by Martina Fuchs
MONTREUX, Switzerland, July 10 (Xinhua) -- The 56th edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland continues its exploration to tie people together by using the universal language of music.
The festival, which runs through July 16, aims to offer young global music talents and emerging Chinese artists an opportunity to shine on the big stage, said Mathieu Jaton, CEO of the Festival.
"Where Legends Are Born" is the slogan of the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival, which was created in 1967 by Claude Nobs and takes place for two weeks every summer.
This year's event comes back in full swing along the shores of Lake Geneva, featuring more than 500 concerts and activities on 13 stages.
"We're very happy because we have an amazing line-up this year which really goes deep into the core of music of the Montreux Jazz Festival," Jaton told Xinhua.
This year's event aims to mix new pop icons and jazz legends, elite rappers and mythical rockers, an avant-garde personality and the orchestra.
"Last year, we've been very lucky that we were able to organize a very small festival," Jaton said. "COVID-19 is still there, there are still some threats and artists canceling because they are sick. But touching wood, now it's getting better."
Nestled between the Alps and Switzerland's largest body of water, minutes from the terraced vineyards of Lavaux, the festival drew nearly 250,000 music lovers every year before the pandemic.
In its more than 50 years of history, the festival has hosted iconic performances by music legends, including Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and Marvin Gaye.
While jazz, soul and blues are at the event's roots, other music styles have quickly found their place. In recent years, superstars like Pharrell Williams, Ed Sheeran, Adele and others have performed here.
Jaton said that giving voice to and supporting young Swiss and international talents has always been at the heart of the festival.
"'Spotlight' is a brand-new initiative we launched at the beginning of 2021. It's an initiative that finds emerging artists, produces them, makes videos of them and helps them through the partnership we have with TikTok, for example, to leverage their art on the digital platforms ... it works tremendously well," Jaton said.
"We're so proud and so happy to have created such initiatives which help the talents of tomorrow to get known all around the world," he added.
In April, the Montreux Jazz Festival launched its first collection of non-fungible tokens with the American platform OneOf, supported by the American musician and most nominated Grammy artist of all time Quincy Jones.
"Innovation and technology are really part of the DNA of the festival," Jaton said. "We want to make the balance between heritage, patrimony and innovation."
Jaton also hopes to raise the curtain and give more opportunities to Chinese musicians to launch their careers abroad.
Since the 1970s, the Montreux Jazz Festival has exported its savoir-faire, heritage and atmosphere to various cities worldwide with editions in Sao Paulo, Detroit, Atlanta, Singapore, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro.
Last October, the Montreux Jazz Festival traveled to China for the first time to the eastern city of Hangzhou under the theme "Where East Meets West."
"China of course is such a big country with so much potential. Musically for us, it's very interesting to have like a sister festival there," Jaton said, adding "It's also a way to better know the Chinese culture and the Chinese music."
The Montreux Jazz Festival China featured performances by nine bands and 46 musicians from six countries. Amid COVID-19 restrictions, 1,000 people attended in person daily, while 2,240,000 viewers participated via online streaming.
"If Montreux could be part of this beginning of their careers and start to organize shows in Europe, we want to be part of it," Jaton said. "That's why we are very happy to have a festival in China." ■