Conductor Ludwig Wicki
A native of Lucerne, Switzerland, Ludwig Wicki was raised in a musical family where playing and singing was part of daily life. His first influences were folk and church choir music; early on Maestro also discovered a passion for film soundtracks. He spent hours transcribing Morricone and Böttcher tunes from an old LP for his school band and dreamed that one day he might play in Ennio Morricone’s orchestra. His road did not lead to Rome but rather to a successful career in classical music, uncommon in its scope and diversity.
Mo. Wicki began his formal musical education by studying trombone. In due course, he became a member of the Lucerne Symphony and Opera Orchestra. Simultaneously he founded the San Marco Brass and the Philharmonic Brass Quintet to indulge his keen interest and love for chamber music. This led to a long-term affair with early music and its various interpretations, including authentic performance of renaissance and baroque repertoire for trombone and particularly the golden age of Venetian Renaissance. All these experiences reawakened and strengthened Mo. Wicki’s love of choral music and led him to study choral conducting with Professor Martin Flämig, who at that time was the music director of the world-renowned Dresdner Kreuzchores in Germany. He fell under the spell of the Gregorian choral tradition and became a permanent member of the Schola Romanum Luzernsis, under the direction of Pater Roman Bannwart, a leading expert on choral music and one of the most important influences on Maestro’s development.
It was only a matter of time before Ludwig Wicki turned his attention to orchestral conducting. Having resigned from the Lucerne Symphony and Opera Orchestra after a nine-year term as a trombone player, he began to study with Dr. Ewald Körner at the Conservatory in Bern and continued with Prof. Donato Renzetti at the Academia Musicale in Pescara, Italy. When the position of the music director opened at the Palace Chapel of Lucerne, Mo. Wicki jumped at the rare chance to pursue all of his various musical interests at once. He led the Chapel choir in Gregorian chants as well as in the performances of Bach and Handel cantatas and a cappella Renaissance music by Monteverdi and Palestrina among others. He conducted the orchestra with programs that included works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Dvořák, Bruckner and many 20th-century composers. He inaugurated a Renaissance ensemble Il Dolcimelo and created a concert series Treffpunkt Haydn. As if that was not enough, Maestro Wicki taught Chamber Music and Conducting at the Music School of Lucerne and the Arts College of Bern. Maestro’s projects have been frequently featured in various radio and TV programs.
Having developed an expansive repertoire of early, classical, avantgarde and jazz music, Maestro finds a special pleasure in switching between styles and epochs, which may just be the key to his rich and sensitive style. At some point Ludwig Wicki rekindled his love for film music and contemplated the idea of founding a professional orchestra that would play nothing but movie soundtracks. Ten years ago the 21st Century Orchestra was created in Lucerne. It instantly became a musical phenomenon on the continent, where heavily-subsidized orchestras are facing declining attendance. Maestro Wicki’s brainchild has been playing sold-out concerts to mixed audiences of film fans and symphony music connoisseurs, staying afloat without a single sponsor or a public grant.
Ludwig Wicki collaborates with such internationally renowned composers as Howard Shore, Randy Newman and Martin Böttcher. The highlight of the previous season was the world premiere of The Fellowship of the Ring at KKL Luzern, the first ever live performance of the complete original score from the first part of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The orchestra and chorus performed the music in real time against the backdrop of a giant screen showing Peter Jackson’s epic film. The success of this unprecedented event resulted in invitations to give similar performances all over the world, including Munich (Munich Symphony Orchestra), Krakow (Sinfonietta Cracovia), Wolf Trap Festival (Wolf Trap Festival Orchestra), St. Louis (St. Louis Symphony) und Winnipeg (Winnipeg Symphony). The current season will see the world premier of the score from the second part of the trilogy The Two Towers. Next season engagements include The Fellowship of the Ring performances at the Radio City Music Hall in New York (21st Century Orchestra) and the Royal Albert Hall in London (London Philharmonic Orchestra).
Meanwhile, Maestro continues to conduct performances of classical and contemporary repertoire. He also accompanies the screenings of silent cinema classics (e.g. Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, etc.)
Two years ago the city of Lucerne expressed its gratitude to Maestro Wicki for his enormous contribution to it cultural life by presenting him with a Special Achievement Award.