With lockdown prohibiting traditional concerts, this year’s Lebanon edition of Fete de la Musique will be broadcast directly from the best seats in the house: the balcony.
Ordinarily the French-modeled festival is held June 21, and draws droves of music lovers to outdoor concerts around the world. The Beirut iteration’s 20th edition aims to make the most out of the situation and bring a little joy to those stuck at home this summer. This year organizers ask both amateur and professional musicians from around the country to take to their balconies and rooftops to perform.
“The lockdown has allowed us to rediscover our houses, our apartments and especially this typically Mediterranean and Lebanese architecture, with flat roofs, balconies, terraces,” Institut Francais du Liban director Veronique Aulagnon told The Daily Star. “We got rid of the noise and pollution. We reappropriated these places and we gathered there. We had meals. We played sports. Others painted or cultivated plants.
“When the fete was created in France in 1982, the concept was to mix professional concerts and spontaneous initiatives of amateurs in the street. This spontaneity never developed in the Fete de la Musique of Lebanon, because here … public space barely exist. They are privatized or semi-privatized and not easily accessible,” she added. “These roofs, terraces and balconies have become the new public spaces, the new places for sharing and gathering, especially in this period of confinement still governed by curfew and with closed artistic venues.”
Anyone wishing to take part simply has to post a video of their performance on social media, using the hashtags #FDLMLiban and #3albalcon, to link them to the fete’s own social network, where people can watch performances not happening on their own street.
Several cultural institutions — such as Station Beirut and Marc Hatem’s singing school Music Factory — are already planning to organize festivities on their roofs, terraces and balconies. Aulagnon says the fete will also have a small professional program, featuring live-streamed concerts by popular artists from the underground music scene.
“The Fete de la Musique is also an opportunity for us, as a French Institute, to support the Lebanese music scene, especially in this troubled period when artists can no longer go on stage, and receive little or no funding to carry out their projects,” she said. “In association with four cultural partners — Beirut and Beyond International Music Festival, Station Beirut, Anthony Semaan and producer Michele Paulikevitch — we have selected four artists and groups with a project to develop, to whom we grant a subsidy.
“They are Rekloose Blues Band, Karim Khneisser, Kinematik and Pol. At the same time, we proposed to them to perform in their own spaces and to share the videos of these concerts,” Aulagnon added. “Other artists will join them to share as much of their music as possible, such as Bedouin Burger, Tanjaret Daghet, Miguele Issa and Amy Smack Daddy.”