The list of classical music competitions is endless. Their goal is always the same: to give the main prize to the best musician according to “objective” criteria, as it were. But every judgement of an artistic activity is ultimately based on purely subjective criteria. And this is where the Orpheum Foundation for the Advancement of Young Soloists starts its work. It does not organise competitions. Instead, an Artistic Board of Trustees – roughly a dozen leading performers – helps to seek out exceptional young talents who are in the best position to profit from Orpheum’s advancement concept. This essentially comprises enabling artistic encounters at the very highest level. Outstandingly talented young musicians work together with experienced conductors and renowned orchestras, and thereby enjoy a decisive musical stimulus. Prestigious appearances such as these, along with the networking that they make possible, can give an impetus to their career that can often prove decisive.
The Artistic Board of Trustees never comes together for meetings or even to form a collective opinion. On the contrary: all the members make their own judgements within the subjective horizons of their own artistic activities. A member of the Board will propose a young, talented musician to the Orpheum Foundation whom he or she deems worthy of supporting. As a rule, the Board member will have heard the soloist several times already, whether at a personal audition or in a concert. In particular, the conductors on the Board of Trustees regularly propose young soloists with whom they have already worked, and with whom they have enjoyed an encouraging collaboration. Sometimes it happens that two members of the Board of Trustees propose the same young musician. In parallel to this, artists’ agencies may also recommend young musicians to Orpheum. Musicians may also apply in person. The final decision as to which of the young musicians are taken up into the Orpheum advancement programme is made by the Foundation’s Artistic Director, Howard Griffiths.
The young instrumentalists are not just given a high-quality audio recording of their performance to use as a reference while further establishing their career. They are also given a video portrait with interviews and excerpts from their concerts. In today’s social networks, these are proving to be an increasingly indispensable tool. The Orpheum Foundation also invites top-level representatives of orchestras, event organisers, agencies and the press to its concerts – along with politicians and businessmen – in order to help the young musicians to use their appearance with Orpheum to establish a long-term public relations network.
The choice of work is of decisive importance for a successful performance on the part of the young soloists. This is why they also have a say in the choice of repertoire for their Orpheum concert. In this and all other questions pertaining to their concert and its long-term impact, the Orpheum Foundation acts in an advisory capacity. Because building up a career is not just about possessing exceptional talent and delivering high-level artistic performances – it also needs a lot of patience, consistency, experience and expertise. The Orpheum Foundation for the Advancement of Young Soloists has set itself the goal of making a successful contribution to this – and has been doing so for 25 years. The Foundation is constantly endeavouring, vigorously and proactively, to adapt its sponsorship structures to the shifting needs of the times. New projects are thus developed to complement the existing programmes. With “Labor Bar Classic”, the Orpheum Foundation has launched a new, urban concert format in collaboration with the Zurich Cancer League and the TV talk show host Kurt Aeschbacher. Sony Classical is producing a new Orpheum CD series, and together with musical personalities from the worlds of politics, culture, business and science, the Foundation has created the Orpheum Supporters Orchestra – all to the benefit of the next generation of soloists.
The summer issue of the culture magazine DU offers more extensive information on the special structures of the Orpheum Foundation. This comprehensive documentation is also published as a DU Special Edition.
For a complete list of all Orpheum soloists and details of their performances (with date, repertoire, orchestra, conductor), please go to Soloists.
Alice Sara Ott
Martin Grubinger, Percussion
Reto Bieri, Clarinet
Giuliano Sommerhalder, Trumpet