Feature: Jazz echoes again in Montreux, Switzerland amid pandemic

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 17, 2021
Adjust font size:

by Martina Fuchs

MONTREUX, Switzerland, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The legendary Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland wraps up its 55th edition on Saturday, an event showcasing up-and-coming young talent and celebrating world music while defying heavy rainstorms and pandemic restrictions.

The prestigious summer music event staged its comeback July 2-17 on the shores of Lake Geneva, taking place in a reduced but intimate format on four stages, including a floating stage built on the lake, for a limited number of fans with a COVID-19-free certificate.

"It was a big challenge, definitely," Mathieu Jaton, CEO of the Festival, told Xinhua. "We decided in March that we should launch the festival, that we should do something."

"We decided to just turn the table completely and make something completely different, which fits the brand values of the festival, which is patrimony, intimacy, quality and innovation," Jaton said.

Nestled between the Alps and the Switzerland's largest body of water, minutes from the terraced vineyards of Lavaux, the festival drew nearly 250,000 music lovers every year in usual times.

"The overall capacity is roughly 2,000 a day, which is much smaller than what we are used to because normally it's like 20,000 people a day," he said.

"But what we see, what is very interesting and what we were looking for, is that the spirit of the festival is still there," he said.

Although COVID-19 infection rates in Switzerland have stabilized in recent months, allowing the Swiss government to slowly ease restrictions, many outdoor music festivals, including the Paleo in Nyon and Bern's Gurten festival, were cancelled for the second year in a row.


The Montreux Jazz Festival was created in 1967 by Claude Nobs and takes place for two weeks every summer.

After last year's cancellation due to the pandemic, musicians such as Woodkid, Zucchero, Ibrahim Maalouf, Nathy Peluso, and Sam Fischer featured on the program this time.

Under the slogan "Where Legends Are Born," supporting young Swiss and international talents has always been at the heart of the festival.

Rising Tamil-Swiss star Priya Ragu, who mixes R&B and electro-pop with Sri Lankan and South Indian sounds, said her dreams came true in Montreux.

"This is my first time in Montreux. I have been dreaming about it for a very long time and I can't believe that it's actually happening. I'm very, very excited," she told Xinhua before her concert.

Ragu released her new single "Kamali" during the festival and announced her upcoming debut mixtape.

"I was at a concert here in Montreux from The Neptunes years ago, and I was standing in line and just thinking: If I make it here one day then I can die happily," she said.

In its more than 50 years of history, the small Swiss town of Montreux has hosted iconic performances by music legends Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.

While jazz, soul and blues are at the roots of the event, other styles of music have quickly found their place. In recent years, superstars like Lady Gaga, Muse, Radiohead, Pharrell Williams, Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys, Adele and others have performed here.

"It's a bit strange to perform at the Montreux Jazz during COVID but at the same time it's an honour and a privilege," said Arma Jackson, a winner at the Swiss Music Awards 2021.

Malian singer-songwriter and guitarist Fatoumata Diawara, who received two nominations at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, told Xinhua, "We often come to Switzerland to play, to perform, honestly. But the Montreux Jazz Festival is very special, it's really special."

Even torrential rainfalls and thunderstorms in Switzerland this week could not take away spectators' joy to once again witness a live music event.

"I have been waiting for so long, I don't care about the rain. Let the music live!" festival-goer Jessica Villeneuve who traveled from Geneva said.


Since the end of the 1970s, the Montreux Jazz Festival has exported its savoir-faire, heritage and atmosphere to various cities around the world with editions in Sao Paulo, Detroit, Atlanta, Singapore, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro.

The event is expected to travel to China for the first time in the fall, with the first edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival China taking place in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, between Oct. 4 and Oct. 8 under the theme "When West Meets East."

"We are very proud, and we are very honoured to have the Montreux Jazz Festival for the first time ever in China in Hangzhou," said festival CEO Jaton. Enditem

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter