What our Alumni say


Esther Hoppe, Violin


As a 15- and 16-year-old, I got to know other young, talented musicians at Astona, whom I encountered again and again during my years of study (as well as thereafter). The weeks in Astona were filled with musical impulses for me, which were essential and indispensible for my future. I can warmly recommend Astona to all young people as a place where concentrated work takes place and where one makes contacts for life!


born 1978, Switzerland 

Participant 1993,  1994, 1995



Christian Poltéra, Cello                               


From the age of twelve, I took part in Astona six times in a row. Today I regard these summers as an indispensible and formative part of my development as a cellist and musician. The personal and musical exchange with peers from the world over as well as the first-class, demanding musical instruction of the Astona teachers were highly inspiring for me, motivating and of essential importance for my further professional career.


born 1977, Switzerland

Participant 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993

Linus Roth, Violin


Naturally I have loads of wonderful memories of Astona, which remain with me until today. When I was in Astona for the first time at age 12, a whole new world opened up for me. Suddenly I was surrounded by young people who loved music as much as I did! This was wonderful, as I was the only pupil in my class at school who played a classical instrument. For five summers Astona was the yearly highlight of my youth: the exchange of ideas with others, playing chamber music, meeting musicians from other countries, learning from observing others who were more advanced, and the breathtaking Swiss scenery: all this contributed to unforgettable experiences, which I so enjoy remembering to this day. Astona gave me enough inspiration in all ways to get me through the year until the next summer! Nowadays I frequently encounter friends and acquaintances from Astona in the music world with whom a conversation invariably begins: «Remember back then when we were in Astona together....?»


born 1977, Gernany

Participant 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995


Philippe Jordan, Conductor


As a young student, I was privileged to take part in Astona International three times. This experience was for me personally, musically and for my future of immense value. I was able to experience that there are many like-minded young people who invest their enthusiasm and their time in music and in their instrument, and I was able to learn what healthy competition means, namely an incredible incentive to improve and develop myself and to use this as the motivation to practise piano six hours per day. The faculty members were all highly-qualified, and each one was able to impart to me in his or her own way something which was an enrichment to that which I had gained from my own teachers. The special attention to chamber music was for me the central aspect, where one not only learned to express oneself and to meet other talented young colleagues at the same level, but to listen to each other and communicate with each other, which I consider the most important quality in making music. It is always a pleasure, in my career as a conductor, to meet professional musicians nowadays who were with me back then in Astona.


born 1974, Switzerland

Participant 1990, 1992, 1992


Marcel Kits, Cello


Thank you very much for Astona 2012. It was really wonderful to be here third time and I enjoyed everything here very much. I really appreciate that you let me, Rasmus and Robert play together the Frank Martin piano trio which was really wonderful piece. They loved the course very much and started thinking of coming back already in the second week. It was also a pleasure to us to have guidance from Francis Gouton, who is a really great teacher in both chamber music and in my private lessons. We are already looking forward to Astona 2013!


born 1995, Estonia  

Participant 2010,  2011, 2012, 2013


Mother of Hana Mizuta-Spencer, Violin


Thank you very much for another fantastic three weeks . Hana said she enjoyed even more than last year! It was beautiful Gala concert - Hana did not tell me that she was going to play at gala concert! Astona gave Hana something special and these experience would stay for ever. I admire your effort to organise such a great course.  Hana is already making plan for next year!


born 1997, England

Participant 2011, 2012, 2013


Mother of Laura van der Heijden, Cello


I would like to thank you for what Laura considers the best 3 weeks of her life! Astona was appealing to her in every possible dimension, which is wonderful, considering how hard it is to find a good standard summer course for a young teenager. I really appreciate your efforts for her chamber music, I know it sadly didn't work out the way you had planned it, but nevertheless I was impressed with your judgment - obviously you have vast experience, and Laura had a good time with the trio anyway. Laura very much enjoyed her lessons with Francis Gouton, an enjoyment that seems to have been mutual. 


born 1997, England

Participant 2011

Linda Heiberga, Cello


I just wanted to let you know that I really, really enjoyed being in Astona. I am so thankful for the opportunity you have given me since my first Astona!!! It was always the most exciting and productive time of my summer. I truly enjoyed returning to Astona every summer and I will miss it!


born 1978, Latvia

Participant 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Katariina Kits, Violin


I want to thank you with all my heart for your huge work and dedication for Astona and the extraordinary opportunity for us to be part of it. Not only me, but also my friends from Astona have realized, how much we have actually learned and how much inspiration we have got. Without Astona we wouldn’t be there where we are now. I remember the times about four-six years ago, when Astona was the most important thing during the year, I counted every single day which passed since previous Astona and how many days are left until the next one in my practice journal. Thank you very much!!!


born 1995, Estonia

Participant 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018

Mother of Neil Dixon, Violin

I wanted to thank you a lot and let you know how much Neil loved his music course at ASTONA and enjoyed every moment being there! He had an amazing experience, and can't stop talking about it - his course, his teachers, his new friends and everybody. He had some amazing teachers who taught him so much and with who he wants to keep in contact. He says he had the best time in his life and he can't wait to go back there again next year! Thank you very much for all that you have done for them.


born  2001, England

Participant 2017, 2018 

Michaela Fruend, Viola

 I had the opportunity to catch up with two friends from Astona today in New York, and we were talking about what a wonderful experience we had at Astona.  I wanted to send you a quick email to thank you for all that you do to make Astona happen. I am so grateful for the two summers I was able to spend there. I'm continually amazed at both the phenomenal faculty and extremely talented students (not to mention the beautiful setting!);  It is such an inspiring combination!  Thank you so much for everything!


born 1994, USA

Participant 2013, 2014 

Jennifer Murphy, Violin

I would like to thank you most sincerely for giving me the opportunity to attend Astona this summer. It was a wonderful experience in so many respects. I feel I have learned so much from all of the marvelous teachers and indeed from the other students there. I have made so many new friends from all around the world whom I know will be friends for life!


born 1988, Irland

Participant 2011, 2012, 2013 

Emily Mather, Violine

I want to thank you so much for giving me the experience of a lifetime this summer at Astona.  I learned so much and grew so much as both a musician and a person, and it was all thanks to this beautiful program you have built.  I feel so lucky to have had such an amazing experience, and I am truly going to use everything that I have learned within those three weeks to better myself even more the best that I can for my future.  The program not only helped me build upon and work at the skills I had brought to the table to begin with, but also open up new doors and ideas that I had never come across in my musical studies before.  I feel so fortunate to have had an opportunity such as this, and I cannot thank you enough times for giving me such a life-changing experience.  


Jahrgang 1992, USA

Participant 2011, 2012

Valle-Rasmus Roots, Cello

I want to thank You from the bottom of my heart for these fantastic 3 weeks. These 2 times in my life when I have attended Astona have been the most inspiring events. I´m also very grateful for receiving these scholarships, without it I couldn´t have had that great chance to attend Astona.


born 1994

Participant 2011, 2012, 2013

Auli Lonks, Piano

I am writing you to express my gratitude for everything that the Astona team has offered us again this year. Once again, it was a very educational, exciting and inspiring three weeks, that influences us for a long time. I want to thank you sincerely for having me in the course again, that for me is the greatest gift and has indescribable importance for me as a musician. I want to thank you personally, the whole organizing team, the teachers and everyone, who made this fantastic course possible. Thank you for giving us the time of our life and the experience, that we will remember for a lifetime. All the best to you and good luck for organizing this very special course!


born 1994, Estonia

Participant 2013, 2016 

Valentin Malanetchi, Piano

I want to thank you for these wonderful, amazing, exciting three weeks together in Astona. It was probably the best summer in my life, and in these three weeks I improved maybe more than in the whole past year. It was, besides the first-class teaching, a huge performing experience, which I needed so much. I had an amazing performance in Zurich. I still can't believe that I played so beautiful the Ballade. When I started playing the middle section (Tempo I), I started to cry without tears, for it was so beautiful. The audience was very nice. I had to come back and bow three times. And also, our Smetana Trio in Unterägeri was pretty good. I just wanted to show you my deep gratitude for everything you did for me. Looking forward for a new, amazing Astona 2012, and wishing you all the best.


born 1995, Moldova

Participant 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015

Mother of Jan Inge Dryhaug, Cello

It has been three happy and meaningful weeks for Jan Inge at Astona this year. He felt very comfortable with you in Astona without me being right beside him, even though this is the first time ever. I am very grateful for your care for him. It is very comforting for me to know that Astona has a strict daily routine so that all the students could get enough rest for the next day to get the most out of the course. Jan Inge loved the indivual lessons, the chamber music, orkestre, house concerts and public concerts and meeting other ambitious youths playing wonderful music, all in beautiful sorroundings and friendly atmosphere.  Astona has met every expectation we had. Thank you all very much.


born 1997, Norway

Participant 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Mother of Mira Williams, Viola

It took awhile to get through all of the pictures and videotapes, but I wanted to see everything before I sent you a note. Mira had a most wonderful time in Switzerland. She says she now feels like a "world traveler." I want to thank you and your staff for taking such good care of my child. Mira now has memories and new friends she will never forget. She said the food was great, especially the soup! I heard stories of clouds that floated into the rooms, cowbells and fun times. Most of all she really enjoyed making music with all of the students. I am so glad I have the videotape of her performing with the orchestra. It was a great experience for her. Thanks again for everything.


born 1997, USA

Participant 2011