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The Sepp Blatter Foundation awards a substantial prize

The Sepp Blatter Foundation recently awarded a sum of CHF 25,000 to the Musikfdorf Ernen in acknowledgement of its efforts, achievements, and the enormously positive resonance of its annual festival has spurred. “As if pennies from Heaven!” confessed Francesco Walter, Artistic Director of the Musikdorf Ernen Festival, describing his initial reaction to news of the generous prize.

As the former Number 1 player in the FIFA hierarchy, Sepp Blatter is clearly more closely associated with football than the arts. Yet Niklaus Furger, President of the Foundation and mayor of the nearly city of Visp, clarified that the Foundation’s annual award targets a deserving institution in the sport, social, cultural, or humanitarian area. Asked if he saw any parallels between the playing field and the music that Ernen festival has tireless promoted for 44 years, Furger quickly cited two obvious overlaps. Like for sport, he allowed, music brings people together, stirs up great enthusiasm among its players and audience alike. What’s more, both induce a whole gamut of emotions.

Mr. Blatter, speaking as a lover of music himself, (“…but not Rock!”), explained that he was particularly impressed when he saw all that Ernen was − and had been − doing in the performance and promotion of the art. He also shared with the group gathered for the prize ceremony at Ernen’s historic Tellenhaus (1576) that it moved him deeply to award this year’s check for the first time to an institution right in his own beloved “Heimat” (home territory), the Goms Valley.

Francesco Walter, Artistic Director of Musikdorf Ernen, was the first to point out another bridge between the world of sporting and classical music: both disciplines − whether professional or amateur − demand a great deal of commitment and very hard work. He gratefully accepted the award on behalf of the festival, its musicians, staff, local support and audiences, saying that he considered an award coming from of a private foundation, rather than a public institution or government department, even more rewarding for being a more personally driven acknowledgement of the work targeted. That, all agreed, is to bring world-class music to the historic Valais community, such that its superb reputation resonates far beyond the boundaries of the canton itself. Christine Clausen, the Mayor of Ernen, joined with her gracious thanks, adding her spirited humor and more wonderful Walliser dialect to the ceremony.

Around the formalities, concert pianist Paolo Giacometti played five short and varied pieces by Robert Schumann and Maurice Ravel as interludes. Taken together, those works gave all those attending an apt reflection, both of the fine music and extraordinary talents that the Musikdorf heartily underscores and promotes.

Ernen, Saturday, 5 August 2017, by Sarah Batschelet