Backstage at the Retro Festival, Luzern

Last week I covered the story of Hotel Schweizerhof in Luzern and mentioned the Retro Festival which happened this past weekend.

What an ideal setting and evening to host such event! The sky was completely clear (quite unusual these days!) with a red moon growing in intensity as the evening matured. The crowd was ecstatic and eager to watch Peter Cetera perform, for the very first time in Europe!

For those who are not familiar with him, Peter Cetera is an American singer, songwriter, and bassist best known for being an original member of the rock band Chicago, before he launched his solo career.


Time didn’t allow me to interview Peter Cetera but I got to briefly talk with the Director of the festival Phil Dankner while Mr. Cetera was being photographed backstage. 

What first caught my attention was his noticeable sartorial elegance. From head to toe, Phil exuded sophistication and style. It was undeniable that he took pride in his presentation.

Phil Dankner, Art & Musical Director

How did you get started at the Schweizerhof? 

I used to work for different agencies and played at concerts as a piano player. I noticed that in places like London there were many festivals covering 80s music but nothing of sort in Switzerland. I thought it was a shame that there was nothing similar here. I felt that maybe the Schweizerhof could use someone like me to help with their concerts and festivals but also to bring new ideas. I applied and got the job! Basically I created my own position and that’s why and how the Retro Festival was born!

I get to work with  many of my childhood idols!  

How do you connect with the artists?

There are a couple of ways to connect with them.  Most of the time we connect via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. But most of the acts work with agencies with affiliates in Europe. I write to them then they write me back.  A lot of back and forth but once they realize where the Festival is taking place then they feel very comfortable and confirm immediately!  What better place to be than Lucerne?  Just look outside the window, it’s like a postcard.

Peter Cetera had never toured in Europe before always in Asia but never here, which is very surprising to me.  As soon as he saw pictures online he booked his tickets and asked to add 3 more dates!

Why did he never make it to Europe before?

I asked him and he said that no one ever invited him!  I personally love his music, I used to listen to Chicago growing up.

What is the crowd like?

We have it all! People have come from Spain, Germany and Holland.  They are here because they want to see Peter Cetera perform.

Other projects?

Many things coming up at the hotel but also outside. I will, starting mid October, tour with The Seat Music Session, a 360° concert where the band and artists perform surrounded by the audience, lounging in comfortable chairs. 

I will also work as a Host at this year’s Zurich Film FestivalI will conduct interviews with the cast of the movies presented.

I couldn’t be happier! I’m doing everything that I love. I live my passion every day!

Thank you Clemens Hunziker, Roman Omlin and last but not least Pascal Bandi for such a warm reception!


Featured photography by Marc Gilgen

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