«Promoting Geneva as a major centre for music»
as a major centre
The lakeside city will be hosting the Menuhin Competition Geneva 2018 from 12th to 22nd April. This is largely thanks to the hard work of Etienne d'Arenberg, limited partner at Mirabaud, and his wife, Andrienne. This Belgian Prince, an active philanthropist who has lived in Geneva for many years, is also passionate about music and a member of the Menuhin Competition Trust in London. Interview.
How did the idea come about to bring the Menuhin Competition to Geneva?
Joji Hattori, Chairman of the British Trust which runs the Competition in partnership with each host city, is a long-standing friend and akin to a brother for my wife Andrienne and myself. In 2012, when my wife and I were in Beijing for the Menuhin Competition, she turned to me and said: "We have to bring this Competition with these young virtuosi to Geneva." She is from Geneva, I am from Belgium, but we have lived in Geneva since 1999 and were keen to help this city, which already does a lot for classical music, reap the benefits of this event.
So you submitted an application. What was the reaction?
Our idea was to set up an independent organisation to act as an intermediary between local partners and the British Trust, ensuring the whole thing would be funded without requiring any institutional contributions. A local patron gave us their approval. Armed with this support and approach, we were able to win over the members of the Menuhin Competition Trust in 2014.
Since then, we have set up our own Genevan charitable foundation which is managing the project and will bring it to fruition in April. It will discontinue its activities once the event is over and the project has come to an end.
The Menuhin Competition is a touring event. Is there not a risk that some people may see this moment simply as a brief aside?
Work on the 2020 and 2022 competitions is underway. However, if London can host the event several times, why not Geneva? If a general consensus were reached to invite the Menuhin Competition back to Geneva, in 2024 or even later, I would fight tooth and nail for the opportunity and would be delighted for the city.
How will this impact the city and the local economy?
There is both a direct as well as a long-term impact. In April, the competitors and their families will of course be visiting, and they will be staying with host families. However, the hotel industry will benefit from the arrival of the jury members, the London-based Trust staff and guests as well as a number of professional violinists and classical musicians from around the world. There will also be a media presence, including over 50 accredited journalists. Finally, fans from Switzerland, Europe and around the world will be coming to be part of this intensely moving and thrilling experience.
On top of that, since the very beginning, we have strived to work with local partners, so all the suppliers and contractors are local businesses and institutions.
In the longer term, Geneva's image as a major centre for music will also be promoted. We will be taking advantage of the Menuhin Competition to put the spotlight on all of the incredible people involved in the local music scene. We have organised web-streaming and a lot of TV broadcasts, which should spike people's interest, and indeed we also have some tour operators who have put together 'Geneva' package trips including a visit to local luthiers.