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Switzerland gears up for star-studded summer

Santana is guest of honour at Montreux (Montreux Jazz Festival) Montreux website

This year’s summer festival season promises to be a star-studded one, with many events offering big names from the rock, jazz and pop worlds.

This content was published on June 6, 2004 - 15:36

Carlos Santana, David Bowie, Dido and Alicia Keys are just some of the artists set to perform in Switzerland this summer.

Organisers are hoping to build on the success of last year’s festival season – which was also helped by the unusually hot summer – and have produced an impressive array of international stars.

From July 2 to 17, Montreux will be hosting its 38th Jazz Festival on the shores of Lake Geneva.

This year's programme includes Alicia Keys, Van Morrison, Swiss resident Phil Collins, The Corrs, The Black Eyed Peas and Status Quo.

One of the highlights is expected to be a series of three concerts by this year’s guest of honour, guitar legend Carlos Santana.

“There will be a Santana blues night with guests, then Santana wants to introduce his son, Salvador Santana, so people will also be able to see father and son together,” said Stephanie-Aloysia Moretti, coordinator of special events at the Jazz Festival.

“The last concert will be his big event, called Hymns for Peace - a special night dedicated to peace in the world with special guests such as [jazz pianists] Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock,” she told swissinfo.

Pop chameleon

Another high-profile artist making an appearance this summer is evergreen pop legend David Bowie.

He tops the bill at the Paléo Festival in Nyon – billed as the country’s largest music event.

“Bowie will be playing for the first time at Paléo and it will be his only show in Switzerland this summer,” said festival organiser Sébastien Vuignier.

Peter Gabriel and British glam rockers, The Darkness, will also be putting in appearances.

French songs and world music – including a whole stage devoted to Latin American sounds – also feature on the festival programme.

Paléo expects to attract more than 200,000 people to its 120 events.

Tip of the iceberg

But Paléo and Montreux only represent a fraction of the musical entertainment on offer this summer in Switzerland – a country which is said to have one of the highest concentration of open-air events in Europe.

At least a dozen major open-air festivals are scheduled between the end of June and the beginning of September, not including over twenty smaller events offering everything from jazz to Irish music.

US rocker Lenny Kravitz will be playing the Open Air in Uster near Zurich, while punk rock star Pink will be at the Open Air Gampel in canton Valais.

Italian pop star Eros Ramazzotti has been booked to appear at Paléo, the Outside Festival in Dielsdorf and the Moon and Stars ’04 Festival in Locarno.

Also scheduled to grace the stage in Locarno are British and Canadian singers, Dido and Alanis Morissette.

No threat

The organisers of some of the older and more established events seem unconcerned about the competition from the growing number of festivals in Switzerland.

“We are lucky because Paléo has existed for 29 years, so people like it and carry on coming,” said Vuignier.

Those in charge at Montreux say that although some of the other events offer larger venues and can sell more tickets to pay for big-name artists, the annual Jazz Festival can still hold its own.

“Our director and founder Claude Nobs has been here for 38 years and knows everybody very well and that kind of very specific relationship makes things different,” said Moretti.

“Even though there are plenty of other festivals around here, I think Montreux will always be special.”

swissinfo, Isobel Leybold

Key facts

Montreux Jazz Festival: July 2-17.
Uster Open Air: July 2-4.
Moon and Stars ’04, Locarno: July 5-11.
Outside Festival, Dielsdorf: July 9-11.
Paléo Festival: July 20-25.
Open Air Gampel: August 19-22.

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