BEIRUT: Created in France in 1982 by former Culture Minister Jack Lang, the “Fete de la Musique” is celebrated each year on the evening of June 21, the shortest of the year.
It aims to promote musical talent and give people a chance to attend outdoor concerts, free of charge. For the 12th consecutive year now, Lebanon’s French Institute has scheduled a full program for Beirut’s version of “Fete de la Musique.”
With all that’s been happening in the country and the region lately, the celebration comes at the right time, offering a night’s diversion from politics and its attendant tensions.
This year will see a more compact version of the Fetes. While previous years have found stages in districts like Hamra and Gemmayzeh, in 2012 all venues are concentrated in Solidere – the Roman Baths, the Beirut Souks, Samir Kassir Square, Zaitunay Bay and Martyrs’ Square. These will host folk acts, rock, pop, electro, classical to Latino ensembles. Several churches too will act as temporary music halls.
At the Roman Baths, Lebanese artist Marc Nader will perform tunes from his soon-to-be-released album “Back to the Roots,” accompanied by vocalist Lynn el-Saghir. The duet’s simple acoustic music promises to enchant listeners.
Also performing at the Roman Baths is the Mexican-born, Lebanese-rooted vocalist Poly, who’s been on the circuit since 2010 and is in the midst of her summer tour.
She’ll be followed by Lebanon’s own The Passive Standouts. Composed of guitarist and vocalist Ian Massry, drummer Rami Charara and bassist Karl Soued, The Passive Standouts will represent Lebanon at the Global Battle of the Bands, scheduled for September 2012.
The Roman Baths will also welcome such international ensembles as the French electro-rock band Les Fils du Calvaire and Lebanese-Brazilian samba drummers Segundo Bloco.
A few blocks north on stage at the Beirut Souks, Lebanese soprano Tania Kassis will perform a set accompanied by her chorus. Known for her lyrical interfaith “Ave Maria,” Kassis’ concert at last year’s Beirut Music and Art Festival demonstrated her versatility in several musical repertoires.
Also from Lebanon, Beirut Blues Brothers will return to “Fete de la Musique” for the second time. Composed of drummer Ramsey Khattar, vocalist Jeffrey Ayache and bassist-vocalist Buddy Ayache, BBB will demonstrate that blues music too can make you happy.
If you want to party all night long, the multinational band Soul Sister promises to perform a round of funky tunes from the ’70s. In a similar vein, the Lebanese group Butterfly will perform the best-loved tunes of Pink Floyd and Deep Purple. If you prefer The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, then The Fan Dolls will be on hand to cater to your musical predilections.
What’s Your Story? That’s the name of a band composed of talented young musicians and singers that will perform in Samir Kassir Garden for the Fetes. Their musical tale began when they decided to launch a campaign against discrimination and that music was the best means to do so.
Samir Kassir Garden will host performances by several other young ensembles, including Bandage Group, Srai, Jammit The Band and Wata El Lounge. Fete de la Musique will mark the first public performance of IQEWS.
Named after the Armenian god of light and sun, Lebanese-Armenian band Mihr promise to enchant audiences with their fusion of blues and rock sensibility with traditional Armenian folk music.
The program for Martyrs’ Square promises to be diverse. From the Arabic pop stylings of tenor Gabriel Abdel-Nour, to the alternative rock of Lazzy Lung, audiences will be able to pick and choose.
Lebanese symphonic rock band EpiSode will also invade Martyrs’ Square. Comprised of violinist Avo Demirdjian, percussionist John Laham and bassist Karnig Baghdassarian, EpiSode were a blast at last year’s Beirut Rock Festival, opening up for the renowned rock’n’roll and metal singer Serj Tankian. They’re sure to surprise many spectators on June 21.
Other ensembles on hand to introduce audiences to their musical world include The Coolcumbers, Aziza, Epic and The Rakans. DJ Andre Rizo, meanwhile, promises to electrify his listeners.
Diversity will be the motto of Zaitunay Bay. For Iberian music lovers, guitarist Adel Harb promises to enchant all with his tribute to Spanish flamenco legend Paco De Lucia. For their part, Lebanon’s Rojo Del Libano will try to move the mood across the pond to Latin American mood.
For those more lured to pop, rock or fusion music, Band Audi, Aziza, Maher Salame, Bruno Tabbal, Blues Band LB and Beirut Vocal Point promise to fulfill all your musical cravings.
Slam and rap fanatics may well find happiness at Ajami Square in the Beirut Souks. Palestinian-Lebanese slam singer Tina Fish, Lebanese rap band Ashekman and Banely and Zeinedin promise to occupy the BCD with their sound.
Performances of classical music will be staged in St. Louis Des Capucins Church, featuring Rita Zoghbi and the choir of the College Protestant. Band and Theatre De La Pastorale will belt out a few hymns.
The Evangelical Church will host a piano performance by Zeina Alam, accompanied by violinist Gilbert Kandalaft. Sopranos Youmna Jreissati and Karma Tohme, and tenor Marc Reaidy will sing along to masterpieces by Brahms, Handel, Verdi and Bizet.
“Fete de La Musique” will be celebrated on June 21 at select Beirut locations. For more information, please call 01-420-200.