and the concert stage hosted such eminent soloists as Martha Argerich, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Leonidas Kavakos and Daniil Trifonov. Two rapidly rising stars of the young generation were in the spotlight as “artistes étoiles”: the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and the cellist Jay Campbell, who showed their experimental side in free-admission formats as well as performing as soloists in the concert hall.

It is interesting to compare the Lucerne Festival with the Proms in London. I don’t have audience figures for the Proms to hand, but the Royal Albert Hall is considerably larger than the KKL and there are, I think, more concerts at the Proms. A few things spring to mind: the audience is (still) conservatively dressed in Lucerne (but not “black tie” as in Salzburg or Bayreuth – the Swiss don’t generally have dinner jackets); you won’t spot sneakers or jeans [Ed. Actually you might now see these at Bayreuth!]. The audience is very international. Many combine the concerts with fresh, cool mountain air and a visit to the Alps, a stone’s throw from Lucerne. On the down side, ticket prices bear no comparison with the Proms – top prices in Lucerne are probably around three times higher than in London. There are of course no Prommers in Lucerne, though there are some “cheap” seats in the Gods (4th balcony, not for vertigo sufferers). The KKL has splendid acoustics, by the same team that assisted Symphony Hall in Birmingham as Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla was quick to point out during her concert. The KKL also has quiet and efficient air-conditioning. The Albert Hall can be a swelter and the acoustics are, let us say, difficult. But both festivals share one thing – fine music by fine musicians.

John Rhodes

For more about the Lucerne Festival click here.

Leave a Comment