What started as a small observation by the then Director of Music and Dance in France, Maurice Fleuret, has now become a global rejoice of music. Some 30 years back when the first Fête de la Musique was organized in Paris no one could’ve predicted that it would evolve into this juggernaut of an event, that would touch the farthest of countries, and encourage all musicians to do what they do best.
Its magnanimity may have risen but the ethos remains the same. It still encourages amateur and professional musicians to share the same stage and be free for the audience. This is an ethic that Alliance Française in Kathmandu has followed for many years. They have done splendidly in bringing this event to Nepal and helping musicians grow. Just look at how they played a major role in nurturing Kutumba years back. How they introduced the band competition with winners getting a chance to record their songs in a state-of-the-art recording facility. Clearly, they have gone the extra mile to bring the best to this festival of music.
Past performers still speak proudly of their experience, and how they had a chance to perform their own songs and introduce them to the public. Yunas Maharjan of Barely Gods, who played at the AFK Fête de la Musique in 2010, says, “It was a platform where we got to present our songs. There were rock acts, metal artists and blues players all on the same stage. It was a great mix of talent that came from very different genres. A great experience for all of us.” Similarly Prasanna Bajracharya, drummer for Barely Gods adds, “It was an experience that galvanized us. All of us are working in different lines of work but share this passion for music. It was a stepping stone for us and now all of us look to stay involved in it for as long as we can.” The platform provided by the World Music Day has and still does give bands that extra impetus to pursue their dream and work towards it with its Midas spark.
And it was at its sparkling best, this year as well. Concerts were organized across Kathmandu as well as in Pokhara and Dharan. Alliance Française itself had budding bands from schools performing. Pubs and venues around the valley were decked with the banners of bands ready to perform and there was a certain fervor in the air. Thamel, in particular was abuzz. As soon as you went a little towards its belly, a huge make-shift orchestra was playing. These students, visiting from France and laced with tubas, saxophones, trumpets, snares and cymbals and clarinets, were delighting the crowd. Two main stages were set at Mandala Street. Stage 1 featured upcoming rock bands whereas Stage 2 boasted of stalwarts like Shyam Nepali and Hari Maharjan who invited to audience to come on stage and jam with them. It was a unique experience to say the least, and many tourists and native players embraced this opportunity with arms wide open.
Then the rain came down hard. But it did not dampen the mood. Rather the people still kept skipping, bobbing their heads to the music and just invigorated the artists to give that much more. The young orchestra from France enthralled once again this time on the stage in Mandala Street, Thamel. Bands like Etre, Fire Tongue, Poison Myst and Mukut wrapped up the proceedings by 8 pm; stringent laws prohibit open air concerts these days, so it was on to the pubs. Some 20 bands were playing in 12 pubs around the area, and people had a plethora of talent to choose from. Suresh Maharjan at Purple Haze Bar spoke, rather screamed (because of the rambunctious music emanating from the stage),”You feel like you are a part of something big, just look at the crowd!” Indeed, the crowd was as much as the bar could accommodate as The Newaz and Tubleweed had the crowd moving and screaming.
A day of celebration; check. A day of music; check. The World Music Day is rapidly becoming a musical holiday of sorts and this year’s did nothing but reinforce that it will be looked forward to when 21 June swings by again. For the pleasure of watching your favorite local band to visiting musicians to seeing upcoming bands, it has become a day to remember and a circle on every performing musician’s calendar.
A day of fun; check. !