I’ve had the privilege of getting to take part in 3 editions of Fête de la Musique in 3 different cities, namely- Pretoria, Johannesburg (South Africa), and Berlin. All 3 of these experiences were completely unique celebrations of music within a city.
In 2015, Pretoria’s edition blocked off a few streets in a suburb close to the inner city, called Sunnyside, with various stages set up at the Alliance Française, as well as an old house used to host a few markets and other events for the community. There were food stalls and people walking all through the streets- a block party of sorts. The line-up was incredibly diverse, including music from Gypsy jazz bands, Alternative Indie, Folk, Rock as well as a set by France-based band Vaudou Game, who blew my mind.
I got to play at the Johannesburg leg in 2017, which was just as wonderful, but a completely different feel. Various spaces hosted stages – including 2 stages at a massive shopping centre in Newtown – a bustling neighbourhood close to the city centre in Johannesburg. There was a focus on the diversity of South African music at this event, with various artists including Zoe Modiga, Josh Kempen, Bye Beneco, as well as roaming street musicians on percussion and brass.
There was a focus on the diversity of South African music
Last year, in Berlin, I got to play with my band, playing the launch party of the Fête at Theater an der Parkaue, in Friedrichshain. There were various stages in the theatre, including a busking space outside, which is a reflection of the street music culture that’s made Berlin pretty famous.
We spontaneously collaborated with a clarinet player from another act that we’d bumped into numerous times in Berlin. This was probably the biggest extent of the Fête that I have experienced, as there were loads of venues throughout the city hosting musicians for the day. We finished off our day playing a bar in Moabit that evening called Kallasch & Moabit, where they’d built an outside stage for the day’s events. Loads of people were sitting outside enjoying the setting sun, with people passing by, stopping to appreciate the music, and eventually grabbing a beer and joining the crowd outside for a dance.
Music lovers gather for a day where music – in all genres – is accessible for anyone and everyone.
With my very different experiences of Fête de la Musique in 3 different cities, the overarching feeling is definitely one of a celebration of music, as well as diversity. Music lovers gather for a day where music – in all genres – is accessible for anyone and everyone. Personally, I heard so many other acts across genres that I never would have gravitated towards in my own capacity, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’ll be in Berlin again this year to experience the Fête.
I’m looking forward to seeing what this year’s program has in store, as well as seeing how I can participate – whether as a collaboration with some other artists, or getting to walk the different districts in Berlin and be surprised by the sounds pouring out of the different spaces that support this initiative.
Whatever it looks like, I’ll be there.
Check out Adelle Nqeto, the South African singer songwriter that Berlin has fallen in love with: