One of the most iconic events on the French cultural calendar returns to Melbourne in a more intimate setting than ever before.
Michel Richard, director of the Alliance Française lets us in on what to expect from the comeback event and reveals what adjustments have
been made to adapt the event to the Melbourne winter.
Flashback. Now more than 25 years ago, the then French Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, marked this unifying date for the first time. “It was about making music accessible to all, mixing professionals and amateurs in places as varied as the streets, parks and metro stations”, explains Michel Richard who emphasises the “free” nature of these neighbourhood performances. You could walk around and listen to all different genres of music, and all “on a beautiful sunny day in June”… says Michel Richard, who does however, recollect some years finishing in torrential rain. The event was met with much success, so much so that its popularity made things a little complicated. Local governments got involved, and security issues were raised. “Nonetheless, La Fête de la Musique has [since] expanded, with hundreds of events now happening all over the world. An initiative even recently started in Australia called ‘Make Music Day’ – which is a play on words that [French speakers] will easily understand.”
La Fête returns to Melbourne
The network of Alliance Françaises have for a long time been keen on echoing this important date, and its Melbourne branch makes no exception. “Having arrived quite recently, I cannot tell you a lot about our past events” explains Michel Richard, “but I know that we’ve tried different approaches, both within our walls and also in concert spaces in St Kilda where we have less control over the number of visitors.” After taking a year off, la Fête is making a comeback. “At our Eildon Mansion, we are lucky to have so much space: in the gallery spaces, on our terrace, in the basement. We even have a loggia!” So this is where the event will be taking place on the 21st of June, between 5pm and 10pm.
French vibes, jam session and mulled wine
Ten groups will be performing in total, offering an eclectic variety of musical genres. Gypsy jazz, French chanson, West African songs, hip-hop… “The idea is for it to be impossible for you to get bored for the whole 5 hours that the event will be running” explains Michel Richard. “If you are a musician, you can even participate in our jam session that will bring the evening to a close”. An invitation to all amateur musicians!
What’s more, there’s no chance you’ll go hungry. On the premises, two associations will be helping out: French Assist will be serving French
onion soup (from a recipe prepared by French chef Philippe Mouchel) and Melbourne Accueil will be serving mulled wine. “I’ll add as well
that the Crêpes
vans will both be on site, and that we will also have a bar available.” A
cosy environment for an event taking place on the winter solstice. “We often think about changing the date, but December is busy with
Christmas, and in January we already put on a concert in partnership with So Frenchy So Chic” explains
Michel Richard. “Winter is far from being unbearable in Melbourne, and in any case don’t we say that music warms the heart?”
Article by Valentine Sabouraud
Translated by Ilaria O’Brien
The New Impromptu Quartet
Huw Gregory & Marlene Samson Duo
& jam session
Entry to the event is free, but please confirm your attendance by registering on our website here.