If you were in New York City on June 21 of last year, you already know about Fête de la Musique.
This year, Pasadena in Southern California and Sacramento, San Francisco and one district on Oakland in Northern California will join along with Kalamazoo (one of my favorite city names) and Albion, Michigan to celebrate music, joining the French movement called Fête de la Musique (Festival of Music) and sometimes, using the homophone Faites de la Musique (Make Music).
There are, of course, millions of music festivals, but in this one amateur musicians are particularly encouraged to get out and make music and the concerts are free.
Veronique Maheas, vice president of Alliance Française in Pasadena, commented, “It is a music festival, but it’s different from your typical music festival in the sense that everybody is invited to come and perform. So anyone can come and whistle at the corner of the street or play their guitar or sing a tune.”
Elisabeth Fourney, executive director of France Los Angeles Exchange Foundation (FLAX), was in Paris last year and admitted in a recent phone interview that she had wondered why the Fête hadn’t made it to the U.S., “because I think it's a brilliant idea, a great concept that offers music of all kinds for people of all ages. (In France) People move around stop and listen to music.”
Fourney helped bring a little bit of French culture to Pasadena by arranging for two French bands to come and perform: Adele Jacques with Antipop (Emerging Artists Stage) and the Plastiscines (ANTICS Stage). The acts have the approval of her young sons, but the festival has music for all tastes and ages.
Although it just recently came to the United States, it began in the 1980s in Paris.
According to press release on the San Francisco Web site Christian DuPavillon, who is an architect and a civil servant in the Ministry of Culture, was working as an adviser to the Culture Minister in 1982.
One morning in January 1982, the Director of Music at the Ministry of Culture, Maurice Fleuret, sent me a memo saying that the French owned more than four million musical instruments. Three quarters of these instruments lay deteriorating in cupboards, attics, and cellars before departing this life in dustbins and on rubbish tips. I couldn't help but lament their fate."
This memo became the catalyst for a worldwide movement that encourages people to enjoy "the sheer pleasure of playing."