Organized for the first time under its current name in 1982, the Fête de la Musique returns every June 21, in France and abroad. In the United States, the summer solstice has been sung for fifteen years: the first edition of the Fête de la Musique took place in 2007 in New York, under the name of Make Music Day. This year, several thousand events will take place throughout the territory. In total, more than a hundred cities will take part in the festivities, including neophytes Atlanta (in Georgia), Fargo-Moorhead (in North Dakota), or even Columbia (in Missouri). In New York, French and American officials will meet in Battery Park for a performance of the animal carnival by Camille Saint-Saëns, composed in 1886, the year the Statue of Liberty was inaugurated.
Aaron Friedman, creator of Make Music Day New York and now director of the Make Music Alliance, was inspired by the Fête de la Musique as it exists in France. ” After graduating from university, I spent a year teaching English at a high school in Bordeaux. “, he says. “ I also played in a band, which I left mid-June when I returned to the United States. Everyone was talking about the Fête de la Musique “, he recalls, “ but I could not experience it “.
A few years later, while composing a piece for his niece, a budding pianist, he begins to dream of a great musical event. With experience as a team leader on an election campaign, he decided to put his professional skills – ” manage volunteers, encourage citizens to come and vote – for the benefit of this new project. He therefore went to Paris in the summer of 2006, and, on June 21, was ” impressed to see that we play music everywhere “. He spent the next year working on a similar concept, and Make Music New York was born in 2007, with 560 concerts. from Carnegie Hall to city parks “, he recalls proudly. He marvels at the gathering a very wide range of amateurs and professionals, from different cultures, in different parts of the city “.
” People quickly discovered what we were doing in New York and contacted us to create Make Music Miami, Make Music Seattle… “continues Aaron Friedman, flattered. ” When the NAMM foundation (the foundation of the National Association of Music Merchants, editor’s note) told me that they wanted to join the project so that Make Music Day would become a national celebration, like in France, I launched the Make Music Alliance. Operational since 2015, the association now has 110 chapters in the United States. ” The concept works in big cities like New York, but also in small towns or mid-sized college towns notes Aaron Friedman. ” In Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin, the organizer knows everyone. At its scale, it doesn’t even need the software that we make available to other alliance members. »
In summer as in winter
Aaron Friedman has “ heard many stories about the origin of the Fête de la Musique, and read interviews with Jack Lang and Maurice Fleuret. Everyone seems to want to take credit for it “, he notes. ” Maybe it’s actually an obvious idea, which keeps being rediscovered over time. Charlie Morrow, for example, organized a summer solstice celebration in the United States in the 1970s. The American musician Joel Cohen, whom some consider to be the father of the Fête de la Musique, is said to have proposed biannual music saturnalia in 1976.
“ The winter edition of Make Music New York began in 2011, in particular to allow volunteers, partners and musicians to keep a team spirit while waiting for the summer “, explains Aaron Friedman. ” Kind of like Phil Kline’s BoomBox show in December, in which music lovers gather with their boombox in Washington Square Park in New York, and play different soundtracks that harmonize. We have organised guitar gigs in elevators, performances where percussionists play on park benches and lampposts, and collaborated with The Gaits app that turned walkers’ footsteps into music on New York’s High Line “, he lists. ” We wanted to bring people together despite the cold. Make Music Winter is not a large-scale event, but there are many who want to experience winter cultural events that are not standard Nutcracker performances and fall outside of the classic holiday repertoire. See you on June 21, then December 21.