‘Dizzying panorama of sound’: Swiss Montreux Jazz Festival announces lineup

The Montreux Jazz Festival is to return this summer promising a "dizzying panorama of sound" after two years muted by the pandemic, with Diana Ross, Bjork, Stormzy and Herbie Hancock in the line-up unveiled on Wednesday.

Revellers at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2021. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
Revellers at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2021. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The 56th festival, from July 1 to 16 in the idyllic town on Lake Geneva, is turning to old friends and some new faces from the world of pop, rap, jazz and rock to get the show back up and running.

“After two editions of enforced silence, the two emblematic halls of the festival will finally be able to give the public and the artists the thrill of live performance again,” organisers said.

For more than half a century, Montreux has been a magnet for big names in the music business, as well as for rising stars. It has retained its jazz label despite dramatically expanding its repertoire since the first edition in 1967.

The 2020 festival was cancelled outright due to Covid-19, while the 2021 event was dramatically scaled down, featuring a small stage 25 metres (80 feet) out on the lake, opposite a grandstand holding 500 spectators.

The 2022 programme, “dense and bursting with colour, once again combines the timeless with the spirit of the times,” organisers said. 

Legend in the line-up 

Norwegian synth-pop trio a-ha are the opening night’s act in the 4,000-capacity Auditorium Stravinski, with the first weekend also featuring Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds followed by Icelandic songstress Bjork with the Sinfonietta de Lausanne.

John Legend, Paolo Nutini, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Diana Ross, the Alan Parsons Live Project, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Van Morrison Jeff Beck and Eurovision-winning Italian rockers Maneskin are also set to star on the main stage.

Meanwhile, the all-standing 2,000-capacity Montreux Jazz Lab will feature The Smile — a new project by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood — and British rapper Stormzy.

The festival will be closed by jazz piano great Hancock, 82, and Jamie Cullum. Motown idol Ross is making her Montreux debut at 78, while Bjork is returning for the first time in 24 years as she releases her 10th album. “This 2022 edition has a special flavour.

First of all because, like the world of culture in general, it is a sign that life is getting back on track,” said the festival’s chief executive Mathieu Jaton.

“We are all emerging from this crisis in different ways; some bruised, some stronger, some weakened, some hardened. But let us not forget that a festival is above all a moment of sharing and celebration.”

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”