Fête de la Musique
On June 21st every year, the day of the summer solstice, something is awakened in the hearts of the French and the streets literally pulse with the beats of music.
Starting in 1982, this its 30th year, is an exciting one, with the festival now exported all over the world but it not being more inviting than in this the City of Lights!
It is of course Fête de la Musique 2011 and my cousins whisked me away from school for a night to wander the streets of St Germaine to live through this incredible lively street music festival.
It is one of the most popular events in the year and everyone comes out of their apartments to explore the streets.
You can feel it as you turn every corner, as hundreds of musicians’ line the streets giving free concerts.
Their performances ranging from World Music to Jazz, Rock to Hip-Hop, Classical to Electronica, lift up the energy of the streets, bars and cafes.
The resounding feeling is one of joy and excitement as people stroll the streets looking for their style of music before getting right into the performances with little regard for their normal reserved behaviour.
Musicians are a mix of professionals and amateurs, everyone dressed to impress and ready with their instruments.
After looking for our first free concert we landed upon a group of ‘a capella’ opera singers – interesting… but we quickly moved on before finding something to better satisfy our needs…
An awesome big band with brass and wind instruments playing both classic songs and new songs too – they were awesome, but the star was their tiny female drummer who had enough rhythm and personality to lead Napoleon’s army!
We crossed the Seine back towards the Marais…
And came upon an artists community at 59 Rue de Rivoli where a massive concert was being held on their balcony. Somehow we were drawn in by their strings and charisma along with at least a hundred others standing either by the side of the road or right in the middle of one of the busiest streets in Paris.
Their folk world music had great tones and a beat, carried by strong performances on the violin, bass and guitar. Everyone peered up reverently to the skilled musicians – we even bought their CD, although on return days later it had lost its luster.
We were there for what seemed like an hour as the sun finally set and people danced across the crossing at every green light!
Walking thorugh some of my favourite back streets of the Marais everywhere we found small groups playing to their fans.
The small squares had larger concerts with rock bands playing loud for all the surrounding cafes and larger groups of people dancing.
The clubs had spilled out onto the streets playing loud pop and dance music to packed streets.
DJ’s had set up mini-dance parties in front of historical buildings and people were letting down their hair.
Around midnight a snack of fresh cakes was in order and everyone was happy for a taste!
Things didn’t slow down and the music continued late into the night.
Walking home I made a short detour to see what was happening around Place de Vosges. Around every corner and under the vaulted ceilings were a latin drumming group belting out salsa, a one woman band on her keyboard, an alternative rock group, and a a group of 5 accordionists playing classic french songs whilst the crowd sung all the lyrics.
The sound resonated through all the streets and as I made my way home I knew I would sleep well before school tomorrow.
Fête de la Musique was a success as always with people all around France partying long into the night.