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La Fête de la Musique

by Joseph E. Romero

PARIS, 19 June 1998 - Every year at the summer solstice, amateur and professional musicians of every imaginable persuasion take to the streets, parks and public squares to celebrate France's Fête de la Musique. Hospitals, museums, bars, restaurants also serve as venues for jazz, global techno, salsa, classical and world music.

Launched in 1982 by then socialist Minister of Culture Jack Lang, the French fête is by far, the most sympbolic manifestation of the inextricable link between the arts and politics in France. Furthermore, the French population expects the state to provide and fund culture as they expect the state to provide and fund adequate health care. Since its inception in the French Republic, National Music Day has spread to and is celebrated in ninety-five countries.

With France hosting the 1998 World Cup, this year's cru includes an open-air concert on the Place de la République in Paris by reggae star Jimmy Cliff in honor of the Jamaica vs Argentina match scheduled for 21 June.

Other notable events include the excellent Cuban Dance Band Charinga Habanera at the Bataclan in Paris the night before and a twelve-hour techno marathon featuring Busta Flex, Cut Killer, DJ Warrio, Superdiscount among others on the esplanade of the Château de Vincennes.

Classical and jazz offerings were better in past years. Still, a multitude of concerts in both genres can be heard throughout the country with the exception of the city of Toulouse where the bars and restaurants have had to observe an 11 pm curfew from Thursday, 18 June, through Sunday evening. And this because the British are present for England's match against Roumania Monday evening.

Violent confrontations between British football fans and Tunisians in Marseilles last weekend have inspired these drastic measures, including postponement of the annual event to mid-July when things will have quieted down.

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