The Sion Festival celebrates its 60th anniversary!

60 years ago, the Hungarian violinist Tibor Varga founded the Tibor Varga Festival in Sion. Some of you may remember the early days of the festival in Sion; some of you may have attended the first editions, either as a spectator or as a volunteer – one of today’s volunteers recently told us that as a schoolboy he was distributing programmes in the 1970s and was already a regular spectator. So many memories for many of you!

The 2024 edition will run from 16 August to 4 September and will feature the violin – what could be more natural? It’s also the first programme co-created by our two artistic directors, Pavel Vernikov and Janine Jansen. The Dutch violinist herself will be in good company, offering the Swiss premiere of a work by Richard Dubugnon, while Giuliano Carmignola and I Solisti Aquilani will delight lovers of Baroque music, including yourself. The festival will also be giving pride of place to the young talent it has been nurturing for 60 years. But there will be no shortage of opportunities to explore other worlds of sound and creativity: female voices with the Slovenian Chamber Music Theater, a fusion of Romanian music and jazz with Marius Preda, brass and humour with the Mnozil Brass, black light theatre with Prague’s IMAGE Theatre, or accordion with Richard Galliano, whose composition will be given its world premiere. There’s also a birthday present in store for the Sion Festival: the premiere of a surprise work by Valais-born Yannick Barman.

A rich and festive programme awaits you, punctuated by unexpected and emotional moments. We look forward to seeing many of you there to celebrate this historic milestone together!

The Sion Violin Music Foundation team


 In the words of Olivier Vocat, President of the Foundation Committee

« ‘The collaboration between Janine Jansen and Pavel Vernikov, our two wonderful artistic directors, has once again produced a dazzling programme! It’s hard to think of a better way to celebrate the important anniversary of our festival, which was born as long ago as 1964»..

In the words of Pavel Vernikov, Co-Artistic Director

« In the 1970s, my teacher Semjon Snitkovski often told me about a magical town in Switzerland, Sion, and a very special festival, the Tibor Varga Festival. When I arrived in Sion many years later and took over the artistic direction of the Sion Festival, I saw it as a sign of destiny and a blessing. I’m delighted to have been able to programme this special edition with Janine Jansen, a great musician, personality and friend.».


Celebrating the violin, in good company

Naturally, the violin will play the lion’s share of the concerts in this jubilee edition, including those by Janine Jansen, who will be playing in the company of talents from the ‘new generation’ and seasoned musicians such as Boris Brovtsyn (violin), Timothy Ridout (viola), Pablo Ferrández (cello), Denis Kozhukhin (piano) and Martin Fröst (clarinet). The new co-artistic director has concocted some magnificent chamber music programmes, two of which will be devoted entirely to 20th and 21st century repertoire, including a performance of Messiaen’s moving Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps and the Swiss premiere of Richard Dubugnon’s Poème élégiaque for solo violin, string quartet and piano – written for Janine Jansen, who premiered it in December 2023 in Utrecht.

A gift from Barman, another from Galliano

A concert dedicated to the festival’s 60th anniversary will bring together First Prize winners from the Tibor Varga and Tibor Junior competitions from several generations: Seohyun Kim, Lora Markova, Anna Agafia Egholm and Gyula Stuller, accompanied by the Sion Festival Orchestra. It will also see the premiere of a ‘surprise’ work composed by Yannick Barman, a trumpeter and musician from the Valais who is at the crossroads of musical genres, with the participation of Pavel Vernikov and Svetlana Makarova. Svetlana Makarova will also be soloist in the Concerto for violin, harp, accordion and strings Il Passaggio, a version of which will have its world premiere at the opening concert, with its composer Richard Galliano on accordion and Letizia Belmondo on harp.

"Musique en fête" and baroque music

The ‘Musique en fête’ day will also celebrate the festival’s 60th anniversary, with a nod to its founder Tibor Varga. Some ten free concerts will surprise you in the old town of Sion. The violin and its cousins will once again take centre stage with I Solisti Aquilani conducted by Giuliano Carmignola, offering sublime moments of Baroque music with the universal geniuses of Bach and Vivaldi. At the final of the Tibor Junior International Violin Competition, part of the festival, the three finalists will be joined by the South Czech Philharmonic conducted by Jan Talich, and mezzo-soprano Marie-Claude Chappuis.

Diversity, fantasy and fusion

Pavel Vernikov‘s imagination, taste for artistic diversity and sense of humour are particularly evident in four of the festival’s concerts, which will take you to musical horizons that are perhaps a little unusual, but so stimulating, in Eastern Europe. The Slovenian Chamber Music Theater will introduce you to a chamber opera for six women’s voices a cappella by Serbian composer Ana Sokolović, Svadba (The Wedding). Romanian multi-instrumentalist Marius Preda, a virtuoso on the cymbalum, will be presenting his Preda’s Project, a unique fusion of jazz and traditional music.

Black theater and burlesque atmosphere

With Prague’s famous IMAGE Theatre, you’ll be plunged into the magical world of optical illusions and black light theatre, a cross between pantomime and modern dance. In addition to the evening show, there will be a family-friendly matinee performance. For its closing concert, the Sion Festival will cross the Rhône to Grône, where the Mnozil Brass will cross stylistic boundaries in a burlesque atmosphere, mixing music and sketches. This Austrian brass septet is also celebrating its 30th birthday.