Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland at Fondation Louis Vuitton

From 30 June to 3 July 2015 - Auditorium

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Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland at Fondation Louis Vuitton



From the 30th of June to the 3rd of July, 2015, the Fondation Louis Vuitton is delighted to play host to the Seiji Ozawa International Academy of Switzerland.

Directed by world-famous Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa, the prestigious Academy takes up residence in the Auditorium, bringing with it the 27 prizewinners from the class of 2015. 

With a quartet master class and a full orchestra rehearsal, both open to the public, in addition to two concerts, the Seiji Ozawa International Academy of Switzerland invites audiences to discover some of the most promising musical talent of our time.


 Concerts by the Academy, conducted by Seiji Ozawa


To mark its residence at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, on the 1st and 3rd of July, 2015, the Seiji Ozawa International Academy of Switzerland will perform two exceptional concerts both highlighting the quartets formed by the Academy and showcasing its orchestral work, directed by Seiji Ozawa. 

The Seiji Ozawa International Academy of Switzerland

'It is fascinating to observe how far young artists can progress in a very short time.

Seiji Ozawa

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.

Teaching staff

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 Academy

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.

Year-long activities

The extremely committed artistic team advises the young musicians throughout their attendance, while the Geneva office oversees the organization and management of the Academy.

the artists

Seiji Ozawa

Teaching is like a drug! Once you start, you just can’t stop. Working with young musicians at a very high level fills me with joy.’
Seiji Ozawa’s career has been nothing short of meteoric. Born of Japanese parents in China on the 1st of September, 1935, he learned Western music at the Toho School of Music in Tokyo. His first master, Hideo Saito, equipped him with the fundamentals of technique that enabled him to go to Europe and the United States, where the tradition and repertory of Western music he studied has its roots.

In 1959, he obtained First Prize at the orchestra conducting competition in Besançon. This proved to be the launching- pad. Soon, Charles Munch was inviting him to direct the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Tanglewood and then he was receiving instruction from Herbert von Karajan in Berlin, before pursuing his training further with Leonard Bernstein. The latter, whom his pupil describes as a ‘genius’, gave him the opportunity to share the baton during the New York Philharmonic’s tour of Japan.

During his ‘American’ years, Seiji Ozawa acted as musical director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1965 to 1969, before being named head of the San Francisco Symphony from 1970 to 1976. He held these posts while working until 2001 as resident conductor of the Boston Symphony, an orchestra on which he has left an enduring mark. 

Returning to Europe, where he was appointed principal conductor of the Vienna State Opera from 2002 to 2010, Seiji Ozawa nevertheless continued to cultivate his contacts with Japan. Thus, in 1984, in homage to his professor, Hideo Saito, he founded the Saito Kinen Orchestra, which every summer attracts national instrumentalists from the most prestigious Western orchestras to appear in the Saito Kinen Festival in the town of Matsumoto.

In parallel, twice a year the maestro directs the Mito Chamber Orchestra created in 1990, which is comprised of around thirty consummate instrumentalists.

Keenly concerned with music education for young artists, Seiji Ozawa has played a key role in setting up several academies, such as the Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy Okushiga and the Ongaku-Juku Academy in Japan, as well as the International Music Academy – Switzerland (IMAS) in Geneva, renamed in 2011 the Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland.

Hugely committed to his audiences, Seiji Ozawa has placed his immense talent in the service of legendary performances that have earned him a reputation as one of the foremost conductors of the century.

Pamela Frank

Thanks to her parents, both professional pianists, Pamela Frank bathed in music from her earliest childhood. Commencing her violin studies at the age of five, she became a pupil of Shirley Givens, before pursuing her musical education with Szymon Goldberg and Jaime Laredo. In 1989, she graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Developing a wide-ranging playing career, she has carved out a remarkable international reputation. She has been invited as a soloist countless times by some of the finest orchestras in the world. Debuting with a recital at Carnegie Hall in 1995, her cycle of Beethoven sonatas accompanied by her father, Claude Frank, in Wigmore Hall, London, in 1997, proved a triumph. She has shared her special passion for chamber music with musicians of the calibre of Yo-Yo Ma, Tabea Zimmermann, and Peter Serkin. Appearing as a guest at major festivals, such as Marlboro, Salzburg, and Edinburgh, she has also taken part in several of Isaac Stern’s chamber music seminars in Carnegie Hall. In 1999, she was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize, the highest distinction granted to American interpreters.

Sadao Harada

As founder member and mentor of the Tokyo String Quartet, whose driving force he remained for some 30 years, Sadao Harada has acquired a worldwide reputation and carried off many awards, as much for his peerless technical mastery as for his dynamic interpretative skill. Beginning his musical studies with his father, at eleven he continued his development with the master, Hideo Saito, soon rising to become the youngest cellist in the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. Joining the Juilliard School in the United States, he founded the Tokyo String Quartet in 1969. Since 1999, he has pursued a busy international career as a star soloist, a much-sought after teacher, and a widely hailed player of chamber music. He teaches in the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Trossingen, Germany.

Nobuko Imai

Thanks to her talent, musical integrity, and exceptional charisma, Nobuko Imai is regarded as one of the most remarkable viola players of our day. Completing her studies at the Toho School of Music, Yale University, and the Julliard School, she was awarded the top prize at the international competitions of Geneva and Munich. Once a member of the famous Quartet Vermeer, Mrs Imai now combines an international solo career with several teaching posts. She has also featured with prestigious orchestras, such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw, the LSO, and the Chicago Symphony. A renowned chamber musician, Nobuko Imai has played with various premier artists, such as Gidon Kremer, Midori, Isaac Stern, Mischa Maisky, and Martha Argerich. In 2003, she created the Michelangelo Quartet, which quickly acquired an international reputation and is now one of the most famous quartets in the world. Mrs Imai devotes much of her artistic activity to exploring the vast potential of the viola.

Nobuko Imai returns to Japan several times a year to appear as a soloist, in particular within the ambit of the ‘Viola Space’ project. In 1995/1996, she acted as artistic director of three Hindemith festivals, in Wigmore Hall (London), at the University of Columbia (New York), and in the Casals Hall (Tokyo).

In 2009, she set up the first international competition in Japan exclusively devoted to the viola, the ‘Tokyo International Viola Competition’. Her impressive discography runs to more than forty discs issued by respected classical labels, including BIS, Chandos, Hyperion, Philips, Sony.... From 1983 to 2003, she taught at the Detmold Academy of Music and is today professor at the Academies of Geneva and Amsterdam, as well as at the Kronberg International Academy and at Ueno Gakuen University (Tokyo).    

the Students

Students selected for the 2015 Academy


Misako Akama

Hye Jin Kim

Suyoen Kim

Elin Kolev

Jae Hyeong Lee

Christel Lee

Thomas Lefort

Shuichi Okada

David Petrlik

Alexandra Soumm

Julien Szulman

Agata Szymczewska

Elvira Van Groningen

Malgorzata Wasiucionek


Clément Batrel-Genin

Violaine Despeyroux

Karolina Errera

Sara Ferrandez

Manuel Vioque-Judde



Michael Bialobroda

Gauthier Broutin

Julia Hagen

Bumjun Kim

Florian Pons

Sharon Tsai


Théotime Voisin

The essential

From 30 June to 3 July 2015



Public Quartet Master Class

Thursday 2nd July 2015 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Concerts by the Academy conducted by Seiji Ozawa

Wednesday 1st July 2015 at 8.30 p.m.

Friday 3rd July 2015 at 8.30 p.m.


1st half – String quartets with 6 different quartets for each concert movements from string quartets by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Barber and Ravel

2nd half - Orchestra with all the musicians, under the baton of Seiji Ozawa

Ludwig van Beethoven –

3rd movement of Quartet no. 16 in F Major op. 135

Edvard Grieg – Holberg Suite op. 40 (movements 1, 4, and 5).    

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