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Summer festivals note mixed success

From Verdi to Alice Copper, summer concerts in Switzerland attracted tens of thousands of music fans

(Keystone)

Several summer music festivals in Switzerland finished at the weekend with contrasting results – the Gurten in the capital, Bern, did well, Montreux less so.

The Jazz Parade in Fribourg even saw its very existence threatened by the bad weather. It is now rethinking its future strategy.

Organisers of the 39th Montreux Jazz festival – the country’s oldest festival which takes place on the shores of Lake Geneva - are expecting a loss of SFr300,000 ($232,000) from a budget of SFr17 million. In all, 88,000 punters turned up – 12,000 fewer than last year.

Claude Nobs, the festival’s founder and director, said the line-up had been very strong musically – including jazz legend Oscar Peterson – but he explained that there was always a risk, when deciding the programme, of choosing acts that weren’t going to pack concert halls.

Nobs added that the festival had financial reserves to fall back on.

Sound success

The four-day Gurten festival in Bern on the other hand had a good year, selling as many tickets as in 2004.

It was sold out on Friday and after that 16,000 music-lovers came every day. The highlight for many was the appearance of British dance-punk band Prodigy.

Organisers said that the new Greenfield festival in Interlaken at the end of June didn’t have an adverse effect on tickets, as was feared.

Down in Locarno in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, the six concerts at the Moon and Stars event on the Piazza Grande attracted around 53,000 visitors.

At the inaugural festival last year only 43,500 visitors came, resulting in an estimated loss of half a million francs.

Two concerts were sold out this year – those of American rocker Lenny Kravitz and British Indie band Coldplay – and thanks to the commercial success this year, the 2006 festival is guaranteed.

High and low notes

Meanwhile, the 15th Classic Openair in Solothurn attracted 11,000 visitors, significantly more than in 2004.

There were ten performances in 12 days, including nine operas by among others Puccini, Rossini and Mozart. Only Verdi’s Macbeth was not sold out.

The 17th jazz festival in the alpine resort of Lenk, Jazz Days, recorded similar spectator figures to last year: around 30,000 people saw the 26 concerts and 16 bands.

However, the two-week Jazz Parade in Fribourg was less successful. After a cold and rainy first week total audience numbers were 60,000, compared with 80,000 last year.

Organisers said they would now be starting discussions with the authorities in Fribourg on alternative financing to help keep the parade’s concerts free.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Montreux Jazz Festival: 88,000 tickets sold (in 2004: 100,000)
Gurten Festival, Bern: 60,000 (60,000)
Jazz Parade, Fribourg: 60,000 (80,000)
Moon and Stars, Locarno: 53,000 (43,500)
Classic Openair, Solothurn: 11,000 (slight increase)
Jazz Days, Lenk: 30,000 (30,000)

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