Every year, the French welcome summer with music. On June 21, the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, amateur and professional musicians offer free performances in public places. This music day, known as la Fête de la Musique, allows the public to discover new styles of music, popularize obscure genres and even help young people from all social backgrounds enjoy a free concert by one of their favourite international band. I remember attending a free performance by Lenny Kravitz Place de la Republique back in 2002… Above all la Fête de la Musique is an opportunity for people to communicate and share a special moment through music. In Washington DC, the French community also celebrates music, though not necessarily on the 21st.
The program in DC hasn’t really changed in the past few years, with the usual suspects, L’alliance Francaise and La Maison Française organizing the two biggest events much like
they have every year for the past few years… L’alliance Francaise kicks off the celebration
on Friday, June 17th with 6 hours of musical programming, some of them family friendly.
The next day, the French Embassy opens up its garden for a fun soiree filled with music,
drinks and food. Last year I wrote at length about the merguez. They’ll still be there and
they will still be tasty. The real fun stuff, I’m afraid, will be in New York, which is gearing
up for its 5th Fête de la Musique with a big free concert in Central Park. It’s a lot harder for me to keep up with who’s hot and who’s not on the French music scene since I live
in the US. I have access to French iTunes, which is helpful, and I listen to French radio
stations online too, but I also rely on on some French twitterers and bloggers based in
France to keep me in the know. I discovered Ben l’Onlce Soul thanks to the blog Lost In
Cheeseland and I was thrilled to hear he would be performing in the big apple for la
Fête de la Musique. Also performing is Catherine Ringer of Rita Mitsouko fame, which I
think is I kinda cool. But since I can’t make it to New York that weekend, I guess you
can expect to see me at the French Embassy. And I’m looking forward to it. The fact
that we, as a country, appreciate the musical arts in all their incarnations, enough to
dedicate a full day to celebrating them, is one of the many, many reasons I am so proud
to be French.
The program for La Fete de la Musique 2011 at l’Alliance Francaise
** La Fête de la Musique @ SummerStage is located at Rumsey Playfield, in New York’s Central Park (enter park at East 72nd street) on Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 7 pm (free). Ben L’Oncle Soul and Catherine Ringer will take the stage and there will also be a showing of “Gainsbourg and his Girls,” a documentary on (yes, him again) Serge Gainsbourg, seen through the eyes of his many muses.**
** La Fête de la Musique at L’alliance Francaise is June 17th, 2011. 5:30-6:30PM is the children’s program, followed by an open stage and tribute to local musicians until 10PM (free) and then a DJ will close the night until 11:30PM. L’alliance Francaise is located at 2142 Wyoming Avenue NW. **
** La Maison Françaisecelebrates La Fête de la Musique on June 18th, 4PM-12AM. Admission $8, free for children under 10. La Maison Françaiseis located at the French Embassy, 4101 Reservoir Rd. NW**
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