GAIA Music Festival

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Audience response at GAIA

The GAIA Music Festival founded by the violinist Gwendolyn Masin is described as one of the most important festivals in Switzerland.[1] The festival is hosted in Oberhofen on the Lake of Thun, usually in the month of May. The Festival is non-profit. The Festival's director since 2015 is Jacqueline Keller. From 2010 until 2014, the Patron of the Festival was David Zinman.


The GAIA Chamber Music Festival was founded in 2006, and hosted near Stuttgart, where it was rewarded by two consecutive years of highly-praised programmes and sold-out halls. The Festival was honoured with the Göppinger Kulturpreis[2] for its outstanding impact on the cultural landscape. In 2009, the Festival made its debut in and around Thun. In 2014, the Festival was renamed to GAIA Music Festival. In 2015, the Festival made Oberhofen on the Lake of Thun its central location.

Gwendolyn Masin, István Várdai, Balint Zsoldos during a concert at the 2014 edition of GAIA


Each year, artists from all over the globe spend just over a week living and working together in Thun. The invitees, reflecting GAIA's objectives, have contributed to the world of arts in unusual and exciting ways. So far more than eighty artists have performed at the GAIA Festival.

Artists featured[edit]

Violin: Gabriel Adorján, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Sandrine Cantoreggi, Daniel Garlitsky, Philippe Graffin, Anke Dill, Ilya Hoffmann, Esther Hoppe, Wonji Kim, Luke Kehoe-Roche, Yura Lee, Gwendolyn Masin, Ronald Masin, Gina Maria McGuinness, Lena Neudauer, Sergey Ostrovsky, Igor Ozim, Rosanne Philippens, Rahel Rilling, Tatiana Samouil, Artiom Shishkov, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Abbie Soon, Jan Talich, Mary Ellen Woodside

Viola: Alessandro D'Amico, Guy Ben-Ziony, Gérard Caussé, Isabel Charisius, Jan Gruening, Ilya Hoffman, Yura Lee, Anna Lipkind, Lilli Maijala, Vladimir Mendelssohn, Natalia Tchitch, Mikhail Zemtsov, Dana Zemtsov

Cello: Dávid Adorján, Claudio Bohórquez, Alexander Chaushian, Thomas Demenga, Chiara Enderle, Christopher Franzius, Pavel Gomziakov, Frans Helmerson, Louise Hopkins, Christopher Jepson, Guy Johnston, Aleksei Kiseliov, Gavriel Lipkind, Philippe Muller, David Pia, Timora Rosler, Martti Rousi, Jakob Spahn, Torleif Thedéen, István Várdai, Quirine Viersen

Cimbalom: Miklós Lukács

Harpsichord: Vital Julian Frey

Contrabass: Massimo Pinca

Flute: Kaspar Zehnder

Clarinet: Yevgeny Yehudin, Don Li, Reto Bieri

Bassoon: Martin Kuuskmann

Saxophone: Daniel Schnyder

Piano: Julia Bartha, Alasdair Beatson, Finghin Collins, Robert Kulek, Simon Bucher, Peter Frankl, Aleksandar Madzar, Roman Zaslavsky, Bálint Zsoldos

Harp: Sarah Christ, Jana Bouškovà


In 2009 works by Don Li, performed by the composer with Ania Losinger, Matthias Eser, and the Tonus String Quartet were introduced to the public. The arrangement of Johan Halvorsen's Passacaglia - especially written for the GAIA Music Festival - received its world premiere.

In 2010, Jorge Bosso’s “Moshee” for cello and strings enjoyed its world premiere and works by Max Bruch, Johann Sebastian Bach, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Johan Halvorsen and Robert Schumann – including the first piano quartet by the latter – were given their debut performance in Switzerland.

Compositions or transcriptions of works by Kurt Atterberg, Alban Berg, Ernest Bloch and Cesar Viana were premiered in 2011.

In 2012, transcriptions of works by Johann Sebastian Bach received premieres.

2013, the fifth birthday of GAIA in Thun, saw a celebration of new works and transcriptions played for the first time by composers such as Luigi Boccherini, Arcangelo Corelli, Astor Piazzolla, Andrei Pushkarev, Franz Schubert, and by the group Yurodny.

In 2014, Bagatelle of Benjamin Britten for violin, viola and piano and works by Paul Juon received their Swiss premier.

Daniel Schnyder was Composer-in-Residence in 2015. Among the many works of his that were played during the Festival, his “Mensch Blue” had its debut performance and “Ad Parnassum” its first performance in Switzerland.

2016 saw the first inclusion of premieres of works of literature, as well as music. Lukas Hartmann wrote texts to Telemann’s «Burlesque de Quixotte»; Stravinsky’s Suite italienne as well as Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. The latter also received its Swiss premiere in a version for string quintet and piano.[3] Further works to receive international premieres were by Camille Saint-Saëns and Manuel de Falla, in arrangements written by Raymond Deane for Gwendolyn Masin's ORIGIN.

The festival program of 2017 also includes several world premieres. Massimo Pinca's „The Fates“ for String Quartet and Cimbalom, OLUM by Marco Antonio Perez-Ramirez, Bartók-Impressions (after the Romanian Folk Dances Sz. 68 by Béla Bartók) by Miklós Lukács, as well as Maximilian Grossenbacher's Airreel receive their world premieres. The Swiss premiere of Rebecca Clarke's Grotesque also takes place.[4]


Each year, internationally-renowned performers and teachers coach young instrumentalists. During GAIA Masters, the most promising instrumentalist or chamber-music ensemble participating in the open Masterclasses will be chosen to return in the following year – as guest artist during the annual Music Festival.

Artistic Director[edit]

Artistic director and founder of the GAIA Festival is virtuoso violinist Gwendolyn Masin.


- GAIA Music Festival 2009: Music of Brahms, Dvorák & Prokofiev

- GAIA Music Festival 2010: Music of Atterberg, Bruch, Schumann & Weiner

- GAIA Music Festival 2011: Music of Berg, Bloch, Debussy, Ligeti & Webern

- GAIA Music Festival 2012: Music of Krenek & Webern

- GAIA Music Festival 2013: Music of Hiller & Piazzolla

- GAIA Music Festival 2014: Music of Bridge & Britten

- GAIA Music Festival 2015: Music of De Falla, Medtner & Schnyder

- GAIA Music Festival 2016: Music of Beethoven, Mussorgsky, Popper & Stravinsky



External links[edit]