Ernen takes the Doron Prize: An interview with Anton Clausen

The interview below first appeared (in German) in the May 2015 edition of Landschaftspark Binntal’s “Park Infos.”

President of the Musikdorf Ernen Association, Anton Clausen, recently talked about up-and-coming projects that the village is undertaking in cooperation with the Landschaftspark Binntal. He also discussed the promising future of Ernen’s music festival.

The Musikdorf Ernen received the coveted Doron Prize this past February, 2015. What does this award mean for the festival?
The Doron Prize − one of the most coveted awards in Switzerland – acknowledges the achievements of the Association and shows that it and the Foundation Musikdorf Ernen are highly valued.

The Doron Prize comes with an award of CHF 100,000. How will the money be put to use?
The funds will go to the Foundation Musikdorf Ernen, and assure its Association long-term financial support for fine concerts and various activities.

What projects is the Musikdorf planning, both in the near future, and farther down the road?
We’ll continue to work on quality assurance and various improvements around the concerts. We’d like, in fact, to extend the concert offer into the fall. Further, together with the Musikgesellshaft Frid, we are looking to find a new practice room for the musicians of both configurations.

The Musikdorf Ernen now has a reputation that goes out far beyond the village itself. What’s the significance the festival for the whole region?
The Association generates an annual income of some CHF 2 million. Over the past few years, we have also invested more than CHF 400,000 in improvements to the festival office, the lighting in the church, and its seating. For the most part, we’ve drawn on local suppliers to meet those demands.

The festival is growing incrementally. Is there a chance that it will meet its limits?
The concerts are very well attended, both in the church and the Tellenhaus. Nevertheless, there’s room for a larger audience, and we would like to attract that. Accommodation possibilities in Ernen − the hotels and smaller pensions alike – have limited capacity and are often booked out in the summer. We would graciously welcome an investor’s building and operating another hotel, preferably a person who shares the same enthusiasm for the Musikdorf that our artistic director, Francesco Walter, does!

Since the founding of the Landschaftspark Binntal, the Musikdorf and the park have been working together. Can you assess the cooperation to date? Where is there room for improvement?
The cooperation is a good one. Yet culture tourism is growing steadily worldwide. I believe the Landschaftspark, which, incidentally, runs Ernen’s Tourist Office, could improve it awareness of that.

What part of the Landschaftspark Binntal is your very favorite? Can you give any “insider tips” to visitors?
Personally, I like the Eggen, a lower alp that’s smack in the middle of the Park. Not only does it have terrific views, you can really take time in nature there and enjoy it fully. Of course, a hike through the Twingi Gorge or along the Suone Trusera is always fascinating, and it energizes the body, mind and soul, as well! 

How do you see the Musikdorf in ten years? Will it outshine the Lucerne Festival by then?
I’m no utopist. But in special areas, such as chamber music, the atmosphere in the church, and the village itself − with its numerous auxiliary programs – we might stand a chance of that. “Small and exquisite” is the Musikdorf Ernen’s middle name, and it already attracts music-lovers from all parts of the world.

Ernen, 17 July, 2015, translation by Sarah Batschelet