A grand piano makes a dramatic journey suspended beneath a helicopter as it is flown into position at the Gandegghutte, which perches on a precipitous ridge beneath Switzerland’s great Matterhorn, at an astonishing altitude of 3,030 meters (almost 10,000ft) above sea level.
In what is believed to be a world record, The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars, house band of the world famous jazz club, are to perform at the Matterhorn Glacier paradise ski area in Zermatt in a series of Extreme Jazz concerts as part of the Zermatt Unplugged Festival that runs from 8th – 12th April.
Staging an outdoor concert at this altitude, where temperatures can reach minus 20C at night, and the air begins to thin, poses a considerable production challenge. While the five-piece jazz band will make the 1500m (almost 5000 ft) ascent from Zermatt village to the Gandegghutte restaurant by cable car and skidoo - complete with drum kit, double bass and saxophone - the grand piano hitches a ride beneath a gleaming Air Zermatt helicopter.
With many of the artists at Zermatt Unplugged performing in venues in the village and at lower mountain locations, the Extreme Jazz concerts mark a first for the festival in taking live concerts to such an altitude; in fact the performances will break the altitude record for Europe’s highest stage.
Now in its 7th year, Zermatt Unplugged is Europe’s biggest acoustic festival, and is becoming as popular as the world-famous resort itself. For music lovers, skiers and mountain enthusiasts, the festival offers an exciting mix of top talent as well as superb end-of-season skiing and adventure in unsurpassed Alpine terrain.
Joining the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars at this year’s festival is a strong British line-up, with Katie Melua, Jamie Cullum, James Arthur, Mick Hucknall (the voice of Simply Red),Tom Odell, Jamie Scott and Andy Burrows topping the bill.
The Extreme Jazz concerts are the brainchild of international theatre producer and Zermatt devotee James Cundall, CEO of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions. “I have been coming to Zermatt for 25 years and think it is the most inspiring and magical resort. The Gandegghutte, which dates from 1885, is one of my favourite ‘stops’ in the mountains – it has a unique position right above the glacier and has all the magic of a real Swiss mountain cabin. I took my friend Simon Cooke of Ronnie Scott’s there and we dreamt up what for us epitomised the perfect concert. I’m delighted that Zermatt Unplugged were so receptive to our somewhat challenging idea!”
The 7th edition of Zermatt Unplugged takes place from the 8th -12th April 2014.
More information about the festival can be found on: www.zermatt-unplugged.ch