History

In 2004, Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa created in Switzerland an academy focused on the string quartet and string ensemble. He worked with Robert Mann, founding member of the Juilliard String Quartet, to lay the foundations of the program. Three tutors have been involved in the Academy since the beginning: Sadao Harada, Nobuko Imai and Pamela Frank. Seiji Ozawa entrusted its direction to the pianist Blanche d’Harcourt.

The Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland has welcomed thirty young soloists every year since its inception. The first years were spent in residence at the Hindemith Foundation in Blonay, in 2007 it settled at Rolle castle, which his placed at his disposal by the municipality of Rolle.

Seiji Ozawa and Robert Mann

Principles

For Seiji Ozawa, the string quartet repertoire is the basis of classical music. It is thus an essential learning for any young musician to become an artist of the highest calibre. The tutors objective is to get the musicians to listen more attentively so that they may find a common sound and the “same breath” as Seiji Ozawa calls it. For twelve days in Rolle, the quartets focus on two movements. This in‑depth study is a unique opportunity to excel. In the evening, they meet to play all together. In the beginning they were led by Seiji Ozawa himself, then in 2010 Kazuki Yamada took over the role of conductor.

The Tutors

Seiji Ozawa has chosen top-level tutors. Recognized for their exceptional technical mastery and their teaching skills, virtuosos Sadao Harada, Nobuko Imai and Pamela Frank have been on board since the very first edition of the Academy. Kazuki Yamada, a young conductor whose career is taking off, joined the Academy in 2010. Violinists Suyoen Kim and Julien Szulman, two of the Academy’s most talented former students, have been assisting the tutors by teaching in their turn since 2021. The conductor, the tutors and the students form a family that works together, intensively, towards the same goal. Their working conditions are optimal, so that young people have the opportunity to excel and give the best of themselves.
SADAO HARADA
Sadao Harada, who studied under Hideo Saito and Robert Mann, helped to found the Tokyo String Quartet in 1969 and led it for 30 years. He is known for his exceptional technical mastery of the cello and for the dynamism of his interpretations as he performs all over the world. He has taught at Yale University (USA) and at the Trossing University of Music (Germany) and is a professor at Ueno Gakuen University (Japan).

NOBUKO IMAI
Nobuko Imai, like Seiji Ozawa and Sadao Harada, studied at the Toho Gakuen School of Music. This world-renowned violist is member of the Vermeer Quartet and founder of the Michelangelo Quartet and performs with leading artists and prestigious orchestras. She teaches at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, the Kronberg International Academy and the Reina Sofía School of Music in Madrid.

PAMELA FRANK
American violinist Pamela Frank was very young when her parents first introduced her to music. She now plays with the most famous musicians and orchestras. In 1999, she won the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, the ultimate award for an American instrumentalist. She is a professor at the Curtis Institute of Music and teaches at the Tanglewood, Ravinia and Verbier festivals. She is also artistic director of the “Evnin Rising Stars” at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts.

KAZUKI YAMADA
Kazuki Yamada was born in 1979 in Japan and won the Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors in 2009. He is Artistic and Musical Director of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra and guest principal conductor of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In Japan, he is guest principal conductor of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, principal conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, and musical director of the Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus and the Yokohama Sinfonietta. He has been guest conductor of the Academy since 2010.

SENIOR MUSICIANS INVOLVED
Seiji Ozawa, the directors and the tutors choose the “Seniors” among former students. These experienced musicians are involved in the running of the Academy, a great promise for the future!

SUYOEN KIM
Suyoen Kim won first prize at the Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition in Hanover in 2006 and performs as soloist in Europe and Asia under renowned conductors such as Mariss Jansons, Christoph Eschenbach and Myung Whun Chung. She joined the Artemis Quartet from 2019 to 2021. Since 2021, she has been concertmaster of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin. She plays on a Stradivarius “Lord Newlands, 1702” on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation. Former student of the Academy, she has been since 2021, musical adviser and teacher.

JULIEN SZULMAN
Winner of the Geneva and Long-Thibaud competitions, Julien Szulman leads a rich and varied musical life. Guest concertmaster of major international orchestras (London Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestre de Paris, etc.), he is a much-appreciated chamber musician and a sought-after teacher. Former student of the Academy since 2007. He is invited by Seiji Ozawa to teach at the Okushiga Academy in Japan since 2013. He has been a musical adviser and teacher at the Academy since 2021.

Social and educational mission

Keen to raise awareness among young musicians to the need to give of themselves, deeply affected by the precarious situation in Geneva, and equally keen to support people who are hindered in  heir lives or affected by illness, the Foundation Board has decided to expand in 2023 what it now calls its “social and educational mission”.

As a result:

Since 2007, the musicians of the Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland have performed on a voluntary basis every year (outside the Covid period) at the Aigues-Vertes Foundation, offering a concert to its residents and their guests from other institutions.

Since 2019, around one hundred people supported by the Otium Foundation (cancer) have been invited to attend the concert at the Victoria Hall.

Since 2022, a partnership has been established with the “Hospice Général”, giving young migrants the opportunity to attend the master classes given in Rolle. People supported by the “Hospice Général”, are also invited to attend the concert at Victoria Hall.

Since 2022, invitations have been extended to people supported by the Healing Joy Association (support for the sick).

Since 2022, the Foundation Board has decided to donate all ticket sales to the “Fondation Partage”.

From 2023, visually impaired or blind people supported by the “Association pour le Bien des Aveugles” will be invited to concerts at the Victoria Hall.

We are currently in discussions with Studio Kodaly about inviting young musicians to attend master classes and concerts in Geneva and Rolle.

Contact has been made with the HEM in Geneva to organize a master class given by Sadao Harada (cello) in 2023 and to offer their students the opportunity to attend master classes and concerts in Geneva and Rolle.

Management and Board of Trustees

MANAGEMENT

  • Blanche d’Harcourt, Director, Artistic Director
  • Nathalie Savioz, General secretary
  • Anne Biéler, Public relations
  • Philip Rollman, s agency, Communication
  • Eileen Hofer, Press relations
  • Julien Szulman, Musical adviser, in charge of selection
  • Suyoen Kim, Musical adviser

FOUNDATION BOARD

  • Seiji Ozawa, President
  • Alexandre Manghi, Vice-Chairman, Treasurer
  • François Guye, Active member
  • Blanche d’Harcourt, Active member, Director
  • Bruno Mégevand, Active member
  • Seira Ozawa, Active member

HONORARY MEMBERS

  • François Landolt, Honorary Chairman
  • Thierry Waelli, honorary member

FOUNDING MEMBER

  • Régine Kopp

Press review

Radio broadcast

ESPACE 2  12.07.2023

Gianadda Concert

by Catherine Buser

Online presse

RTS  11.07.2023

RTS Culture

by Melissa Hartel

TV

RTS  08.07.2023

TV news 7:30PM – Academy in Rolle

by Mathieu Lombard

Newspaper

LA CÔTE  07.07.2023

6 July concert of the Ozawa Academy

by Jocelyne Laurent

TV

LÉMAN BLEU   07.07.2023

TV news 7PM – Aigues Vertes

by Arnaud Urfer

Online presse

FÉMINA  06.07.2023

Diana Adamyan

by Nicolas Poinsot