French Institute leads the way on World Music Day

It’s World Music Day today: The annual June 21 celebration that began haphazardly on Parisian streets 20 years ago, eventually grew into a highlight on France’s cultural calendar as «Fete de la Musique,» and has since proliferated, particularly around Europe and other parts of the world, as a day of musical abundance for the people, beyond concert halls, and onto the streets. Last year, over 22,000 events were staged around Europe, while celebrations in other parts of the world were estimated at 10,000. To mark the day in Athens this year, various stages have been set up around the city for shows by numerous – mostly upcoming – local acts. As the French cultural ambassador in Greece, and in keeping with the country’s instigative role behind the concept, the French Institute in Athens at 31 Sina Street in Kolonaki will again be open to the public. An open jam session for interested musicians begins proceedings at 7.30 p.m., while a multiethnic Montpellier-based French act, Fethi Tabet, will follow. Up against the hard-to-miss scale of events in Paris and other major European capitals, which have integrated their efforts and formed a coordinating committee, ADCEP, to help maintain standards and facilitate artistic exchange between cities, the local version ranks as modest but efforts have been made. In its bid to put Athens in the bigger picture, MESO, the local representative of ADCEP, made an ill-fated ambitious attempt in 2000 by booking several popular international acts, including Deep Forest and Aziza Mustafa Zadeh, along with domestic talent. The event, however, was canceled after the Orthodox Church of Greece held a coinciding rally at Syntagma Square, where a main stage for Fete de la Musique was set up, to protest against the government’s decision to scrap religion from state identity cards. Following the debacle, the Athens Municipality, operating independently, put on a lukewarm event last year. ADCEP and MESO re-emerged for Fete de la Musique’s local celebration this year and, along with state-run television and radio ERT, the Athens Municipality and the French Institute, have combined their efforts with plans to grow. Greece is not an official ADCEP member. «I think we’ve done quite well considering the limited budget and time we had,» commented Georges Perot, communications manager at Kosmos 93.6FM, ERT’s world music-oriented radio station. Besides the French Institute event, others are also on offer: At the Kallimarmaro Stadium with a youth-oriented bill that begins at 5 p.m. and is expected to run until 2 a.m., music-lovers can see promising local acts such as Happy Dog, an innovative funk-rock band, and electronica outfit Sigmatropic. Coinciding at nearby Zappeion, the focus will be on Greek music with performers such as Vassilis Lekkas, Achilleas Persidis, popular Greek-Latin band Apurimac, and UNESCO’s Greek Choir. The show in Syntagma Square, which begins at 8 p.m., will feature the Athens Municipality Big Band joined by renowned percussionist Mark Smith, also head music professor at Chicago State University, to be followed by the municipality’s Musical Workshop. In Klafthmonos Square on Stadiou Street, the music begins at 7 p.m. with the Greek Music Veterans Society and various vocalists. Even earlier, this morning at 11.30 a.m., a children’s program titled «Karameloparea» will be staged along Voukourestiou Street. Classical will be the flavor by the Acropolis, on Areopagitou Street, with the ERA Symphony Orchestra and Andreas Pilarinos at the podium performing Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in C minor, beginning at 6.30 p.m.

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