Seiji Ozawa has had a dazzling career to date. Born to Japanese parents in China on 1 September 1935, he began learning about Western music at Japan’s Toho Gakuen School of Music. His first teacher, Hideo Saito, taught him the basic techniques he needed to head to Europe and the United States and thus to the very roots of the traditions and the repertoire of the music he had been studying. His career took off in 1959 when he was awarded first prize in the Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors. Charles Münch then invited him to direct the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Music Festival. Next, Seiji Ozawa studied in Berlin under Herbert von Karajan before further honing his skills with Leonard Bernstein, whom he considered a “genius”. Bernstein invited Ozawa to join him and the New York Philharmonic on a tour of Japan.
During his American years, Seiji Ozawa was musical director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1965 to 1969, before being appointed director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra from 1970 to 1976. During the latter tenure, he also made his mark as director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with which he stayed until 2001.
Returning to Europe, where he was musical director of the Vienna Opera between 2002 and 2010, Seiji Ozawa was careful not to neglect his bonds with Japan. In 1984, in honour of his teacher Hideo Saito, he founded the Saito Kinen Orchestra. Each summer, in the town of Matsumoto, this ensemble brings together Japanese musicians from the most prestigious Western orchestras to play in the Saito Kinen Festival. In addition, twice a year, Maestro Ozawa directs the Mito Chamber Orchestra, which was created in 1990 and comprises some 30 top-notch musicians. Ozawa has always been concerned about young artists’ musical development. He is behind several academies the Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy Okushiga, the Ongaku-Juku Academy in Japan and the International Music Academy – Switzerland in Geneva, known since 2011 as the Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland. Always true to his public, Seiji Ozawa shares his immense talent during legendary performances that make him one of the greatest conductors of the century.
SEIJI OZAWA'S IDEA - For Ozawa, practical experience of chamber music, and of a quartet in particular, is indispensable for a musician. For him, the quartet is the very essence of music. In their quartets, composers give the very best of themselves; there is no embellishment for embellishment's sake; nothing is superfluous. In a string quartet, a musician can delve straight to the heart of the style and intentions of its creator. It is a stage through which every young virtuoso must pass before he or she can become an artist of the highest calibre.
THE SELECTION PROCESS - For the young musicians striving to reach the pinnacle of their art, there is a rigorous selection process. Throughout the year, the selection committee, led by Blanche d'Harcourt and composed of former Academy students, seeks out talented young musicians from the main conservatories and international competitions in Europe to take part in the auditions. The final selection is then made by Seiji Ozawa, the artistic directors and the tutors.
THE TUTORS - The Academy's mission is to impart to the most talented instrumentalists of the younger generation something that can only be achieved through a combination of practical interaction with peers and the exacting standards of the very best tutors. The Academy's tutors are therefore all internationally renowned artists with substantial experience in teaching their craft, such as Pamela Frank, Nobuko Imai or Sadao Harada.
THE ACADEMY - The quartets are formed on the basis of affinities that surface during the interaction between Seiji Ozawa, the tutors, the artistic directors and the instrumentalists. They take into account the style, tonality and temperament of each musician. In the presence of Seiji Ozawa , the students take it in turns to work with the tutors to ensure the successful transfer of their unique expertise. Seiji Ozawa directs the students during public rehearsals open to the residents of Rolle and guests of the Academy.
THE CONCERTS - The Academy closes with a series of concerts given in prestigious concert halls such as the Victoria Hall in Geneva or the Champs-Élysées Theatre in Paris. A concert is also given to residents of the Aigues-Vertes Foundation.
DURING THE YEAR - The committed artistic team advises the young musicians, while the office in Geneva oversees the organization and management of the Academy.
As the daughter of two professional pianists, Pamela Frank was immersed in music from a very young age, beginning her violin studies at the age of five. After 11 years as a pupil of Shirley Givens, she continued her musical education with Szymon Goldberg and Jaime Laredo. She graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1989. Pamela Frank has established an outstanding international reputation for herself with an unusually varied repertoire, and has made innumerable appearances as a soloist with all of the world's great orchestras. She made her debut at a Carnegie Hall recital in 1995, and then performed a much acclaimed Beethoven sonata cycle with her father at London's Wigmore Hall in 1997. She shares her passion for chamber music in performances with distinguished musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma, Tabea Zimmermann and Peter Serkin. She has made guest appearances at many major festivals, including Marlboro, Salzburg and Edinburgh. She has also taken part in many of the Isaac Stern chamber music seminars at the Carnegie Hall. In 1999, she was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize, one of the highest distinctions given to American instrumentalist.
As the founder of and mentor to the Tokyo String Quartet, which he also directed for 30 years, Sadao Harada has gained an international reputation and received numerous prizes for his outstanding technical mastery and the vibrancy of his performances. He began his musical studies with his father at the age of 11, before continuing them with Maestro Hideo Saito, and becoming the youngest cellist in the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. From there, he enrolled at the Juilliard School in the United States and went on to found the Tokyo String Quartet in 1969. Since 1999, he has pursued a busy career on the international stage as an acclaimed soloist, a teacher who is constantly in demand, and a renowned chamber musician. He currently teaches at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik at Trossingen in Germany.
With her exceptional talent, musical integrity, and charisma, Nobuko Imai is considered to be one of the most outstanding violists of our time. After finishing her studies at the Toho School of Music, Yale University and the Juilliard School, she won the highest prizes at both the prestigious international competition in Munich and Geneva. Formerly a member of the esteemed Vermeer Quartet, Ms. Imai combines a distinguished international solo career with various teaching commitments. She has appeared with numerous wolrd's prestigious orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw, the London Symphony, and the Chicago Symphony. As a keen chmaber musician, Ms Imai has performed with various prominent artists such as Gidon Kremer, Midori, Isaac Stern, Mischa Maisky, and Martha Argerich. In 2003, she formed the Michelangelo Quartet. The quartet gained the international reputation quickly and now became one of finest quartets in the world. Ms. Imai has dedicated a large part of her artistic activities to explore the diverse potential of the viola. She returns to Japan several times a year, to perform as soloist and notably for the annual "Viola Space" project. In 1995/1996 Nobuko Imai was artistic director of three Hindemith Festivals at the Wigmore Hall in London, at Columbia University in New York and at the Casals Hall in Tokyo. In 2009 she founded The Tokyo International Viola Competition, the first international competition in Japan exclusively for viola. An impressive discography of over 40 CDs shows her recordings for BIS, Chandos, Hyperion, Philips, and Sony among others. Ms. Imai taught as a Professor at the Detmold Academy of Music from 1983 to 2003, and currently teaches at the conservatories of Amsterdam and Geneva, Kronberg International Academy, and Ueno Gakuen University in Tokyo.
Robert Mann has been a driving force in the world of chamber music for more than sixty years. As founder and first violinist of the celebrated Juilliard String Quartet for fifty-two years, as well as a soloist, composer, teacher and conductor, Mr. Mann has brought a refreshing sense of adventure and discovery to chamber performance in this country. He is, in the words of Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe, "one of the country's most admired and deeply loved musicians.
Born in Portland, Oregon in 1920, Mr. Mann began studying violin when he was eight, and at age 13 was accepted into the class of Edouard Hurlimann, concertmaster of the Portland Symphony. In 1938, he moved to New York City to enrol in The Juilliard School, where he studied violin with Edouard Dethier, composition with Bernard Wagenaar and Stephan Wolpe, and conducting with Edgar Schenkman. Mr. Mann won the prestigious Naumburg competition in 1941. At the invitation of Juilliard's president, William Schuman, Robert Mann formed the Juilliard String Quartet in 1946, and served as the ensemble's first violinist until his retirement from the quartet in 1997. The quartet, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee during the 1996-97 season, had played approximately 5,500 concerts and performed more than 500 works including some 75 premieres. Its discography includes recordings of more than 100 compositions.
Mr. Mann has composed more than 30 works for narrator with various instruments that he performs with his wife, the actress Lucy Rowan; several have been recorded on the Peter Bartok and Musical Heritage labels. He has also composed an Orchestral Fantasy performed by Dimitri Mitropoulos with the New York Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, and at the Salzburg Festival; a Duo for Violin and Piano that was premiered at Carnegie Hall by Itzhak Perlman; and a String Quartet that was included in the repertoires of both the La Salle and the Concord String Quartets. Other works include a Duo for Cello and Piano written for Joel Krosnick and Gilbert Kalish, a Concerto for Orchestra, and "Lament" for two solo violas and orchestra.
Each summer, at the invitation of Seiji Ozawa, Mr. Mann attends Japan's Saito Kinen Music Festival as conductor, teacher and performer and to Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland in Rolle (Switzerland) as teacher and conductor. He is on the faculties at Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard, and has served as president of the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation since 1971. On February 12, 2011, as founder of the Juilliard String Quartet, Mr. Mann along with the JSQ, was honoured by the Grammy Awards with The Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award. He was recently honoured by New York's Manhattan School of Music and the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music with endowed chairs given in his name by his brother, Alfred Mann. At the age of 90 years, Robert Mann is gratefully still actively performing, composing, teaching and conducting.
Like Seiji Ozawa formerly, Kazuki Yamada was in September 2009 winner of the International Besançon Competition, receiving the audience award as well as the Grand Prize. In the 2010/2011 season, he makes his debut in London with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London, in Paris with Orchestre de Paris and in Berlin with Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin. At college he formed Yokohama Sinfonietta, where he remains Music Director. He has been announced as Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, starting in the 2012/2013 season.
Pianist and artistic director of “Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland’ from which she is a founding member, Blanche d’Harcourt studied at Paris’s “École Normale de Musique” and at the “Salzburg Mozarteum”, and with Jean Fassina in Paris. She has performed as a duet with the Italian singer Maria-Fausta Gallamini and together they have been on a number of tours. She has also put together a program of German Romantic melodramas with actress Marthe Keller, which they have taken on tour around Europe, United States and Japan. At the same time, she gave solo recitals and performed with Hugh Mackenzie, Philippe Hirshhorn, Mitsuko Shirai, Cécile de France… Blanche d’Harcourt has been artistic director of ‘Belgium’s International Musical Encounters’ from 1993 to 2010.
Julien has won many international competitions such as Geneva and Long Thibaud competitions. He now shares his life of musician between concerts with orchestras, chamber music, his position of solo violin the Orchestre national des Pays de Loire and teaching. Julien attended the Academy of Seiji Ozawa from 2007 to 2011.
Agata won the Wieniawski Competition in Poznan in 2006. She made her debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in 2010 and recorded a CD for Deutsche Grammophon with Krystian Zimerman. Agata plays with a Stradivarius (1680) and attends the Academy since the very beginning in 2005.
Pauline Sachse is currently guest professor at the Academy of Music " Hanns Eisler " in Berlin and the pricipal viola of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. She won various competitions, such as the Lenzewski and Joseph Joachim Competition. She studied at the Academy of Music " Hanns Eisler " in Berlin, at Yale University (USA) and chamber music with the Alban Berg Quartet. She has played in ensembles such as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra... and worked with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Mariss Jansons, Simon Rattle and Seiji Ozawa. Pauline attended the Academy in 2005 and 2007.