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Montreux festival welcomes jazzed up results

Legendary blues singer B.B. King was one of the stars

(Keystone)

The Montreux Jazz Festival, which has been celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, has ended on a high note.

Organisers say that not only are visitor numbers up, but the festival's finances are in better shape as well.

Speaking on Friday, the penultimate day of the festival, the president and director of the festival, Claude Nobs and François Carrard, said the results for this year were "very positive".

The number of tickets sold has visibly increased and was expected to break the all-important 100,000 barrier by the time the festival closed on Saturday. Last year only 88,000 tickets were sold.

Including the free events, the number of visitors should amount to around 230,000 this year.

Among the big names in Montreux who drew in the music lovers this summer were BB King, Al Jarreau, Van Morrison and Sting.

The two-week long event, which has attracted more than 2,000 musicians, also looks as if it will break even in 2006.

Relief

News about the improved finances will come as some relief to Nobs, whose festival has struggled to stay in the black over the past few years. In 2002 alone, the deficit was SFr750,000 ($608,000).

This is a major reason why the 70-year-old Nobs reiterated on Friday an appeal for financial support from the canton of Vaud, Montreux's home canton.

Last week he told the French-language newspaper, Le Temps, that he would like Vaud to provide a ten per cent deficit guarantee for his SFr18 million budget.

However, not everyone agrees with Nobs on the issue. Daniel Rossellat, head of the Paléo festival in Nyon, was quoted by the Swiss news agency as saying that festivals should do without local authority subsidies and leave themselves open to competition.

As for the future, Nobs said the Montreux Jazz Festival was to undergo an overhaul to see what could be improved for next year, but gave few other details about his plans for 2007.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

It was Claude Nobs who brought the Rolling Stones to Montreux in 1964 for their first performance on the European continent.

This allowed Nobs to give up his job as an accountant at the Montreux tourist office.

The first Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967 lasted three days and had a budget of SFr10,000 ($8,000). The 2006 budget was SFr18 million.

Next year's festival will take place from July 6-21, 2007.

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