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Geschichte Stiftung

The long history of SON

The present-day foundation was only established in 1997. The composition of the foundation board at that time hints at the complexity of the previous history. Apart from the former Orchester-Gesellschaft Biel (OGB), the Schweizerischer Musikerverband (SMV), the Schweizerischer Musikpädagogische Verband (SMPV), the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, the Verband der schweizerischen Berufsorchester (VESBO) as well as the Carlo und Irene Fetzer-Stiftung were part of the foundation board. How did this extensive and noticeable sponsorship come about? The roots of SON go far back into the early 20th century!


In 1927 the Städtebundtheater was founded. The three-part company with acting, opera/operetta and ballet was based in the cities of Biel and Solothurn and also performed in the associated towns Grenchen, Langenthal, Burgdorf and other locations. Because the company was under strong financial pressure for decades, the needed professional instrumentalists were hired on precarious conditions and mostly only seasonal. So it came that acknowledged artists needed to survive the summer months as labourers in badly payed jobs in hotel kitchens, tax administrations or warehouses.


1957 marked the breakout from this unpleasant situation. At the initiative of a musician and with the support of the tourism director of Biel at that time, the city of Biel attempted to launch summer concerts, and it worked. Each week six concerts were performed, as well as an apéro concert on Sundays, first at the lake, later mainly in the city park. The audience thanked these gratuitous celebrations with high attendance. At the same time, the professional musicians quickly reached their artistic limits. If the orchestra wanted to move away from light entertainment music and also perform more complex orchestral works, it was urgently necessary to expand the core ensemble. Two institutions showed lasting solidarity: Thanks to special financing by the SMV, up to twenty volunteers were able to participate in July and August. They not only enlarged the orchestra but also received further training at the beginning of their employment through special rehearsals with their respective principles. And the prominent flagship of the Swiss orchestras, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, contributed to the financing by transferring the proceeds of a recording. These orchestral internships quickly became a sought-after institution, to which access was only gained by passing a selective audition. The chief conductor at the time, Armin Jordan, was largely responsible for the artistic success.


Around 1970, there was a great reorganization. While the Städtebundtheater was dissolved at the end of 1970 and practically all the employees lost their jobs, the Orchestergesellschaft Biel (OGB), founded a year earlier in 1969, was able to take on the musicians of the theater and found with them the now fully professional symphony orchestra, while the amateurs came together to form the Bieler Kammerorchester. From then on, the orchestra was shaped artistically primarily by the conductor and composer Jost Meier.


The OGB was implicitly under internal and external pressure to compete with other and financially disproportionately stronger Swiss symphony orchestras despite limited circumstances. It shook off this pressure with a return to earlier experiences by adopting the task of a training orchestra. The summer concerts were continued with the help of young musicians, and over time a training model was formed under the label ABC: Courses and concerts according to a proven pattern in July stand for A, a four-week orchestral internship in the OGB in August for B, a seasonal internship in concert and theater for C.


Thus, the OGB had positioned and consolidated itself to such an extent that in 1995 the SMV no longer considered it justified to continue supporting the orchestra. This, on the other hand, called into question the summer concerts. Consequently, only two years later, in 1997, the abovementioned institutions established the foundation SON. The fact that the SMV was again involved, underlines the important aspect of education for young musicians. And the active presence of the VESBO could be a milestone towards a nationwide commitment of TOBS and SON in educational matters.


Notes Edi Benz, editorial Marc van Wijnkoop Lüthi




Philippe Savoy

Chairman of the Foundation Board

Director of the Site de Fribourg of the HEMU (Haute Ecole de Musique Vaud-Valais-Fribourg)


Daniel Schädeli

Vice President

Representative of the SMV


Yannis Pouspourikas


Principal conductor of the Sinfonie Orchester Biel Solothurn

Paola De Luca 2.jpeg

Paola De Luca


Co-president of the SMPV


Matthias Walpen


Representitive of the SMV - Sektion Biel

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Dieter Kaegi


Board member of


Christine Lüthi

Managing Director SON

LINKultur GmbH

Anker 1

Annual Reports

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