Organizers of the Kongsberg Jazz Festival are hopeful major international acts including US legend Stevie Wonder will make their 50th anniversary event the biggest festival in Norway this year. Ticket pre-sales before the festival opened on Wednesday were 10 times better than last year, and manager Kai Gustavsen said Konsgberg could topple Molde for Norway’s jazz festival crown.
“There is no reason to believe the goal of becoming the largest shouldn’t be achieved,” Gustavsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). A few weeks out from Wednesday’s opening ticket pre-sales had already reached 14,000, with 9,000 expected for Stevie Wonder’s headline performance on Saturday night. Organizers predicted total ticket sales of 21,000, earning revenues of NOK 11.5 million (USD 1.8 million).
If the expected ticket sales were reached, Kongsberg’s four-day festival would overtake the event at Molde later this month. The Molde jazz festival has been Norway’s largest for years, but this year ticket sale revenues are predicted at NOK 8.3 million, including sponsor tickets. Manager Anders Eriksson said it was pleasing Kongsberg was likely to do well at its anniversary event, but he wasn’t nervous about the competition.
“No, I’m not afraid of that, it is good that we have many festivals which complement each other with different offerings which are held in different parts of the country,” he said. Oslo, Stavanger and Bergen also host jazz events.
The 50th Kongsberg festival kicked off on Wednesday with a 50-hour live jazz marathon, broadcast directly on NRK. Project manager Eirik Havnes said it was part of a plan to use innovative methods to really get the public into the music. “Traditionally a jam takes place so that musicians can develop creative ideas with each other,” he said. “We’re focusing it so that the musicians who are visiting and playing at the festival will also set up here.”
Other local and international acts including Sivert Høyem, Kent, the Joshua Redman Quartet, Christian Wallumrød and Chick Corea joined Stevie Wonder on the bill.