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Spectacular start to anniversary celebrations in Basel

To the rousing strains of Gustav Mahler's Eighth Symphony, Basel has begun a year-long programme of festivities to mark the 500th anniversary of its two half-cantons joining the Swiss Confederation.

Nearly 7,000 people were in the city's main trade fair building for the opening concert, which was sold out weeks in advance.

There was music from 15 local choirs - with some 800 singers - and Mahler's "Sinfonie der Tausend" was played by the Basel Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Howard Griffiths.

It cost about SFr800,000 ($500,000) to stage the spectacle, which was financed by ticket sales, sponsorship and grants from the half-cantons of Basel City and Basel Country.

swissinfo with agencies


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