The Montreux Jazz Festival launches its 55th edition from July 2–17, with Meyer Sound returning for its 35th year as a Strategic Partner and Official Sound Provider. Although scaled back with fewer venues and lower capacities to meet local health and safety guidelines, the legendary Swiss festival nevertheless promises a new audience experience as the principal venue moves outdoors to the scenic shoreline of Lake Geneva.
“This year we reimagined the festival to adapt to the times,” says Marco Güntensperger, production manager for the festival. “It was a major challenge, so it was great to again collaborate with our longtime partner, Meyer Sound. Their team was instrumental in finding the best audio solutions, such as at the new Lake Stage, to ensure a great experience for artists and fans alike.”
The Meyer Sound system at the Lake Stage is based around Meyer Sound LEOPARD® line arrays for the mains, with deep bass support from 900-LFC™ low-frequency control elements. ULTRA-X40™ and ULTRA-X20™ — Meyer Sound’s newest point source loudspeakers — are deployed to cover the outer seating terraces. The Lake Stage, with seating for 500, hosts most of this year’s headline acts, including Camélia Jordana, Zucchero, Woodkid, and Ibrahim Maalouf.
“It feels great to be out doing live music again,” says José Gaudin, a Meyer Sound technical support specialist who also has mixed FOH for the festival since 2007. “The new Lake Stage is very impressive. When the sun sets over the lake with the concert going, it is an unbelievable experience. It was a challenge moving outside, but it was well worth the effort.”
More than 160 Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers and MJF Series stage monitors are deployed across the festival’s four venues. The second venue with paid admission, the Petit Theatre, seats 300 and features jazz and soul acts such as Bill Evans, Robben Ford, and The Paradox. For this venue, the LINA® line arrays are augmented by 1100-LFC™ and 750-LFC™ low-frequency control elements with ULTRA-X40 loudspeakers for fill systems.
Two venues with free admission offer workshops and casual performances throughout the festival. The Grand Hall is equipped with ULTRA-X40 loudspeakers and 750-LFC elements for the main room, with ULTRA-X20 loudspeakers covering the outer corridor. The outdoor stage at the Palace Gardens accommodates up to 300 for impromptu acoustic showcases, with reinforcement provided by UPA-1P and UPJunior™ loudspeakers with 750-LFC elements and 500-HP subwoofers for low-frequency support.
“Having a partner like Meyer Sound for so many years has helped us focus on the new challenges we had this year,” says Martin Reich of audioconsulting ag, the festival’s sound coordinator. “We never had to worry about technical issues. Meyer Sound is always at hand, ready to help with whatever we think would add to audience satisfaction.”
Audio systems were supplied by Skynight SA under the overall direction of Nicolas Walser with on-site project management by Goran Pajic. Additional assistance was provided by Eddy Broquet of Meyer Sound’s Swiss distributor, Tonspur.
For all the production crews involved with the Montreux Jazz Festival, this year’s return after 2020’s cancellation due to the pandemic marks an emotional reconnection to a beloved tradition. “We haven’t been able to gather together for nearly two years now, so it is a warm welcome for everybody arriving on site,” says Martin Reich. “It’s important to give people hope, to prove that the industry is alive, it has survived, and it will come back stronger and bolder than ever.”
“The festival is like a family,” adds José Gaudin, “and getting back together is like a family reunion after a very difficult time.”
Photo: © Emilien Itim, Marc Ducrest