Celebrating music in French neighborhoods since 1982
In 1982, the French Ministry for Culture launched the « Fête de la Musique ». The idea was first brought up by Joel Cohen, an American musician who proposed an all-night music celebration at the moment of the summer solstice on his radio show. In many regions of France but also Northern Europe, summer was already celebrated as a reminder of the pagan fest with bonfires and fireworks.
The “Fête de la Musique” is now above all a free popular event, open to any participant (amateur or professional) who wants to perform and share its talents. For thirty years now, more than 18 000 concerts are organized every year in France, with 5 million musicians performing and around 10 million people celebrating.
The “Fête de la Musique” crossed France borders and is now held in dozen of countries in Europe and over the world. In the USA, Massachusetts was the first state to hold the Fete de la Musique, which was called “Make Music Day”. The name and idea were taken up the following years by New York City, Pasadena, California, Chicago, etc…
What is the Fête de la Musique?
It’s the day – it’s now a firm fixture – when musicians, whether they are amateurs or professionals, can play wherever they want at any time, day or night. They might choose a station concourse, a school playground, the inside of a cathedral or church, a café, the steps of a town hall, historic building or prefecture, a passage-way, a prison and so on.
Amateurs, often nervous when they have to sing or play an instrument in public, have the chance to play freely without feeling self-conscious. The festival isn’t a financial burden on the Ministry of Culture or regional and municipal authorities as it was created to be a free and accessible festival . All it requires is a poster, a list of venues across France, information available by phone or on the Internet, the suspension of royalties for the day, and an increase in the number of commuter trains, and buses and underground services running until dawn.
The Fête de la Musique is also an unique opportunity for people to celebrate together, uniting neighborhoods and strengthening communities in French streets in the smallest cities as well as the biggest towns. Since 1982, the spirit remained unchanged : take the streets and share your passions with relatives, neighbors, visitors…
Fete de la Musique in San Francisco.
For the first time, the Fete de la Musique will take place in San Francisco at the Alliance Française.
Musicians of all ages and levels –amateur, part-time-professionals, and marquee artists– are invited to participate, and all genres –pop, rock, classical, jazz, folk, blues, R&B, world music, and everything in between– are welcome. This is a chance to share your talent and passion with fellow San Franciscans. All are also welcome to attend and celebrate music during this week end of pride and culture in San Francisco. Music playing will be happening all day at AFSF on Saturday June 23rd.