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  • Writer's pictureKate Woodman

Le solstice d’été et Fête de la Musique (Summer solstice & World Music Day)

Updated: Feb 16, 2020


Jeudi dernier était le solstice d’été et le jour le plus long de l’année. C’était aussi la Fête de la Musique. Qu’est-ce que c’est la Fête de la Musique ? La Fête de la Musique a été créée en 1982 par le ministère de la Culture de France Jack Lang. Depuis lors, 120 payes célèbrent la Fête de la Musique.

C’est un jour et une nuit quand toute la France célèbre toute la musique….par professionnels et amateurs, les enfants et les adultes, et tous les genres musicaux, ainsi qu’au rock, au jazz, à la chanson et aux musiques classiques et traditionnelles. La musique est partout…..dans l’églises, les musées, les maries, l’écoles, les restaurants et bars, et notamment dans les rues, les places….en fait, à tous les coins des rue. Et pour la première fois cette année, à l'Elysée Palace ou Président Macron a organisé une soirée dansante. Tous est gratuit…encore un exemple du soutien de l’Etat des arts et de la culture (comme Nuit Blanche, la Nuit des Musées, Journées de la Patrimoine).

Last Thursday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It was also World Music Day. If you are not familiar with World Music Day, it’s an event that was created in 1982 by then French Minister of Culture Jack Lang. Since then, 120 countries have joined France in celebrating music on the day and night of the summer solstice.

It’s a day and night when all of France celebrates all kinds of music…. by professionals as well as amateurs, children and adults….rock, jazz, classical and traditional, instrumental and vocal, all genres are welcome. The music is everywhere, in the churches, museums, town halls, schools, restaurants and bars and, especially, in the street….indeed, music is on every street corner! And for the first time, even in the Elysee Palace, home of President Macron, where he organized a dance party for the first 1500 people to sign up on the Palace website. Everything is free….just another example of how the French government supports the arts and culture.

La Fête de la Musique est pour tout le monde - it's for everyone!

Donc parce que c’était ma première Fête de la Musique, j’ai fait des recherches et j’ai fait un plan pour la nuit. Une amie qui a vécu à Paris longtemps m’a dit que je dois flâner…c’est le meilleur de vivre la fête de la musique. Quand même, j’ai fait un plan.

So as this was my first World Music Day, I did some research and came up with a plan. I wanted to stay in my neighborhood because a friend who has lived in Paris forever had told me the best thing was just to wander….as there would be things happening everywhere. Nonetheless, I made a plan.

First stop was the “marie” or city hall of the second arrondissement, where a children’s choir from a local music conservatory was performing. Charming, delightful, but strictly an event for the families of the children performing.

Second stop Saint Eustache, the enormous cathedral by les Halles that I know well because of its weekly organ concerts. Saint Eustache has a very active music program and they actually planned a 2-day, 36 hour event entitled “Festival 36H.” I caught the end of a group called MIDGET, and stayed for a bit of the final performance, French singer-songwriter Mathieu Boogaerts. I didn’t particularly like him, so left after 15 minutes.

Mathieu Boogaerts at Saint Eustache

There was a huge crowd outside the church being entertained by hip hop singers. Again not my thing, so I moved on.

Hip Hop at les Halles and Saint Eustache

Stopped by Musée des Arts et Métiers for some swing dancing, but the crowd was small and not very lively….moved on. Of course, Thursday was also the day of a World Cup match between France and Peru, so the streets were filled not only with music lovers, but football fans as well.

France vs. Peru

Celebrating France's victory over Peru

There was literally something happening on every street corner. Mostly huge speakers blaring out thumping bass and lots of DJ’s spinning tunes.

DJ by Etienne Marcel Metro....Jo Allen is to the left (outside of shot)

But the best was the last and unexpected. An amateur string quintet was playing outside a small epicerie on a street not far from my apartment. Neighbors had brought out chairs, everyone was drinking wine or beer and many had purchased nibbles from the epicerie, families were there with children running and dancing to the music. The audience was enthralled and most appreciative. For me it was the perfect end to my first Fête de la Musique in Paris!

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