Roche Commissions 2014 in Cooperation with the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY

Basel/Lucerne, 21 August 2014

Unsuk Chin’s Le Silence des Sirènes will be given its world premiere on 23 August by the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY Orchestra and Simon Rattle. Olga Neuwirth has received the eighth commission in the Roche Commissions series, to be premiered in 2016.

Le Silence des Sirènes by the South Korean composer Unsuk Chin, the seventh work in the Roche Commissions series, will receive its world premiere during LUCERNE FESTIVAL in Summer on 23 August 2014 in the KKL Luzern. It will be presented by the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY Orchestra, which is performing for the first time under the direction of Simon Rattle. The Canadian soprano and “artiste étoile” Barbara Hannigan will appear as the soloist. Le Silence des Sirènes is the first world premiere of the Roche Commissions series in cooperation with the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY, which Roche has engaged as its partner since summer 2013.

The next commission by Roche Commissions, whose world premiere in 2016 will likewise be undertaken by the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY Orchestra, has been given to the Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth. She ranks among the most important figures composing today. In 2002, when she was featured as composer-in-residence, her works were showcased at LUCERNE FESTIVAL.

“I am especially proud of the fact that this summer the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY Orchestra will for the first time be giving the world premiere of this year’s Roche Commissions work,” remarks Michael Haefliger, LUCERNE FESTIVAL’s Executive and Artistic Director. “And with Olga Neuwirth as the composer chosen for the next commission, we can also look forward to another high-quality work in 2016.”

As Christoph Franz, Chairman of the Board of Directors, points out: “Roche has always supported avant-garde artistic and cultural projects. Our partnership with LUCERNE FESTIVAL for Roche Commissions belongs to this tradition. I look forward to this year’s concert and to the future works that will be created in connection with Roche Commissions.”

Under the title Roche Commissions, an innovative model of cooperation in the area of cultural sponsorship has existed since 2003 between Roche and LUCERNE FESTIVAL. Every two years Roche gives a commission to an outstanding composer of our time. The composers are selected by Roche at the suggestion of the artistic leadership of LUCERNE FESTIVAL. Each commissioned work then receives its world premiere during LUCERNE FESTIVAL in Summer. To date, the Roche Commissions have been awarded to Harrison Birtwistle (2004), Chen Yi (2005), Hanspeter Kyburz (2006), George Benjamin (2008), Toshio Hosokawa (2010), Matthias Pintscher (2012), and Unsuk Chin (2014). Roche’s partnership with LUCERNE FESTIVAL was additionally expanded in 2013 through the creation of the Roche Young Commissions. In alternation with the already-established Roche Commissions series, in this new series a pair of young emerging composers receives orchestral commissions; starting in 2015, these will be performed every two years.

About Unsuk Chin

Unsuk Chin ranks among the most sought-after international composers of our time. A resident of Berlin, she studied composition in her native Seoul as well as with György Ligeti in Hamburg from 1985 to 1988. The artist made her breakthrough in 1985, when she was awarded first prize at the Gaudeamus Competition in Amsterdam. Unsuk Chin’s musical language is modern but not doctrinaire, lyrical, and full of communicative power. Her works have been performed by the most prestigious orchestras and artists, including, for example, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Ensemble Modern, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, and Kent Nagano. She has been composer-in-residence at such institutions as the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and the Philharmonie in Essen.

About Olga Neuwirth

Olga Neuwirth began composing as early as age 15 and studied at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna with Erich Urbanner, as well as at the Electroacoustic Institute there. She then spent a period studying in the United States at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and at the San Francisco Art College and in Paris at IRCAM. She received significant inspiration for her work from Adriana Hölzky, Tristan Murail, and Luigi Nono. Olga Neuwirth’s music demonstrates a wealth of sonic patterns that resemble intertwined labyrinths, in which many tiny events add up to agitated sonic complexes and tensely shimmering fabrics of voices; she finds new musical contexts for familiar sonic elements.


LUCERNE FESTIVAL is one of the most prestigious international festivals in the area of classical music. Every year three festivals take place: LUCERNE FESTIVAL at Easter, LUCERNE FESTIVAL in Summer, and LUCERNE FESTIVAL at the Piano. The KKL Luzern, which was designed by the architect Jean Nouvel and which is renowned for its phenomenal acoustics and for its exquisite architecture alike, is the central performance venue of LUCERNE FESTIVAL. More than 120,000 guests make the trip to Lucerne annually to experience the three Festivals. Since 1999 Michael Haefliger has served as Executive and Artistic Director. Each year such major orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam are among the guest performers. In addition to cultivating the traditional repertoire, the LUCERNE FESTIVAL places central importance on programming and championing contemporary music and on supporting the next generation (as with the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY and Young programs). For three weeks each summer, the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA brings together internationally renowned soloists, chamber musicians, and members of leading ensembles; following their concerts in Lucerne, the Orchestra embarks on international tours. LUCERNE FESTIVAL in Summer presents some 90 concerts from mid-August to mid-September. A richly diverse range of concert formats is offered: symphony concerts, chamber music, recitals, debuts, the Late Night series, and much more. Composers-in-residence, “artistes étoiles”, and innovative concert formats like LUCERNE FESTIVAL 40min and LUCERNE FESTIVAL Young Performance play an important role in the programming.

About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world’s largest biotech company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology, and neuroscience. Roche is also the world leader in in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a frontrunner in diabetes management. Roche’s personalized healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostics that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life, and survival of patients. Founded in 1896, Roche has been making important contributions to global health for more than a century. Twenty-four medicines developed by Roche are included in the World Health Organization Model Lists of Essential Medicines, among them life-saving antibiotics, antimalarials, and chemotherapy.

In 2013 the Roche Group employed over 85,000 people worldwide, invested 8.7 billion Swiss francs in R&D, and posted sales of 46.8 billion Swiss francs. Genentech, in the United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche is the majority shareholder in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information, please visit