Rhinegold Photo credit: Vera Hartmann

Melissa Bradshaw

James Gaffigan appointed music director of Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra

5:11, 20th January 2020

The Verbier Festival has announced James Gaffigan as music director of its Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra (VFJO).  

An international orchestral training programme made up of 57 musicians aged 15 – 18, the VFJO performs two concerts and an opera at each Verbier Festival, providing a pool of talent from which musicians aged 18 – 28 are chosen for the Festival’s training orchestra, the Verbier Festival Orchestra (VFO). VFO alumni then make up the festival’s resident professional orchestra, the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra (VFCO).

As music director designate, Gaffigan will be advisor for the 2020 season and will be putting plans into place for his first season as music director in 2021. He will be the VFJO’s second music director after founding music director Daniel Harding, who served from 2013 – 2016. Gaffigan first conducted the orchestra in its inaugural summer when it was known as the Verbier Festival Music Camp.

‘I myself am a product of summer festivals and youth orchestras,’ comments Gaffigan. ‘I can’t stress how essential this is to the development of a young musician. The Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra is a perfect and safe environment for young musicians to develop and flourish to their fullest potential … These young musicians that make up the junior orchestra at Verbier are brilliant musicians and people who have every possibility in front of them.’

Martin Engstroem, Verbier Festival founder and director added: ‘The qualities demanded of a music director of an orchestra made up of an international group of teenagers is manifold. It is not only about technical instruction, but about creating an inspirational environment where these gifted kids from very different backgrounds can thrive – both artistically and emotionally. Having closely followed James’s work with our orchestra I believe that we have found the right person.’



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