‘It is fascinating to observe how far young artists can progress in a very short time.’
Truly passionate about teaching, Seiji Ozawa founded the International Music Academy – Switzerland, known since 2011 as the Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland, at Rolle, near Geneva, in 2004.
The Seiji Ozawa concept
For Seiji Ozawa, the practice of chamber music and of the quartet in particular is vital. As the maestro sees it, the quartet constitutes the quintessence of music. When they come to write one, composers, dispensing with everything accessory and superfluous, tend to give the very best of themselves.
Working on a string quartet means the musician has to immerse himself in the intentions and style of its creator. Such preparation constitutes a key stage in a young virtuoso’s ascension to the summits of artistry.
The selection of the musicians called upon to practise their art at the highest level is naturally extremely rigorous. Directed by Blanche d’Harcourt and composed of onetime students at the Academy, the Selection Committee scours Europe all year, selecting players from flagship academies and at international competitions for young talent to take part in auditions. The final group of students is hand-picked by Seiji Ozawa himself, in collaboration with the Artistic Management and the teachers.
The mission of the Academy is to transmit to the most talented instrumentalists of the younger generation what they can only gain from collective endeavour and from the demand for excellence acquired through working with the finest teachers. With this goal in mind, the Academy convenes a number of professors, all interpreters, whose international fame has been accompanied by a long experience of the pedagogy of music. They include Pamela Frank, Nobuko Imai, and Sadao Harada.
The quartets are formed by affinity between the players and after careful consideration between Seiji Ozawa, the teachers, the instrumentalists, and the artistic direction, taking account of the style, sonority, and temperament of each prospective member. The students work in turn with each professor in the presence of Seiji Ozawa, thereby assuring they gain unique command of their art.
Seiji Ozawa conducts the entire student ensemble at public rehearsals to which all the inhabitants of Rolle, together with guests of the Academy, are invited. A series of concerts, performed in prestigious venues such as the Victoria Hall in Geneva and the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris, marks the conclusion of the students’ attendance at the school. A concert is also held for residents of the Fondation Aigues-Vertes.
The extremely committed artistic team advises the young musicians throughout their attendance, while the Geneva office oversees the organization and management of the Academy.