One of the most important musical events in Europe’s summer calendar has been unable to secure funding beyond 2016.
One of the most important and well-loved music events in Europe’s summer calendar, “Progetto Martha Argerich” (the Martha Argerich Project) is under threat of closure due to a lack of sponsorship.
The Argentine pianist’s annual festival in Lugano, Switzerland, now in its 15th year, brings together musicians from all over the world. The highlights of the festival are captured every year on a three-disc set by Warner Classics (the 2015 edition, featuring Argerich with pianists Stephen Kovacevich, Nicholas Angelich, Sergio Tiempo, cellist Gautier Capuçon, violinist Ilya Gringolts and clarinettist Paul Meyer has just been released). The event attracts loyal supporters, many, like Angelich, Tiempo and Gringolts, who return almost every year.
Despite the festival’s high standing, according top the organisers the main sponsor, private Swiss bank BSI, will no longer be funding the festival, Ticino News reported. In recent weeks Swiss authorities have begun criminal proceedings against the bank and the Monetary Authority of Singapore has served BSI with a notice of intention to withdraw its status as a merchant bank for serious breaches of anti-money laundering guidelines. However, the Lugano Festival’s Artistic Director Carlo Piccardi said that BSI’s decision to discontinue funding was the natural end of a cycle and is unrelated to the bank’s recent woes, explaining that the bank made their intentions clear last year. Unfortunately, the festival has been unable to secure any alternative source of funding, with Piccardi stating that a sponsor able to match BSI simply doesn’t exist on the scene in Switzerland.
The 2016 festival, which will run for three weeks from June 7, will come just after Argerich celebrates her 75th birthday and feature special guests, including Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang and Italian cellist Enrico Dindo.
Revered as a uniquely authentic music festival, free of commercial trappings, many will be sad to see the Martha Argerich Project disappear. However, if funding can’t be found for next year, it looks likely to be the end of an era.