The JAZZ SAALFELDEN WEEKENDER was a resounding success!
After all artistic and cultural events were canceled for several months, we breathed a sigh of relief when COVID-19 measures were eased up at the end of May. We immediately decided to show the world that the Saalfelden Jazz Festival is alive and well. Heralding optimism and confidence, we set out to delight music enthusiasts with a weekend full of concerts. That’s how the idea for the Jazz Saalfelden Weekender was born. Even though our festival didn’t take its usual form with concerts occurring on the Congress Center’s main stage and on the big stage on the town square, we were still able to host happenings with music for everyone—from jazz to pop—from August 20-23, 2020.
“After we were forced to cancel our original plans on April 17, we had to start from scratch at the end of May, after regulations related to COVID-19 were eased up,” states Wolfgang Hartl, Programming Saalfelden Jazz Festival. “Going back to the drawing board was easy, especially since the government of the province of Salzburg and the Federal Chancellor’s Office felt the need to support the cultural scene, which had already taken so many hits. After this long dry spell, we also wanted to offer live musical performances in Saalfelden Leogang again, with free admission. And besides, we could not have imagined a summer in Saalfelden without jazz.”
The concerts took place in the city park, at Kunsthaus Nexus, at the Schloss Ritzen Museum and at the Ranch, on the roof terrace of the Congress Center and on mountain pastures, and at the legendary Fuchs bookbindery. For the first time in the festival’s history, the Saalfelden parish church also turned into a stage—with the kind permission of Father Alois Moser. Jazz greats such as Manu Delago and Lorenz Raab enchanted audiences at this special location. Additional highlights included musical walks on the sunny trails of Leogang’s Asitz mountain, where participants also enjoyed splendid views. On Friday and Saturday, Austrian musician Lukas Kranzelbinder—a regular at our festival—accompanied the hikes.
Weekend guests included Mario Rom's Interzone; Training feat. Max Andrzejewski and Johnny Schleiermacher; Duo 4675 feat. Astrid & Beate Wiesinger; Fabian Rucker; Katharina Ernst; die Strottern & Blech; Voodoo Jürgens; Fuzzman; Mira Lu Kovacs; Cari Cari; Ankathie Koi; Neon and The Deons; and many more. Due to current travel restrictions, we were not able to bring musicians from all over the world to Saalfelden. “When designing the program for the Weekender, we wanted to be as inclusive as possible,” says Mario Steidl, the festival’s artistic director. “We wanted to spread joy and confidence at our festival and thus convey some sense of normalcy. Culture connects, and we are in dire need of connection right now. We therefore not only wanted to draw jazz fans, but also appeal to broader tastes and familiarize new audience members with jazz. That is why the stages at the Nexus and in the park featured jazz and pop artists in equal measure. Concerts at the bookbindery and the church clearly focused on jazz and improvised music, foregrounding musicians from Austria. In spite of the restrictions, we were able to invite some of the cream of the crop of the young Austrian jazz scene and provide a platform for them.”
By spreading positivity, optimism, and joy through art, Saalfelden upheld its reputation as a city of music in the midst of the mountains in 2020. By imposing limits on audience numbers, the festival’s organizational team paid the utmost attention to safety protocols. “Together with our COVID-19 representative Markus Schwaiger from EcoService+ Consulting, we developed a comprehensive concept that guaranteed the highest degree of safety for visitors, artists, and employees at the performance venues,” explains Marco Pointner, the organizer of the Saalfelden Jazz Festival. “This year, we required visitors to register in advance for the concerts. We installed touchless scanning devices for tickets and required our visitors and employees to cover their mouths and noses with masks. We also followed a one-meter distance rule among other things. Our visitors were very understanding and grateful that we were able to organize such an inspiring festival in spite of all the restrictive measures.”
The date for the 41st Saalfelden International Jazz Festival has also been set: it will take place from August 19 to 22, 2021. We look forward to welcoming you in one year!