Molde Jazz, one of the longest-running jazz festivals in the world, is turning 50 this week and Norway’s Minister of Culture Anniken Huitfeldt was on hand to help celebrate by leading its traditional opening parade through town.
Huitfeldt claimed that the jazz festival in Molde sets the standard for all other music festivals in Norway and her audience seemed to agree. Nearly 100,000 jazz fans are expected to pass through the small city in central Norway this week, to soak up the atmosphere, attend dozens of concerts and also enjoy the free performances occurring around town.
Huitfeldt also helped the festival celebrate its first half-century by laying down the cornerstone for a new cultural center to be built in d0wntown Molde. It will serve as a future headquarters for Molde Jazz and also be used for the annual literature festival known as Bjørnsonfestivalen, as well as housing the city’s art center, a theater and library.
Monday’s opening events included a free concert with the Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra from Japan, featuring around 20 performers, musicians and artists. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that the performance set the tone for a multi-cultural festival in the days to come.
At a time when many music festivals are suffering financial problems, Molde Jazz (external link) is vigorous. “The others stand on Molde’s shoulders,” claimed Huitfeldt, while Aftenposten noted that only four other jazz festivals in the world have been in continuous operation as long as Molde’s.
This year’s festival will feature such well-known musicians as Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Jeff Beck, Bobby McFerrin and Gary Burton, along with Norway’s own Karin Krog, Ketil Bjørnstad and Terje Rypdal, among others. Concerts run through Saturday night.