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Zermatt Festival: Mélodie on the Matterhorn

She is one of the highlights at the Zermatt Festival (31.8.-16.9.2012). When Mélodie Zhao, the young Swiss pianist with Chinese roots, reaches the age of 18 on 7 September, the world will be open to her – she already has it at her feet. The Zermatt Festival will offer a warm welcome to her and 82 other musicians. Another highlight: The premiere of “Der Bergmensch” (The Mountain Man) by Daniel Schnyder.

Mélodie Zhao is highly acclaimed for her musical sensitivity and admired for her already early ability to perform the most difficult pieces. At only 13 years of age she played Chopin’s 24 Etudes: a world premiere in terms of the age of the performer and the quality of the performance. She gave her first solo recital at the tender age of 10, in the Palais de l'Athénée in Geneva: a programme lasting 70 minutes!

Mélodie Zhao is an exceptional talent that blossoms on French-Swiss terrain, to be precise in Saint-Prex on Lake Geneva, where she lives with her family. She has won many awards: the François Dumont Prize for the best interpretation of a Beethoven sonata, for her successful studies at the Geneva Conservatorium, where aged 13 and 16, she attained the Bachelors and Masters for her interpretations as a solo performer. From 2009 to 2011 she was the soloist of the Migros Culture Percentage. On 12 October in the 2011 Liszt Year, she gave a highly acclaimed, sell-out concert in Geneva’s Victoria Hall.

Mature technique and interpretation
Although still under age, Zhao, who at age three received piano lessons at China‘s Central Conservatory in Peking, has so far performed mostly at Swiss festivals such as the Sommets Musicaux Gstaad, Davos Festival and Zurich Festival. She has also performed with Swiss and Chinese orchestras, including the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chinese National Ballet Symphony Orchestra. Zhao plays highly virtuoso works in various styles from all epochs. At the early age of 17 she has already developed the ambition to play the most challenging pieces in highly technical as well as interpretational perfection. She was recently awarded a scholarship by the Leenaards Foundation and is regarded as a hugely talented musician with a promising future. At the concert in the Zermatt St. Mauritius parish church, Zhao will play early sophisticated compositions by the young Beethoven and sonatas by Franz Liszt.

Mountains and music: an engrossing experience

In 2011, Swiss composer, Daniel Schnyder, a long-time resident of New York, visited the Zermatt Festival and went hiking with the Scharoun Ensemble from Berlin. The idea for a piece matured, for a joint performance, a premiere in Zermatt: “All the musicians, even though living in Berlin, have become passionate mountain men”, said Schnyder, amazed by the hiking-crazy and enthusiastic “Berlin Philharmonicas”. These eight soloists from the world-famous orchestra got together in 1983 to form the Scharoun Ensemble and have made their mark on the Zermatt Festival from its very start. Although Schnyder chooses to live in New York, as a Swiss exile he also misses the mountains and has taken his thoughts and perceptions on the excursion with the Scharoun Ensemble as the opportunity to reflect on the reception of the Alps in classical music as well as Swiss musical tradition in a new context. The result is “Der Bergmensch” (The Mountain Man), performed in three movements called "Steinuhr", "Stubete" and "Ötzis Tod" – an exciting homage, a new, foreign world of sound – and yet so familiar?
Introduction to mountain culture
For three weeks from the end of August, classical music will resound from Zermatt’s village churches and traditional hotels; world-class musicians will practice in public: an exceptional cultural offer, as discerning as Zermatt’s guests and suitably fitting for a destination that has always enthralled artistes. As has long been a tradition in many international music establishments, in Zermatt, those interested can also receive a one-hour introduction to the most important concerts. Our guests are Laura Möckli, Christoph Riedo and Yaël Hêche, three musicologists who have studied the works to be performed in depth and in a sophisticated atmosphere will pass on their knowledge to interested persons. These free events will take place in the Zermatterhof, one hour before the four main concerts.

Concert with Mélodie Zhao at the piano
Saturday, 1 September 2012, 19.30 h, St. Mauritius Parish Church Ludwig van Beethoven Sonata No. 8 in C minor Pathétique op. 13; Sonata No. 21 in C major Waldstein op. 53; Franz Liszt Mephisto Walzes No. 1 S. 51, “The Dance in the Village Inn” as well as Sonata in H minor S. 178 by Franz Liszt.

Première of "Der Bergmensch" (The Mountain Man)
Saturday, 8 September 2012, 19.30 h, St. Mauritius Parish Church With the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, Zermatt Festival Orchestra, Daniel Schnyder Composer in Residence and saxophone, Stefan Schulz bass trombone. The premiere will be preceded by works by Georg Philipp Telemann and Franz Schubert.

Tickets in Zermatt 
  • Zermatt Tourism, Bahnhofplatz 5, Zermatt,
    Mon-Sun 8.30 – 18 h
  • Credit Suisse, Bahnhofstr. 57, Zermatt,
    Mon - Fri 9 – 12 & 14 – 17.30 h
  • Evening box office

Tickets by telephone

+41 (0)27 967 30 88, Mon-Fri 9 – 17 h

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