Sion Festival 2023: warm and welcoming memories

The curtain has just come down on the Sion Festival 2023. During these three weeks of concerts, our bodies and hearts have been warm. Memories of heatwaves, friendly evenings, and artistic and human experiences that warmed our souls are etched in our memories; now more than ever, we need them so much.

Thank you to all of you for lighting up the ‘sacred fire’ that burns within each and every one of us; thank you to the artists for blowing on those little flames of hope that illuminate and sublimate our daily lives; thank you to our Artistic Director Pavel Vernikov for creating this marvellous space of all possibilities; thank you to our entire team and all the volunteers for joining forces to allow the magic to happen every evening.

We look forward to seeing you soon, at the latest from 16 August to 1 September 2024 for a new edition of the Sion Festival, which will be celebrating its 60th anniversary. The programme will be created by Pavel Vernikov and Janine Jansen, who are embarking on a promising collaboration as Artistic Co-Directors.

Warm regards

The team of the Fondation Sion Violon Musique


The opinion of Pavel Vernikov, Artistic Director

“This is perhaps one of the best editions I have ever produced. It has achieved a perfect balance between the more ‘serious’ concerts, with their great musical intensity, and the more ‘light-hearted’ or ‘popular’ performances, which are always of a high artistic quality. The two approaches to Bach’s music by Mischa Maisky and the breakdance troupe Flying Steps provide an exemplary illustration of this mix. This edition also included programmes created specifically for the Sion Festival, born out of a dialogue with the artists, and sometimes leading to a dialogue between the arts. This aspect is very close to my heart.”

The opinion of Olivier Vocat, Chairman of the Foundation Board

“Pavel Vernikov’s programmes are not only varied and of a high standard, they also bring us a great deal of emotion. And our loyal audience knows just how to appreciate them, as they have once again turned out in force. The artists were welcomed by enthusiastic audiences. For me, this year’s edition was marked by the announcement  of the arrival of Janine Jansen as Artistic Co-Director, alongside Pavel Vernikov”.


Impressions of the first weekend

We received a strong message of hope during the opening concert under the banner of Hope, with three very young talents, as well as Pavel Vernikov, Svetlana Makarova, Roland Vouilloz and the Festival Orchestra. The artists taking part in the “Musique en fête” day soothed and invigorated our spirits with “Music from the cold”. Lena Belkina, Elena Zhukova and the Ineo Quartet moved us to tears with pieces of immense beauty and profound sadness. The Naghash Ensemble conducted by John Hodian, Ashot Khachatourian and the Festival Orchestra reminded us of the timelessness of the great existential questions and the strongest emotions.


Impressions of the second week

We curbed our urge to hop by watching the Bach-inspired breakdance numbers of the Flying Steps. The crazy virtuosos Les Bons Becs proved that ‘classical’ music can be entertaining, and that it goes very well with other genres. Mischa Maisky made the Cathedral’s thousand-year-old stones resonate with his cello and mythical – as well as mystical – pages of Bach. The breathtaking Sergei Nakariakov and Brass Brand 13 Étoiles brilliantly transported us into the world of brass instruments, sometimes powerful, sometimes delicate. Vincenzo Capezzuto and the Soqquadro Italiano took us on a dreamy journey with their sun-drenched music and colourful fantasy.


Impressions of the third week

Janine Jansen and her friends Timothy Ridout, Denis Kozhukhin and Daniel Blendulf took us into the hushed atmosphere of the salons and the intimacy of the boudoirs of the 19th century and made us feel the emotions of the romantic soul. With the complicity of Tomo Keller, Svetlana Makarova and Ting-Ru Lai, they then took us on a journey through the fantastic soundscapes, sometimes floating, sometimes exuberant, of chamber music produced before the Great War. The Norwegian Soloists’ Choir enveloped and lulled us with their luminous, comforting, consoling voices. Gäetan led the little spectators into a world in their image: funny, whimsical and tender.

The finals of the Tibor Varga International Violin Competition introduced us to some extraordinary and exceptionally young musical personalities, closing the circle. Alexander Chaushian, Ashley Wass and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra directed by Sergej Krylov accompanied them with masterly and sensitivity.


Audience numbers

The 14 concerts in this 58th edition, which ended on Sunday 3 September at the Ferme-Asile in Sion, attracted some 4000 spectators, with an average occupancy rate of 80%. A large number of events drew a full house: the multi-artistic creation L’Espérance conceived by Roland Vouilloz and Artistic Director Pavel Vernikov, the meeting of Bach and breakdance with the Flying Steps, the legendary Mischa Maisky, the dialogue between Sergei Nakariakov and the Brass Band 13 Étoiles, the chamber music programmes by Janine Jansen, the final of the International Tibor Varga Competition and the family concert with Gäetan. Despite the heatwave, more than 1000 persons attended the nine free concerts of the “Musique en fête” day in the old town of Sion.


>> All the photos of the Sion Festival 2023

>> Results and photos of the Tibor Varga Competition